Stitches of Love

by Diana Rankin

Kathryn's QuiltThe postmistress handed me a pair of scissors so I could cut away the tape around the box that held a gift from one of my clients, Kathryn. We were both awestruck, the postmistress and I, as I pulled out the colorful quilted throw and held it up.

I ran my hands over the stitches, a swirling pattern of flowers and leaves that looked like hearts. “This is so beautiful,” I whisper least my voice be too loud for the exquisite piece of art I beheld; a voice too loud that might shatter the love that was sewn into each stitch.

“It sure is,” the postmistress said. “Somebody must think a lot of you.”

I bundled up my gift and headed back to the car for the short drive home, all the while thinking about the gift and the giver. I had never met Kathryn, yet I knew her heart, knew her goodness and her sorrow. She is a client who lives in another state. We work together over the phone. She had shared with me her passion for quilting, but until this moment, I hadn’t gotten it, hadn’t really understood what quilting meant to her. Now I got it. How could I not sitting here holding a piece of cloth stitched together that is so much more than a quilted throw?

Over the years, many clients have gifted me with their loving work. My walls are filled with paintings and photographs; my jewelry box with earrings and necklaces; my refrigerator with delicious homemade jams and jellies. But there was something more in this gift. It didn’t take long to figure out what that something was.

I remember another quilt, one my mother made. Well, calling it a quilt is generous and probably an insult to a real quilter, none meant though. Mother wasn’t very domestic. She was a career woman in the days when woman couldn’t have it all. She had moments of being domestic. The quilt was one of those.

She began sewing the quilt when she was a girl. It was just a bunch of scraps of cloth stitched together. It didn’t even have a backing and one corner wasn’t finished, but Mother was in every stitch, and that meant something to me.

I didn’t always know my mother very well, having lived with my grandmother, her mother, as much as I lived with my own mother while growing up. I was nearly an adult, a college girl, when I found the quilt in Mother’s cedar chest.

“I started that when I was about your age,” Mother said. “Look, here’s a piece of a dress your grandmother made for me when I had a speech to give at school.” Mother was quiet for a moment, far away, the patches carrying her to a private place echoing images from a time gone by.  “Grandma even sewed a few of these pieces together,” Mother added. Her fingers trailed over the patches like memories traversing through her thoughts. “Here, look at this,” she said. “Do you remember the little play suits Grandma made you? Here are pieces of them.”

I looked at the red and white dotted Swiss patch and the one of a light dusty blue. Then I looked at Mother; she looked back.

“You were about four, maybe five,” she said.

“I remember.”

Something passed between us then, a shared heart filled with yesteryear’s memories, a family stitched together by blood ties.

I took that quilt back to college with me, and then on to California when I struck out on my own and moved west, more than 2,000 miles away. Eventually I finished the quilt, used scraps of my life to put an end to that missing corner, and I covered the back with a soft, light blue flannel.

It became my throw to curl up with on the sofa or an extra blanket on a chilly night. It was what I wrapped around me when I needed to feel loved, and it was my cat, Cashmere’s, favorite place to land. It was what I draped Cashmere in when she grew old and what both of us enclosed ourselves in when we moved back to Ohio and Cashmere needed to leave this plane. Mother helped me bury Cashmere, cocooned in the patchwork that stitched my life to my mother and to her mother, the women of my heritage.

I think of my mother and Grandma as I curl up in Kathryn’s quilted throw, and I think of Kathryn. “You have helped me,” she said when I called to thank her, and in those few words the stitches of my life came together. Words that came through me, words that I passed to another, gave the other comfort just as Mother’s patchwork quilt had once comforted me.

 

There’s a postscript to this story: A few minutes after I finished writing it, I took the dogs out before we went to bed. It was raining, so I stayed near the door rather than walk out into the yard with them.  While waiting on the dogs to finish their sniffing and everything else they needed to do, I felt something on the outside of the door watching me. It was a tiny tree frog, his coloring turning to almost the same as that of the rusty brown door. His wee eyes just kept looking at me. I thanked him for the songs he and his frog family provide to me all summer and suggested that he might want to find a warmer “tree.” He didn’t say a word; he didn’t move; he just kept looking at me.

Being the psychic I am, I know meetings like this are messages. I knew frogs were about water and heralds of abundance and fertility, but I felt there was another message here. I pulled out Ted Andrews’ Animal-Speak to find the answer, and there it was, the sentence I was looking for, “Usually frog people have strong ties to their mothers.”

Thank you little frog, thank you Mother…and thank you Kathryn.

© 2015 Diana Rankin

Be Sociable, Share!

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Previous post:

Next post: