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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Aunt Mary's Quilt

This entry comes to us from Rosemary @, a Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support center. This entry make you wish you had an aunt Mary. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Rosemary! LY!

When I first read about your quilting project on Emily’s blog (Stepping Stones), I knew I had to write about my Aunt Mary’s quilt. Well, technically, it’s MY quilt, but my dear Aunt Mary made it for me when I was 12, and I still think of it as “Aunt Mary’s Quilt,” and so do my kids.

Before I tell you about the quilt, I really should tell you about my Aunt Mary. She was my Great Aunt, my Dad’s mother’s only sister. She was the sweetest, gentlest lady, and she was unable to have children. I don’t know why, but she did tell me once that there was a minor surgery that could have been done, but my uncle wouldn’t allow it. He told her that if God intended her to have children, He would have made her so she could have them. I often wonder what that must have been like for her, because she LOVED children. And they loved her. I loved her. Tremendously. I was the first grandchild for both of my parent’s families, and I have always been told that Aunt Mary spoiled me rotten. My mom used to tell me that when I was little, if I wanted something and she told me no, I would say, “Well, I’ll ask Aunt Mary. She’ll get it for me!” And Aunt Mary often did.

As I grew up, Aunt Mary was one of my very favorite people. Yes, she spoiled me, but not only in material ways. She spoiled me with love. I don’t remember most of the things she bought me, but I will never forget her love. I will never forget how every letter and card she wrote to me began with the greeting, “Dear one,…” After I had my first daughter, she wrote me the sweetest letter and said that she hoped I enjoyed my daughter as much as she had always enjoyed her sweet Mama. Every child should be spoiled the way that she “spoiled” me, and I loved spending time with her.

As I became an adult, married, moved away, and had children, Aunt Mary and I remained close. Ironically enough, she was usually the first person I called when I was having Mommy meltdown moments. There are some things I will forever remember about her…she loved Christmas, she prayed the rosary every day, she loved to get cards, she made the most delicious homemade noodles I’ve ever eaten, she always had M & Ms in a candy jar on her coffee table, she made beautiful quilts, she taught me to crochet…so many more memories I have…I couldn’t even begin to write them all.

In October 2001, Aunt Mary turned 90. Just to give you an idea of how many people loved this woman…there were nearly 100 people at her birthday party. She had so many God children, I don’t even know the exact number. Sadly, three months after her 90th birthday, Aunt Mary suddenly died. She went into the hospital for something minor and died 2 days later.

So now, I’ll tell you about “Aunt Mary’s Quilt.” When I was a kid, we moved around. A lot. The hardest move for me by far was the one my family made the summer between 6th and 7th grade. We moved into a brand new house, and my room was part of the finished basement. Aunt Mary made me a quilt to use for a bed spread. It was squares of pastel gingham…yellow, pink, orange, green, aqua, light blue…gingham of different sizes and colors they don’t make anymore. At each corner of each square of gingham was a fluffy little pom pom made of pale yellow yarn. (keep in mind, this was the 1970’s!) I loved that quilt and still do.

In 1980, when I was a senior in high school, my parents moved again, and I stayed behind, living with a friend to finish high school. The day after graduation, I moved back in with my parents. What a comfort it was to see my quilt on the bed in my new room. I lived with my parents for 2 more years while I attended a local college. When I moved away to finish my degree at Eastern Illinois University, the quilt stayed behind. But once I was married and had a home of my own, the quilt was mine again.

Over the years, this quilt has definitely become a comfort item for me as well as my kids. It mostly stays on the shelf in my bedroom closet, but if I am sick and lying around on the couch (which doesn’t happen often!), the quilt comes out. That quilt is the first thing my kids ask for when they are sick or just want some comfort. Actually, they don’t even ask for it now that they are older, they just go into my closet and get it. If I see one of them on the couch with Aunt Mary’s quilt, the first thing I ask is “what’s wrong?” If more than one child is sick at the same time, they fight over who gets to use it! If I am sick when any of them are, they know it’s mine. During the winter months when the kids have colds, etc, Aunt Mary’s quilt is out of the closet and on my couch often.

The quilt is so soft and comfortable, but it is not in the best shape anymore. Some of the seams have come undone, and every time I was it, I’m afraid it will fall apart. I almost feel as if I should hide it. Yet I can’t. I love that my kids call it “Aunt Mary’s Quilt,” and that they want to pull it out and snuggle under it when they need comfort. A few years ago, I gave it to my sister’s mother in law to repair, but there are now more seams coming undone.

I have a couple of other quilts that Aunt Mary made. They are all special to me, and I can close my eyes and see her stitching each piece and imagine the love that she put into making them. I love them all because they came from her hands and heart, but none of them have quite the importance to me that “Aunt Mary’s Quilt” has.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share something so special to me. I love writing about things that are near and dear to my heart, and over the years, I have written other things about my Aunt Mary. But, I never even thought about writing about this quilt. I also realized that I didn’t have any photographs of this treasured part of my childhood, and now I do. So thank you again for inspiring me. I look forward to your book. I am not a quilter, but I come from a family of quilters, and I love quilts and hearing the stories behind them.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Surrounded in Love

This entry comes from Andrea @ Blogging Mama. I love the generous nature of this entry and the idea of being surrounded in love. Much Mahalo, Andrea. LY!

I actually had a diaper bag in this fabric from a store. And one day I discovered you could buy the fabric so I did. When I was adopting my daughter (aka The Chick) I wanted to make her something but I'm not good at clothes or bibs as it turned out. But I kick butt at curtains and blankets! So I made her a blanket out of the fabric and 19 months later it's her favorite blanket. She must have this blanket first on top of her when she goes to bed then her other blankets. It's kind of special because first is the blanket I made her, then the blanket her Aunt Valerie (my sis) made for her and then the blanket my MIL made for her. She's basically all wrapped up in love. Ahh (I know that may have been over the top!)

I bought this fabric to make a quilt square for Chick's 100 Good Wishes Quilt which is a Chinese tradition where you ask friends and family to send a quilt square and a note offering good wishes for a new baby. Well, technically (if you want to get political) she's Taiwanese. But her heritage is Han Chinese. We got so many quilt squares from people all over, people who we mostly only knew online through adoption groups, I never needed to have this filler fabric I bought. I haven't made the quilt yet but one day I will and I hope it will be a treasure for her as she grows older. Again, she was surrounded with love.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Endless Love of a Mother

This entry comes to us from Emily (Swirl's sister) @ Stepping Stones. I love this entry because it emphasizes the magic that love and support provide through the pain. And I love love love the soothing fabric. Mahalo Emily. LY!

When my son Gabriel was stillborn, we were blindsided. I had no idea that in this age of modern medicine babies still died. It was something that happened back in the pioneer days, or maybe third world countries. Not now, not to me.


Coming home from the hospital I refused to wear my maternity clothes- what a cruel joke. And yet, none of my regular clothes fit me. My mom bought me a pair of pajama pants- a field of deep blue with stars. So cozy and comfortable. I wore those pants probably for the first month straight. I holed up in my room, watching MASH reruns and sleeping. And my family and neighbors let me do what I needed to do- shut down for a little bit. They took my kids back and forth to school. They dropped off meals to feed my kids. I remember so much love expressed from those days. Sadness, too, but lots of love.

Even still I wear those pants, even now. And I have worn them through two subsequent pregnancies and the sleep deprived days of nursing new babies. They are faded and worn, but so comfortable.

I went to the fabric store last night intending to get a piece of cloth with little bugs on it- ladybugs, maybe. (Gabriel's nickname was 'goldbug', from when we were reading a Richard Scarry book to our then 4 and 5 year old when we told them we were going to have a baby.) Or maybe a piece with butterflies- butterflies are symbolic to so many. But I was drawn to these blues. The deeper blue in particular. They look so similar to the pajama pants. I remember the love my mom expressed when she got them for me and gave me permission to mourn. The love of those days as I grieved my baby. And the sleepless nghts and days as I have nursed my new babies.

The starry design symbolic of endless love of a mother for her children, through the eternities.This is for anyone, anywhere, remembering their children.

peace- emily

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Gift of Faith

Here's a story that will send chicken skin tingles across your heart and soul. It comes from Jessica @ Variety is the Spice of Life. LY, Jessica!

