Friday, November 29, 2013

Quilts of my Childhood

My Grandfathers both worked behind the scenes to support their families. That's how it was done 'back in the old days'.

My maternal Grandfather was a man of the Earth, who owned & operated a very large farm with what seemed to me were endless fields and endless cattle grazing them that were fed and milked and fed again. There were pigs, chickens and geese. There was rain, unrelenting heat, freezing snow, and dark nights. His life was driven by the responsibility that it took to raise a family and keep this life of his going.

When the snows or rains drove him inside, he read and was a follower of Rudolf Steiner, so his life was gentle inside and out. He was in his 90's when he passed and yet, every time I came to visit, he called to me with open arms and said, "Come sit here and tell me everything you have done since I last saw you." Somehow that magickal Hershey with Almonds candy bar appeared just for me. 

My paternal Grandfather was an entrepreneur and businessman who was incredibly respected in the community. For many nights, as he lay dying from throat cancer, I curled around his back in bed to keep him warm just like his arms had wrapped around me so many nights before my bedtime. Because my Daddy signed up for another couple of years of military service, this Grandfather was my first Father figure, and meant the world to me. His eyes saw inside my soul and still seem to see me to this day.

I thought about them both as I spent last night and this morning squaring up my fabric stash. Its one of those behind the scene activities most quilters do in some way. Some cut their leftovers after the project is done and BEFORE they put the material back into their storage places. I haven't practiced that part yet. Its always a mystery to me that my bins overflow while I keep taking from them until I realize that material takes up more room when it is tossed on top than it does when it fits in nicely folded.

People work behind the scenes to keep things flowing in families and in businesses, just like quilters have to do these mundane tasks that no one sees and that don't photograph with any particular interest. 

For the early quilters, the piles of scraps they gathered from other projects or from clothes their families wore out or outgrew, held precious memories for them. Each fabric cut and reused reminded them of who wore them as well as when they wore them.  

That happens for me with the material as I square it for the next projects. It happens for me when I look at old photos. 

I remember such brief moments as a child, and yet still remember the feeling of love, of belonging and of safety that these men pictured above provided me. I was lucky to have been dear to them, lucky to have noticed what work they did outside their homes, lucky to have seen them come home and be surrounded by their families, lucky to have them for so many decades.

These were the quilts of my childhood...these precious people who comforted me, who shielded me, who kept me warm with love. Come to think of it, I did that for them in their waning days of life. Maybe they were the fabric pieces and I am the quilt in the making that started in my childhood....still not completed.