To me, quilts are Americana, history and family. My mother had a love hate relationship with her sewing machine. Sometimes she’d sew something and then in frustration tear it all apart. This happened when she made us quilted Christmas stockings. Each one was different and custom made for my sisters, brother, and me. I still have my stocking and hang it on the mantle each year.
Because of the Christmas stockings, I have always been drawn to quilts. I have scoured estate sales and garage sales. A friend made art from crazy quilts. Crazy quilts are a wonderful family history and I have one that has pieces from the 1800s.
Nine years ago my mother was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer that had metastasized to her lungs and bones. Needless to say, this devastated our family and even as I type this, I am struck about how it seems like yesterday that my mother was well. Now there are a million little reminders and treasured memories that are sometimes sad and other times humorous. Once my mother was diagnosed, she rallied and fought valiantly, living the rest of her life by volunteering and servicing others. She had started a quilt and planned on making quilts for each girl in the family. She purchased all of the material and slowly started. But with treatment and life, they were not completed. Five years into her battle, a friend from her church said she would bring women over and they would work on them together. This was much more than completing the quilts. This was community, uplifting conversations and fellowship—women coming together to support their friend. We each participated in tying the knots that held the quilt together—very fitting in my opinion. The result was four beautiful quilts in which my sisters and I treasure. This is a lasting gift my mother wanted us to have.
My mother also wanted to create a quilt for my daughters. The same friend from church promised to help and we headed to the store with the girls and my mother who was nearing the end of her fight. She wanted to come, share the experience with and create those lasting memories. The girls gathered their tee shirts from sporting, school, and life events and picked out complimentary fabrics. My mom’s friend put them together and the front of the quilts were done before my mother passed away. I need to find someone to finish them, since I also have a love/hate relationship with sewing and have two broken machines sitting in the basement. But what was important were the memories, the idea of working on something together and creating not only the gift of the quilts but the gift of time and conversations with my mom.
My daughters keep telling me I have to finish the quilts. This is truly bittersweet to me. Finishing the quilts will mean my mother truly isn’t here to share the experience. Having them sit there, raw and unfinished is pushing the harsh reality of her death at bay.
I know I will have to complete them, simply because they are too beautiful to remain otherwise. And I want my daughters to have the same treasure I have, that last gift and memory of togetherness.
On January 26, 2013 my mother passed away with her family at her side.
Quilter/writer Madelyn Hill has loved quilts since she was eight-years-old and her mother made her a quilted Christmas stocking. Throughout the years she searched estate sales and many flea markets with her mother and has purchased some lovely quilts. Madelyn has created many sewing projects from clothing to curtains to blankets. In fact, she was known as the quillow queen for a while until she broke her sewing machine. She has to send her machine off to be fixed as the pile of sewing projects is growing. When Madelyn is not sewing, she teaches by day and writes sensual, historical romances by night. You can connect with Madelyn at www.madelynhill.com