I first heard about my magic quilt when I was sitting at a baby shower. It was for an acquaintance from church. She was a very nice girl, very excited to be adopting her first baby. I had never talked to her about her fertility struggles, but I knew from a mutual friend that she had quite a rough time. As she opened one of her gifts it was a quilt, handmade by Dawn, who happened to be sitting next to me. It was a bright cheerful gorgeous quilt, hand quilted flannel. Dawn leaned over and whispered in my ear, "The one I'm making for you is much better than that one." I was shocked. She was making me a quilt? I wasn't pregnant and I didn't have a baby. We had turned in our adoption papers months ago, but had heard nothing. She knew that. Why was she making me a quilt? She could see the surprise on my face and just smiled, "You'll be a mom soon, and you'll need a special baby quilt." I don't remember my response, it was probably a lame, wow--thanks. I was just too taken back and surprised. She was already making me a quilt when I didn't see motherhood anywhere near in my future.

Several months later we were selected by a birth mother. We were so excited! One Sunday at church Dawn said to me, "See I told you, you need a quilt! I had a feeling it would be a boy--it's a boy quilt. I have it already for your shower." The baby boy was born early and there never was a shower. His premature birth set into action a coarse of events that complicated our adopting him. The adoption was on and off, on again and off again for 8 long hard months while he was in and out of the adoption agency's foster care. Ultimately, we did not adopt him, his birth mother was cornered into parenting him by the birth father's family. We were heart broken and worn from the whole experience.

As we were learning the ending to this sad story, we were also in the middle of a cross country move. Dawn knew we were leaving. I had forgotten all about the quilt, and really I wanted no reminders of our emotional ride. She called and asked if she could come over and bring by her "gift." It was so generous and thoughtful, I couldn't say no. She walked in with a white shoe box with a red bow tied around it. She didn't say much, I think she knew how sad I was about the adoption falling through. She told me that she had made the quilt for me and for my baby that she knew I would soon hold. She wanted me to keep the quilt because she knew I would love it and use it when the time came. I didn't open the box at the time, it was too hard. But I thanked her and gave her a hug.

Many months later after we had moved into our new home in another state and had finished updating our adoption papers, I opened the box, hoping it would bring a little joy and anticipation with it. The quilt she had made was amazing. I loved it--the geometric design, the colors, it was hand quilted--she had done an amazing job. It truly was the cutest baby quilt I had ever seen. The design of the quilt (diamonds) even went with the baseball fabric. I felt terrible that I hadn't opened it in front of her and told her then how much I loved it. But even then the quilt stirred up all the deep painful emotions of the baby that was almost ours. I looked at the quilt and wondered, "What if we end up adopting a girl?"

More than a year after she gave me the quilt, I flew to Indiana to pick up our first baby--a boy. He has bright blue eyes just like the blue in the quilt she had made. He has all the energy and strength that the quilt has. I took the quilt with me and happily wrapped him up in it at the hotel our first night with him. It was a magical moment. All those hours she spent making the quilt where now finally filling their purpose.

I now have 3 boys, all adopted. All three have slept under that quilt, played on it, learned to roll over on it, and eventually crawled off of it. The quilt is a reminder to me of generous love, the kind our Savior taught us, the kind that can heal us. The quilt is a gift of faith. When our own light is fading, others can light the way for us, still believing when we are discouraged. I'm grateful for my quilt, it will always be a symbol to me of love and faith.

Below is the fabric I am contributing, which represents my own magic quilt.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Healing Quilt

The following entry is from Tonya @ You Asked For It. I love this entry! Thanks Tonya.

When I was a little girl, if any of us kids were frightened or ill there was a place of safety-- same as any other kids' place of safety probably--Mom and Dad's bed. Of course, my parents had a pretty good system, if we came in their room we'd get a quilt on the floor near their bed.
This Quilt:

You know, I'm not 100% sure that this is THE only quilt that I snuggled up in on those floor-sleeping nights, but this is the quilt I remember best. I remember being sick and wrapped up in this quilt on the couch; I remember drinking hot jell-o water for an upset stomach and accidentally spilling a little on the quilt; I remember one night huddled in the quilt holding a cold soda against my burning up foot when infection was winning the battle . . .

