One of the reasons that my husband and I took two weeks off and traveled a few weeks ago, is because we wanted to see what warmer weather and sunshine would do for my health. We have been talking about selling our home in Montana and relocating elsewhere and our trip was a sort of exploratory mission. One thing we discussed is that now that the boys are grown and out on their own we really do not need a lot of space. I have a minimalist mentality, so if something does not serve a purpose or have great sentimental value, then we don’t own it. Consequently we could downsize significantly and still be comfortable. We have been discussing several options:
- Getting an RV and traveling full-time
- Purchasing a small 1-2 bedroom condominium
- A small 1- 2 bedroom bungalow on a quarter acre or more so I can still garden and maybe have chickens again.
Always though, we talk about less house space. Then a few days ago we were discussing our options once again when it suddenly occurred to me, that if we downsized on our space, then I would not have room for my quilting frame.
Although I have had great difficulty hand quilting over the last 8 months, the thought of giving it up all together was shocking to me. My quilts are, in a way, a reflection of who I am. They feed my creative spirit. They are part of the quiet time that my brain needs to heal. Most importantly though, they are part of my heritage.
My grandmother was, by far, the greatest female influence that I have had in my life. I was only able to spend about one week a year with her, but those times with her are some of the only memories I have of my childhood. You see I grew up in a house with an alcoholic father and a very over-worked and over-stressed mother. There were 6 of us living in a small house and there was always chaos. Add my father with his issues and it could get explosive at times.
My grandparents home was the exact opposite of my home. It was a farm house set in the country side of the small town of Nelson, PA. In this home, my grandmother cooked everything on & in her wood cookstove: Pancakes, bacon, sausage and eggs for breakfast and pot roasts, potatoes & lots of fresh veggies for lunch and supper. The house always smelled like fresh air and delicious foods. There were two cuckoo clocks that would break the silence every thirty minutes and soft feather beds to play on during the day and snuggle deep into at night. I would often go outside and wander the old farm, marveling at the songbirds and grasshoppers that I would encounter. I loved nothing more than picking the wildflowers I would find along the roads and bringing them back to my grandmother, who would eagerly get a container to put them in. I spent hours petting and feeding grass to the neighbors dairy cows. One of my favorite memories was looking up and seeing my grandmother sitting at her table on the screened-in porch, rocking back and forth in her chair, hand sewing quilt blocks. She was my peace.
I loved to sit on the porch with her while she sewed. We would talk about neighbors from “down the road”, the weather, and our relatives. We would talk about anything and everything and there was never any anger or yelling. She was a patient teacher for me and an excellent role model for a girl who felt lost in the world.
If I was lucky, there would be a quilt frame set up in the large upstairs bedroom when we could come for a visit. My grandmother, mother and sometimes my aunts would sit around the frame stitching and talking. When I was small I would sit under the frame and listen to their conversations; it was like heaven on earth to me. I will cherish these memories for as long as I live.
A few days ago, I had the privilege of having my own grandchild come for a visit. Recently he has been feeling stressed with a new baby in the house, a hormonal stepmother, friction with his stepbrother, and some issues at school. He needed a break from his life, so he asked his dad if he could come stay with us for a few days. While we were driving him to our home we were talking about all the things that a 6 year old boy likes to talk about. Suddenly he asked my husband why he married me. I was stunned. What kind of a question is that for a kid to ask? My husband told him why then Marcus said something that I will never forget. “When I get married, I’m going to marry someone like my Grandma, someone who like to sew.” It was then that I realized that I was inadvertently recreating the same environment for my grandchildren that I so dearly cherished from my own childhood. He wanted to come to our house because it is a slower pace filled with peace and intention. I had become my own grandmother.
I also realized that a smaller house would not do. I really do need space to set up my quilting frame; a place for my grandsons to play, read, nap or just be. I need a larger yard for the kids to explore, for their own peace of minds. I need a family style kitchen so we can all come together and gather around slow cooked foods. I need to be able to teach my grandchildren all that I can, so that they can grow and be the very best people that they can be.
It’s funny, I use to quilt because I enjoyed it and it made me feel closer to my loved ones who are no longer with me. It connected me to a past where I felt safe and secure and loved. Today however, hand quilting is not only about my past, it is also about my children’s and grandchildren’s futures. Just like we build quilts, one piece of fabric and one stitch at a time, we build our lives and future generations, one intention and one action at a time.
Happy quilting everyone~
If you would like to, please visit the other blogs that are participating in this hand quilt along: