Both my grandmother and my mother were quilters. One of my most vivid memories is always seeing my grandmother’s quilting frame sitting in her den and watching her as she so painstakingly did each stitch by hand to weave these small pieces of clothing that were worn out and no could no longer be passed down to the next recipient into these amazing pieces of art. And it is now that I truly understand the love - not to mention the PATIENCE - it took from start to finish for these quilts - which, by the way, she always gave away.
My grandmother raised eleven children in a two-bedroom house WITH ONE BATHROOM! She didn’t have a sewing machine but she made clothes - again by hand - for these children and they were made to last through several children before they finally retired into quilts. I can only imagine the memories that must have gone through her head as she so carefully cut these tattered garments, shaping each piece to fit into a larger pattern. I still have two of the quilts that she gave to me - my favorite being the one that she gave me as I went off to college. That quilt has followed me through my entire life and now keeps my granddaughter snug as she sleeps. I just wonder how many memories went through my grandmother’s head as she stitched every single stitch with so much love. I wonder if she ever realized that all of those memories - now four generations later - would continue to bring warmth and comfort to others.
I have recently shared the epiphany that came into existence in my head and how I can now understand better how suddenly things make a lot more sense in my own life, with some of my clients as well as with some of my coworkers, family, and friends.
We all have all of these pieces in our lives. Some are broken, some are frayed, some are “colorful”, maybe MORE colorful - if you get my drift - than others, some are perfect, some not so perfect but they are all a part of what has brought us to where we are today. Now, some people by nature or from experience will tend to focus on the broken or frayed pieces and that becomes their way of living their life. Others will pick out only the perfect pieces and put it out of their heads that there were also some “not so perfect” pieces along the way and that’s how they live their life. Ah, but the WISE person will look at all of these pieces, arrange them into some sort of shape, trim away the frayed parts, trim the tattered parts, and then place all of these together into something beautiful that can then be very carefully “stitched” into something that will allow us to retain all of the memories - while at the same time, mix the perfect with the not so perfect and use these to then go on to make something beautiful, which we can then give away to bring comfort and warmth to others. We may not hand stitch each and every stitch but we use every single piece of our life, making sense out of it all, then sharing it with others. Little did I realize as I watched my grandmother and my mother spending so much time and energy, I know they had to be lacking at the end of every day, to create these beautiful masterpieces and then share them with others.
I now look at these priceless masterpieces of not just my life but the lives of so many other members of my extended family. Some I remember, some I don’t, but what I do remember is there were so many moments of both pain and joy that went into the crafting of these quilts. And I realize how blessed I am that someone has made me realize that in our own lives, God takes all of the broken and frayed pieces and weaves them in with the beautiful moments of joy to bring us to where we are today and, now, WE have the power of the “stitch” to take all of the pieces of our lives to help other individuals and families as they weave the “quilts” of their lives together.
We are not broken pieces to be tossed into the trash. We are beautiful souls who sometimes need someone to realize and see the beauty left within us to then weave us back into something beautiful so that we can then give it away to others who seek warmth and comfort.
Written by Karen Hyatt, Family Support Specialist, Parenting Consultant, and Grandparent