By Deb Rosman, Author of, The Grieving Heart A collection of poetry and prose about loss, hope and living, featuring, Imperfect Stitches.
Block upon block she built her world, stitch by stitch, moment by moment, she quilted together a life well-loved and well lived.
I have, temporarily in my possession, what will be the final quilt that my mother built. She started to build it ten to fifteen years ago and it requires finishing today. I gazed lovingly upon the work that she had done when she was at the top of her game. She was so skilled that even the most difficult patterns went together like a breeze. I marveled at what I saw, the exact beauty and precision of an intricate star block pattern in browns, midnight blues and sea blue/greens.
Some of the sections are utterly flawless, but before she finished, age robbed her of good eyesight and sapped her endurance to stay bent over the machine. It caused aches and pains in her knees, hips and fingers rendering some of the assembled sections with various imperfections. Deep down she knew her season for quilting was fading, and so she marked the places that needed fixing with pins, some puckers here, and a few gaps there and then the quilt was shelved. After many years some of the fabrics started to unravel and come loose at the edges; this quilt requires a lot of extra care. Still I delighted to see the sections that are flawless, perfect in every way, living in harmony alongside the sections filled with the tiny imperfections.
I continue to assess what will need my attention. The pattern said to miter the corners and to do that requires a perfect square, however with some of the assembly issues I changed the pattern of the corners and got the quilt top finished. Mom always tied her quilts, but I knew that this quilt would have a tough time holding together if it was tied so it needed to be quilted tightly together. I convinced mom and my sister, Kathy, who made the blocks that have a black X from corner to corner, to let me take it home so that I can machine quilt it and this way it will last for many years.
Working on her quilt, I reflect upon my dear mother’s life how stitch by stitch, block upon block, it too is quilted together. Suddenly it strikes me like a lightning bolt from the heavens that what I hold in my hands is my mother’s life story threaded together.
Mom made many quilts in her day and she taught us the art and craft that is quilting. She made certain we understood quilting’s rich history, the purpose of a quilting bee and the significance of the community it represents. Quilts embody everything we hold most dear, warmth, love, safety and life. What I held in my hands was more than an heirloom textile in need of completion; I held my mother’s life displayed in all of its glory and misfortune; perfections next to imperfections. The imperfections matter not one bit for her work is filled with all of the beauty and wonderment that was my mother’s life.
It makes me ponder that when she began to build this quilt, was she at all aware of the legacy she was threading there? It is almost done now, the quilt begun by my mother then worked on by my sister, and we will finish together as a family; after all that is mother’s greatest legacy.
Block upon block and stitch by stitch our mother’s life well built; represented in her quilts.