Quilt With Us

For those of you who have corresponded with me, you know my story of how I came to be a quilter sort of by exposure rather than by training. I have written here in length about my mother and have found comfort and encouragement from all of you who have had similar experiences in losing your mothers. This site has been a marvelous and rewarding means of expression in many ways and has been an impetus to get me going when I might have been otherwise intimidated,
My Mom's mentor was Jinny Beyer. She attended many of the seminars at Hilton Head Island and was a devoted student for many years and became very accomplished. You can see one of her finished quilts "Moon Glow" on my photo page which I am privileged to have in my possession.
I want to stress here again that most of the quilts displayed are my mother's work, not mine and they are on my page as a tribute to her since I have written so much about her here.

Recently, as I was unboxing some books in storage I came across one of JB's earlier books and while flipping through it stopped short when I came to rest on something that spoke clearly to me personally. Jinny was writing about her own daughter but it succinctly gave me an answer to explain why it is that I am not as talented as my mother. I will quote her here:

"Whenever the two of us are in the company of other quilters, there is the common question put to her, 'Do you quilt?'....My answer and hers has always been that she likes quilts and appreciates what I do, but hasn't been interested in doing one herself. I've always known she could make a quilt if she wanted because she is very good with her hands."

That quote came from The Scrap Look by Jinny Beyer, copyright 1985.

She goes on to say: "I always felt that the pressure of having your work compared to something your mother does might be a very difficult thing to deal with so I encouraged her in any other areas in which she became interested, and knew when the time came that she decided to make a quilt, if ever, that she would be very capable of doing her own thing."
For some reason I find that comforting. Kind of like it lets me off the hook, y'know?

My parents and I lived great distances apart but we visited as often as we could. Raising 4 boys didn't leave a lot of free time but when we were together Mom and I shared our interests and I gleaned from her what I could. For all those years I gathered knowledge while we talked and shared quilting experiences. She was prolific while I merely dabbled. How I wish I had paid more attention! But I always thought we'd have more time later for proper instruction.

Truth is, I was a little intimidated to break out and quilt "for real". After losing both parents within a year of one another I learned the hard way that there is no time to spare. If not now, then when? So right or wrong, good or bad, I'm doing my own thing. I may not enter my quilts in shows, I may not even display them here on my own page but I will do whatever hits my hot button without worrying about whether it measures up.

And that is very liberating.

I am so very lucky to have had such a gifted and loving mother. I cherish the good times we shared and all that she taught me. I wouldn't trade a minute of the laughter and the long talks we had. I can only hope that in some small way I can honor her by carrying on her love of quilting if not in skill at least in tradition.

I feel lucky, too, to have all of you to "talk" to. : )

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Comment by Renee on April 25, 2009 at 9:02am
I have to tell you all of a remarkable letter I got in the mail just a few minutes ago from my Mom's younger sister Sue. My Aunt Sue is an accomplished quilter just like my Mom. She and my Uncle Les drove down from Michigan and visited us at New Years and Sue and I had a grand time going through Mom's sewing room. After a moment of swallowing hard and bracing herself she was able to step in and enjoy reminiscing with me in a way I was so longing to do. I had sent her one of Mom's UFO's and she asked if I still had the fabric so she could add to it. She promised to send me samples to match and I sent her home with one of Mom's sewing baskets filled with mementoes and enough supplies to start a new project on her trip.
It took me until a couple weeks ago to get around to locating some of the fabric for the UFO (I never did find all the matching fabric-it was like a needle in a haystack) and I sent along a quilted jacket Mom had made.
In the letter I got today Aunt Sue said my package could not have arrived at a better time. She was feeling down that day as the day it arrived was the one year anniversary of her mother's death. Yes, my grandmother outlived my Mom by almost 2 years as well as 5 of her 10 children. Aunt Sue said in the letter she felt as if Mom and I were saying to her everything was going to be all right because Mom was still with her.
How about that?
I have to confess it had completely slipped my mind, the date of my grandmother's passing. Of course I remembered it was April and it was coming up but so many other things have been going on I hadn't really been aware of the date. So it was a complete accident that what I sent to Sue arrived at such a time to bring the most comfort to her.
Or was it an accident?
You know, Mom and I had such a connection that when we played Scrabble we had to hum or look away when it was the other's turn because we would zone in exactly where whoever's turn it was would use the spot we were thinking of using for our next turn. Invariably when one of us would call, the other would say "I just had my hand on the phone to call you!" So it should be no surprise Mom had a hand in the precise timing of the sending of the package.
What so you think?

Patricia, you may not be "nanny" to your future grandchildren but you could be "Nana".

Gayle, I agree, you and your family are definitely a nice king size patchwork quilt.

