This will be a different kind of a post. It reflects my own “terror” of being old and “being forgotten” maybe even more, the total loss of anything I did in my life as meaningful. I have tried to be kind, thrifty towards myself, generous to my family, and others, but nothing I have done would seem to have had much impact on the planet, on life, on the present, or on the hereafter, whatever the hereafter is.
I like to quilt. I quilt with scraps, tiny scraps (down to 1.5in square). Its like putting together something organized out of something lost in entropy, destined for land fill in some foreign country, saving grief from the world wide land fill.
I like putting the scraps of “nothing” together into something orderly. I don’t quilt all the time, incessantly, but about one or two quilts per year, using my old (now ailing) green metal singer sewing machine. Many quilts I made had clothes from my three children, boy scout color light brown blocks from their shirts, and pink glossy fabric from my daughter’s play dress up dresses. Fabrics from PolyFlinders left over boxes of cutter’s scraps… 7 dollars for several pounds of stacks of cute ginghams, flower prints, delicate little girl fabrics and sometimes yard goods, ribbons, thread etc. (They were on 8th street i believe, in cincinnati in the 1980s). I enjoy quilting.
I have a colleague from UC who left the university long before i retired, but he offered me a bag of fabric scraps, since he knows I quilt with scraps. These scraps were presumably from a son in law whose 93 yo mother had fallen and was going into health care. It was a heavy bag of scraps, I could see from the outside that some piece work was there.
I was not prepared for what was inside. Nine (9) finished quilt tops, varying sizes, all waiting to be quilted into bedspreads, or coverlets. I was full of grief: for that woman who’s last dozen years were spent hand quilting these precious gifts for her children, grandchildren and friends and they were never finished, never given as treasured gifts, and then “pitched” to an unknown friend of a friend, as if the thousands of hours of hand piecing these quilt tops was “nothing” “nada” “rien” “zilch” “zero” “trash”. It grieved me so much. They will go back to the giver. Hopefully with instructions on where to find someone who will add batting and a back, and finish what this woman (who is still alive), can give her children and friends.
There were three quilts i suspect were for three little boys, in particular, maybe one for her grandson, they looked pretty much alike. I hope when i return them, they are finished by a professional and given to individuals, just where they were intended, as finished works, they can ask her who was to get which.
I was totally grieved. For her yes: for myself yes, as I know beyond hope, that because I have not completed my own grandmothers, necktie quilt, whose silk is shreding from a 100 years of age, that the quilts i have made will be similarly “pitched” as will my grandmothers quilt. I dont find those thought entertiaining at all, i find them totally depressing. And in fact, there is nothing new in my thoughts….. dust to dust and there is nothing then to remember, to treasure, to feel proud of, to hand out as a legacy. That is just how this journey works. See pix below…. all 9 of that grandmother’s hand work, tossed, but maybe saved and given as gifts.
So this also begs the question, why were these quilt tops NOT finished. I suspect the reasons are just like my quilting. Not perfectly straight, there will be lumps in the quilting with puckers in the fabric, no straight corners, some colors showing through to the front. The backing and quilting the whole quilt is really a hard part. I know. I have one pieced currently waiting to be finished.
Kudos to this woman, whose fingers didn’t stop when she got old.