I began to think about making her something with my hands. I used to sew—perhaps I could make a quilt. I became quite excited about this, which later took me to the fabric shop. Colours, textures, diagrams and patterns darkened my passion creating an almost impossible maze. Yet, I persevered and began to choose shades that enhanced each other. The clerk suggested a reversible quilt that I could do on the sewing machine. This sounded perfect as I didn’t have the room to set up quilting frames, nor did I have the time or knowledge to quilt. I went home that day with a large yellow bag filled with countless fabrics, eager to cut and piece together the blocks to shape a chocolate-shaded queen size quilt, “with just the right colour of orange, Gran.”
As I cut the quilt bat, placed the coloured triangles in place and continued to build the blocks with the assorted colours, I began to think how much this exercise was like writing. Every block represented a well-chosen word. The strip of cloth framing the quilt block reminded me of phrases and statements that connect thoughts, taking the reader further into the plot. After laying the blocks out on a large surface, it was easy to see when an overused colour was in the wrong place distorting the imagery. How often does that happen in writing where a favourite word or concept becomes over-kill? The colour and strength of thread carefully woven through the large piece of handiwork is not unlike the importance of vision and passion that holds a long effort of writing together.
I have put the squares together showing the quilt in all its glory. And I marvel how often important dreams start with little things. And reversible? Yes, it ends up that in the end I have two quilts, two different colour concepts, back to back. I agree that this was very ambitious for me at a time when I was busy with family illness, church leadership and writing. Yet, I inserted stitches into the cloth with prayer, placing the colours side-by-side asking for peace and love within this marriage. Working with so many colours, I soon realized how forgiving the pattern was to my mistakes - again a perfect image of a good marriage.
The droning sound of my 40-year-old Elna sewing machine motor reminded me that my granddaughter would have noisy and overbearing life-problems not unlike those I’ve had through fifty years of marriage. The push and pull of moving a 1400 piece quilt through the arm of the sewing machine illustrated how awkward some situations would be, creating their own tension.
And I smile as I think of this reversible quilt. Two sided! One for her and one for him. But they have to be together to enjoy this benefit. Most of all, I thought of how this quilt would be the mantle, the covering of God’s love – perhaps a double blessing.
Author of WinterGrief: a personal response to grief and Aggie's Storms, the story of a girl who grew up to become the first woman elected to Canadian Parliament.