March 16, 2022

Memory Quilt


Here is why people treasure quilts.  This quilt holds so many loving memories, symbolizes such a great story, and inspired this beautiful essay.  (Notes and photos on the repair process follow the story.)

My paternal grandmother made this quilt in the mid-1990s.  It was born from love that went back one long lifetime, and love that she wanted to carry forward several more lifetimes.

Grandma was a proud, tough “Okie.”  Born in 1919, she came of age in the worst hard times:  on a homestead farm between Hough and Guymon, Oklahoma, during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.  She was able to do some college.  But she left early, to join the WAVES during WWII.  Then, she married and had two kids.  She was stubborn, but she had a sweet streak, too.  Acutely aware that she was my only living grandparent, she tried to be all of my grandparents, all of the time.  She lived an hour away, but she often came to important school assemblies and birthday celebrations.  We spent every holiday together.  And I spent lots of time with her, at her old farmhouse.  We gardened, read, exercised, played piano, sang, danced, listened to opera, cooked, quilted, and crossworded together.  As she approached 70, she set her heart on finishing her bachelor’s degree.  She went back to school at an HBCU, where she connected with people from very different backgrounds and took down challenging advanced algebra classes.  She did well until she slipped on ice, broke her hip, and was never quite the same afterward.