Another word about MILs to Patricia and Edith: I never got to meet my current (and LAST!) husband's mother who from what I've heard was a feisty fun loving lady I would have gotten along with and was a woman after my own heart. My ex MIL was not a nice lady either, Patricia, and I know it's not kind to speak ill of the dead, but she was so mean to me I don't think I could find a good thing to say about her if I tried. I was married only briefly the first time (I've been married 3 times) when I was very young to my oldest son's father and besides getting a wonderful son out of the experience, I got a wonderful MIL too, who I am still in contact with and I send her a Mother's Day card every year. When we talk on the phone she ends the conversation with "Love you" and I respond with the same.
I consider myself very lucky.

Thank you all for sharing.
Comment by Patricia, VA on April 24, 2009 at 5:18pm
I just want to cry when I read all the blogs, I would say we had wonderful mothers, I miss her and sometimes I want to call her, but I do talk to her almost every day. When I talk about her my eyes still tear up. (like now) My Mom was also a great mother in law, my husband loved her more than he does his own mother (who is still living at 84 never was a nice women) My other brother in laws loved her also. They used to call her Nanny, she was always Nanny to the grandchildren. When I had grandchildren I could not be called Nanny, I would have probably cried every time that they called me Nanny (there was only one Nanny! Now that I went on, I really wanted to tell you that it does get easier to handle as time goes by, but you will never forget.
Comment by nora sayre on April 24, 2009 at 10:27am
Renee I lost my mother just before my 19th birthday. I am 42 now and still miss her and think I will till the day I die. I am a single mom and have 4 children. I see my mom in thier faces even though she never got to meet them, they know everything about her because I tell them the stories of my childhood. My mother never quilted because she was busy raising 8 children but I do remember watching her hand sew our clothes when we would get holes in them. I think that is why I love to hand sew today because it reminds me of my mother and her mending basket.
Comment by Gayle/La. on April 23, 2009 at 11:37pm
Renee, My Mom is gone also and I still and always will miss her. Something she used to tell us as kids was"Families are like patch work quilts,every square is different but when sewn together we create one beautiful whole". Whe was always coming up with these remarkable things to try to keep her brood together. I have 5 brothers and 5 sisters living , so I say we make up a nice king size quilt, wouldn't You??????????
Comment by Edith Lean/Ont. on April 23, 2009 at 8:21pm
Renee what a lovely tribute to your Mom. I am still dealing with all the hand crotchet tablecloths and things my MIL made, saving some for my daughter even though she says she isn't into lacy stuff and some for my granddaughter. I too miss my children being little. It just isn't the same now that they are grown. What a legacy you have.
Comment by Prairie Quilter Jan/NE on April 23, 2009 at 6:23pm
Nice tribute, Renee. Sometimes we come across those "gems" just when our heart needs them.
Comment by Mary Rogers/MN on April 23, 2009 at 6:12pm
Renee, even if you never make a single quilt, you have already honored your mother with your words. How fortunate for you to have had such a wonderful relationship with her. She has left a great legacy in you; maybe not the quilting skills she did or didn't pass on, but in something worth much more...the ability to love with all your heart. And that is something you can in turn pass on to your children. And one day when you are no longer with them, they too will honor you by having hearts capable of loving without measure! Mary
Comment by Renee on April 23, 2009 at 6:08pm
Hi Patricia, It's nice to see another Virginian. We moved to Florida 2 years ago from Richmond but I lived about 20 years in southwest VA where 3 of my 4 boys still live. I have 2 stepchildren in NoVA and DC. I'm familiar with the Eastern shore and it's a beautiful place to be.
I know what you mean about missing your Mom. I hated parting with anything she made but I was given the overwhelming task of dispersing the quilts that she spent years stockpiling. We talked about it in length so I knew what her wishes were but it didn't make the task any easier and her death came suddenly and unexpectedly.
Do you ever find yourself thinking for a split second "Oh I need to tell Mom that.." I have an aunt who lost her mother 20 years ago who says she still reaches for the phone to call her Mom in that moment. I wonder if that ever passes?
It's a hard thing to explain to a child, even a grown child who thinks they're indestructible (would we have it any other way?) Yet, I find myself missing the little child I once had though the grown man is still around. Does that make sense?
I think that's why we make patchwork. It's a legacy that will last long after we're gone that our loved ones can touch and remember us long after we're gone.
Loved your quilts. I have been wanting to do a Delectable Mountains.
Comment by Patricia, VA on April 23, 2009 at 5:47pm
That is so great to have many memories of your Mom. My Mom use to crochet, I only have one afghan that she made for my husband. She made some for my 3 girls, they still have theirs. Sorry to hear that you lost both your parents in one year. My Mom passed away in 1994 and I miss her every day, Dad passed in 1983. We take our parent for granted, I see that with my girls, I think that they think we will be around forever!

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