The Brown Bag Quilt

“With this quilt, may you find peace and comfort.  More importantly, know it was made with the love of our friendship.”photo

This was the label that was sew into the back of the “brown bag quilt” given to me by my friend, Wendy, yesterday.  How does one accept a give like that?  It was almost overwhelming.  So too have been the out-pouring of well wishes, prayers, and messages of gratitude and hope.  How does one say thank-you for delicious home cooked meals, for heart-felt notes, and for stories written about relationships I have been blessed to have with others?

“This is a brown bag quilt.”  Wendy explained.   “You put your left-over quilting pieces into a bag and must sew them as you pick the pieces out. You must not look at the pieces while they are being selected.  This was especially hard for me to do.” (Wendy is VERY particular about things and everything must match perfectly to form a perfect order).

“The wonderful thing about this quilt is it has pieces from from my Saturday quilting friends who met at Barrie Learning Centre, when I worked there, including Helene and Barb.” Wendy continued.   “Barb was our senior quilter of the group who we lost last September. It has pieces of wonderful ladies whom I have know for 15 years, who are loving and caring as you know quilters to be. They are thrilled the quilt has gone to you and I have told them of your blog. Be strong and know we are all behind you in this journey.”

The quilt is magnificent.  It is not simply a quilt – it is a quilt with a history and hence, a story.  The story only made sense once the pieces were all sewed together no matter how randomly they came to be placed together.  Some colours and patterns that, in any other situation, would stop a quilters’ heart dead in its tracks – work together.    A leaf pattern sits beside a polka dotted pink square that sits beside a floral square that sits beside an abstract blue-moon kind of pattern.  Each piece is united by a thread that has been stitched into a leafy – heart pattern and runs throughout the entire quilt.  Little hearts touch plaid that touch brush stokes and paint spatter.

The pieces themselves are only 6 inches by 4 inches, but united, the fabric is enough to cover my entire bed.

My mother used to tell me that I “collected” people.  I loved people who were different and who had unique ways.  Being in drama in high school helped me to find “interesting” people.  And they were all different.  My favorite were those with interested talents.  I collected writers, singers, and dancers.  I collected naturalists, athletes, and protesters.  I collected those who were in school, those who worked, and those who were retired.  I loved them all.

As I settled into the final end of my teaching career I indulged my diverse interests as I worked teaching adults at the Barrie Learning Centre.  Here – was the JACK POT of diversity.  I collected more.  I collected people who had been broken and were trying to fix their lives.  How terribly exciting it was to work in this environment.  I collected those trying to beat addictions, those trying to break free from abusive relationships, and those who were struggling to find stability with their mental health.  I loved the challenges that were brought to me in terms of learning disabilities.  Some students had attention deficit disorder (ADD), some had dyslexia, and some had expressive disorder.  I loved the challenges of ages.  Some were only 18, some were in their 30s, while others pushed my age.

All of these people, throughout my life, have been united by an invisible thread that has been stitched throughout their fabrics in the form of little hearts. Individually, they are only small squares.  Life seems to have plucked them back out of the brown bag for me – and I take them as they come to me.  Each person leaves an impression and I stitch the impressions together until I have a bigger picture – which is my quilt.

These people are my quilt.  These people are my history.  These people are my story.

I am comforted by this quilt in times when I seek solace and strength.  I wrap it around me for security.  I wrap it around me to ground me.  It reminds me of my roots.  It reminds me that I have a future.

My brown bag quilt is colourful.  The individual pieces are unique and wonderful all on their own.  But, when they are united by the thread of relationship and history, they are spectacular… and they form “my quilt”.  They give me peace and comfort. More importantly,  I know my quilt is made with the love of our friendships.

Thank-you, Wendy and the quilting ladies, for this inspiration.

About inmycorner

This blog began as an opportunity to tell my Dad's stories. I sat with him and the computer and together we told stories. It was a wonderful way to get to know Dad. He was 9. He and Mom had a wonderful life together and since she passed away a year and a half before him - Dad was ready to join her. I no longer tell his stories but have found stories of my own. The impetus to resume this blog was the discovery that I had stage 4 ovarian cancer. Since blogging had been so therapeutic for my dad and I to get through our grief, I felt maybe this would be a good outlet to process my situation. I also hoped it may serve as an outreach to anyone else who is facing this very ominous journey. So far, so good.
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17 Responses to The Brown Bag Quilt

  1. Gwen K says:

    My wish for you is to have many, many more years in which you can add many more people to your collection. P.S. Love being part of your “collection”.

  2. Your mom was brilliant. I love how the quilt kind of matches your collection of people. And that it was made with love. What better gift is there?

    • inmycorner says:

      She was very observant and sensitive. I never knew what she meant until I got older. She was very accepting of me and loved deeply herself. She was a great role model. That was a great gift too. Thanks, Colleen!

  3. Gallivanta says:

    What a lovely gift. I am glad I have found you again. Somehow I have missed out on all these new stories in your life.

  4. What a lovely and heartfelt post full of love and respect for the people around us. I have six children of which two of them have severe dyslexia. It has been a journey for us as parents to see the world in a little bit of a different manner with all of the special people bringing their own gifts and talents. Take care and thanks for leading me to your blog.

    • inmycorner says:

      Oh my goodness – 6 children is a handful indeed! I read a book once called the Gift of Dyslexia. It made me see things in a different light. Cool how a title can change all. It IS challenged to be positive when the temptation is to be more full of doubt and a drive to be “normal”. Nice that you could join me!

  5. fouresthsister says:

    finally catching up with your blogging and loving to be able to share in the journey…very moved by this gift of the quilt…wow…actually in tears….so thoughtful. My own experiences with my mom’s cancer journey included what we called ‘The gift of cancer’…where all those people whose lives were touched by my mom got the opportunity to pour a little love back to her. I hope that you too are blessed by receiving back some of the kindness that you have generously poured out over the years.

    • inmycorner says:

      So – I am trying to figure out who you are… is it my chemo-brain?

      Other than that – yeah – the quilt was extraordinary. I still can’t wrap my head around it.
      I can see how you could coin cancer as the gift – not that you would want to wish it on anybody – but you are right – there are lots of exchanges of love. Thank-you.

  6. Pingback: It’s Just a Cold | In The Corner

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