It was so tattered, I honestly didn’t think that it could be saved.
It was my grandmother’s quilt, and the years of use had taken its toll. My mother brought it to my wife and asked her if she could repair it. My bride is a seamstress, and a fine one at that, but I could tell by the look on her face that she wasn’t so sure it could be saved. But, she didn’t hesitate to say that she’d try.
My mother’s mom was the strongest person I’ve ever known. She had six children in a house that had no electricity or running water. She did not consider herself a seamstress, but she made the quilt in the 1940s out of necessity. The Arkansas winters were cold and the wood stove could only do so much. Her kids needed a quilt, so she made them one.
My mother got the quilt when my grandmother passed away. For obvious reasons, it means the world to her.
My grandmother excelled at raising her children, and caring for the kids of others. She babysat half of the kids in Ashdown, Arkansas.
She’s been gone for almost a decade, but ask any 40-something resident there if they know who Ms. Pickett was, and odds are, they will.
I thought about how many youngsters, myself included, that quilt had covered during naps and illness, and how many had just snuggled with it for a sense of security. Like Linus Van Pelt in the comic strip, Peanuts, when you’re young, sometimes you just need a comforting cover.
My grandmother’s quilt had brought that to many.
And now, here it was in tatters. Waiting for someone to give it the level of attention that it had given to so many before.
As the oldest grandchild, I had slept under and on it more times than I could count. My cousins and the kids my grandmother kept had enjoyed the quilt in the same way that I had.
Is there anything better than someone who loves you making a pallet for you in the floor so that you can fall asleep at their feet?
My grandmother loved The Price Is Right. I can still see a sea of kids dozing on the floor, while she watched Bob Barker give a happy contestant a new car, kitchen appliances, or a cruise.
She loved children and, as I mentioned, raised six of her own. She also took in foster children. All of us used that quilt.
Looking back, I have no idea how she did all of it. But, she did.
And the quilt she left behind, which my mom inherited, was in need of help.
My wife is a member of an organization made up of women of faith called, Quilts for Kids. It was organized in response to the September 11 attacks. Since its formation, they have made hundreds of quilts for several different groups of children.
Based at the Methodist Church in Whitehouse, Texas, they come together weekly to work on quilt projects for children of all walks of life. They receive no outside support. The work they do is their choice and they provide what they need.
They make quilts because they are needed, and because they can. Just as my grandmother did for her children.
But, this quilt, my grandmother’s quilt, was a side project for my wife. It was one that she took on, in addition to any other ones she had committed to do.
If you’ve never watched someone hand quilt, you should. It is painstaking work that requires more patience, skill, math, and creativity than I will ever possess.
As I write this, my mother has no idea what my wife has done with my grandmother’s quilt. But, by the time you read this, she will have the quilt back.
The quilt could not be restored, so my wife made it a quilt-within-a-quilt. She preserved the original by making a new quilt around it.
She also affixed a label that says, “Between these layers is a quilt made in the 1940s by Leona Pickett. Preservation was done in September 2018 by Terry Moore, the wife of Leona’s grandson, John Moore.”
I’ve included before and after photos of the quilt, which is now about 70 years old.
I’ve watched my wife spend hours bringing this family treasure back from the brink. I didn’t think that it was salvageable. Fortunately, I was wrong.
In a world filled with what seems to be more takers than givers, I am so proud of my wife for what she’s done, not only for preserving the quilt for my mom, but I’m also grateful for her friends in the “Quilts for Kids” group.
We could all take a cue from those who not only believe in, but also embrace the old mantra, “It is better to give than to receive.”
And I think that about covers it.
©2018 John Moore
John’s book, Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now, is available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Write-Passage-Southerners-View-Then/dp/1548144983.
Email John at John@TheCountryWriter.com.