But most of all I remember fingering the many many fabrics of the double wedding ring design --crafted by my great grandmother when my own mother was married --and my mom telling me stories of where the fabrics came from. If I can recall I think there were pieces of many fabrics that had also been used for great aunt's dresses and great uncle's suits. It was a great distraction from worry and nausea because my mom loves to tell stories about her family, and they never stopped at the fabrics!

Speaking of fabrics . . . our quilt is still around, but not exactly in great shape. The photo shows that it's a little faded, but you can't really see that there's more stuffing poking out than being held in by the quilting so I'll be sending some alternate fabric, something given to me by my grandmother because I'm being groomed for the "She Who Dies With The Most Fabric Wins" club... it's a family tradition!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Patience and Prayer

This morning I woke up with this prayer in my head:

Oh my Heavenly Father, I come in humble prayer.
Not to beg for miracles, just strength to not despair.
If I fail to see your wisdom, give me faith to never doubt it.
Help me bear the cross you send, and not complain about it.

I memorized this when I was 12 or 13 years old from my favorite Helen Steiner Rice book and I used to repeat it over and over to myself during my childhood struggles.

It still pops into my head at odd times. Like when I'm unconscious. And often when I'm conscious too.

Lately I've been thinking of it as I look around and notice all the suffering and struggling going on around us.

Church was beautiful on Sunday. Even though I was starving to death I was deeply touched by all the testimonies (including my husband's (YAY!))

Our 2nd counselor, Bro K's, mother passed away a few weeks ago. She had cancer for 10years and he and his family have been taking care of her through all of her health struggles. Bro K bore his testimony and told us that one of the last things his mother said to him was "Thank you for being patient with me."

He said he looked right back at her and said, "Thank you for being patient with me." He spoke about his newborn daughter who cries every night and he spoke of how our children can often be a source of irritation and exhaustion, and how they require large amounts of patience.

I thought of how patience can be a form of healing.

I thought of Pat! She has been trying to care for her son who had hip surgery a year ago. It's been a long, arduous, complicated, expensive trial for both of them with no end in sight, which has required a lot of patient. Ah, the patience of Pat!

I thought of our Elder's Chorum president and his wife. A young, vivacious man with two toddlers--always the first person to help anyone in need. Two weeks ago he was stricken with a really rare virus that I can't spell and don't want to look up, which left him temporarily paralyzed. He's been in the hospital getting dialysis. He's been at home flat on his back, unable to control his body, his life, crazy afraid it won't go away, or worse yet, that he will stop breathing and die.

My husband and I walked over and spent some time with him on Sunday night. We were deeply moved by his emotional stories of loneliness and fear. I realize that his emotional suffering has been as great as his physical suffering. Which is often the case for all who suffer.

The Magic Quilt can help with the emotional suffering, if not the physical.

We've got to get this Magic Quilt done, peeps!

So I dug through all my wicker baskets and guess what I found? Tons of fabric. Magic fabric. I found all my old curtains that I made when was cute and crafty and my kids were little. My mom and I seriously made curtains for every room in the house. And I found all the left over fabric from the days when I used to make scrapbooks and cover them. And I found some pillow covers my sister made for me out of her huband's old shirts.

Just think of all the magic this fabric holds. My curtains are infused with compassion (They saw my whole mid-life crisis.) My scrapbooks hold my story. And those pillows offered rest to our weary heads for almost 10 years

So I spent the weekend washing them with LoW's magic laundry detergent recipe. Then I dried them with Downey. Then I ironed them with love sweet love.

And then I sprinked pixie dust on them and did a rain dance around them and fed them chocolate kisses so they'd be 100% enchanted.

I will now send them out into the world with a wink and a nod, (and my favorite Helen Steiner Rice prayer.)

Here's a sampling of the fabric:

And that's not even all of it, but I got bored with uploading photos!

May the force be with the Magic Quilt!

Nanoo Nanoo

And here's a preview of T (as in Tonya)'s upcoming post for TheMagic Quilt