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