Years ago, I taught my mom to quilt. It was way back in 1989, I think, or thereabouts. Mom and Dad were visiting us in Detroit and Dad was putting a new roof on our garage. He was 73. My husband was “helping” Dad and it was seriously funny. Especially when Dad told him not to bring the whole can of nails up on the roof, my husband did it anyway, and then dumped the whole can of nails in the middle of the driveway. My husband picked them up, every last one of them. Dad did some supreme yelling that day ………..
Dad had been retired for 13 years at that point, after being a carpenter for 29 years in one job. He worked at our local university and when he found out he could stop working, he stopped on a dime. Of course, he still worked, but just only for himself.
Mom wasn’t nuts about retirement. She was only 47 when retirement began, being 13 years younger than Dad. Ooops same here, being 13 years younger than my husband ……….
Mom saw me sitting and stitching little Sunbonnet Sue all over quilt blocks. She said, “I think I could do that.” I said “Absolutely you could do that – you made all of my clothes – you can do this.”
So Mom took over with Sue. She loved it. She appliquéd on all the Sues, put the quilt down and hand-quilted it. She had to put up with Mr. Geometry (Dad)
interfering helping her on every quilt as she cut them out. He was SO precise and he drove her nuts. Anyway, she persisted in making quilts.
Along the way, in 1991, I sent one of my quilts to be considered for Great American Quilts 1992. I was accepted. I was ecstatic! Mom received a flyer in the mail advertising the book and my picture was on it. She was so excited she called me during the day, not at a reduced rate.
Oxmoor House wanted more quilts and more pictures. My husband was a photography nut (super nut bought every camera he could find) and we went to my friend’s quilt shop and took pictures. Mom had pieced and quilted a gorgeous nine-patch in lovely spring colors and a bow tie quilt in tutti-frutti colors. We took pictures of the quilt she’d given us as an anniversary present (the nine-patch) and her bow tie.
One day Mom got a letter in the mail. They wanted to use her quilts in a new book. They paid her $200 to publish each quilt. I thought Mom was going to have a heart attack. She was so excited, she was beside herself.
She told me that, since learning to quilt, she had a reason to get up in the morning. She had a project, a plan, something to do. She no longer had time to sit and worry about every little thing. She was a quilter and she was busy.
She took to her new hobby like a fish to water, in fact she stopped fishing in their lake so she could quilt more. Dad was not impressed and still made her go fishing a few days a week. But the quilts progressed. She made quilts for everyone, her sister, me, her grandchildren, my son, on and on. The woman was a quilting fiend.
She quilted as long as she could, before she had to start experimental chemo to see if she could live longer. She couldn’t. Quilting became dangerous because she couldn’t prick herself with a needle. She persisted.
Sadly she died at the young age of 66 in front of her picture window, looking out at the lake, seeing the geese on the water. She died with her quilt on her bed, a small bit of comfort as she made her next journey. I’ll bet she’s still quilting ………….