Momma is a quilter. Quilting is not exactly a lost art but it is one that is rarer than it used to be. Quilting is one of those skills that was used for a very functional purpose at one time, but is now used to make beautiful pieces of art. For one thing, it takes a long time to make a quilt. Sure, you can make a machine-stitched quilt, and it will save time. But, the hand quilted quilt takes a very, very long time.
Momma made quilts for her Grandchildren, and has started making them for her own children as they reach the milestone birthday of 50. I got mine last year. She didn’t have it ready on my birthday, so she quilted a matching pillow for my birthday present.
Daddy called one day last May. He said, “Well, guess what happened at 5:07 PM today?” I knew they didn’t have another baby. I had no idea. “Momma finished making your quilt! Two and a half years in the making,” he said. Momma was laughing in the background. I had a king-sized bed when she started the quilt. When I moved and got a smaller bed, she had to re-vamp and change the dimensions of the quilt. I’m always the problem child. My sister, Susan, said that every time she would call Momma, she would ask what she was doing. “Quilting Sharon’s damn quilt,” she would say. She’s making a quilt for my sister now. Susan said I’m sure she’s saying the same thing to everybody but me about mine. Well…..maybe. My sister hand-delivered the quilt when she visited last June. She had some precious cargo in that car.
The quilt is made in a pansy pattern. It was made in honor of my Grandma Fair whom I dearly loved. Momma said Grandma had pansies growing in her Louisiana yard every year. In the “not too cold” Louisiana winters, pansies will last a really long time. She was always sad when they wilted and died. I imagine Momma is passing down one of her favorite memories of her childhood to me in her choice of quilt patterns.
The night after I received the quilt, I dreamed about Grandma. I dream about her often. I was trying to pull up some pansies that had these really long roots. Grandma was helping me, but we could never find the end of the roots. We just kept pulling them up and pulling them up, and we were amazed that they never ended. I don’t have to analyze too much to recognize that metaphor. I’m sure it was Grandma’s stamp of approval on my quilt.
Quilts, of course, are made from lots of scraps of fabric. Each quilt is unique, and the fabrics can be chosen to symbolize and memorialize all kinds of things. I love cats, and Momma chose 2 different fabrics with cat images. She chose another fabric with cherries in it which reminds me of when i lived in Southwest Michigan. Momma has used some of the same fabrics throughout her family quilts. My quilt has some of the same fabric that is in my sister’s quilt and in my niece’s quilt. As she makes each of us a unique piece of art, the artist is also stitching the threads of her family together in a family quilt that stretches across generations and throughout the different geographic regions where we live.
The really lovely thing about a quilt is that all of those small pieces of fabric are handstitched and quilted by hand. When we were little, we had quilts that were made by my Great Grandmother. Those quilts were used so much and for so long that the stitching began to come loose, and pieces of the quilt backing would come out. In some places, the fabric tore because it was worn so thin. But, we loved wrapping up in those quilts in the coldest of the “not too cold” Louisiana winters. I don’t imagine I’ll live long enough to see this quilt tatter and shred, but I aim to give it my best shot. I’ll pass it down to one of my nieces, and maybe their babies and grandbabies will love it to death. And, maybe….just maybe….., they’ll be reminded of the three generations of women who are represented in its folds.