I never knew my mother-in-law.
She died of breast cancer a couple of years before I met her son. (www.breastcancerawareness.com)
She was a mystery to me–a woman in pictures taken long before I came into the family, a person my husband could not describe other than, “dark hair, not very tall”. As time went on, he characterized her to our son as someone who could terrorize small children into eating their supper. “Eat it hot now, or cold for breakfast,” my husband would quote her as saying.
This always makes me smile. Because while he remembers her as a mom, I’ve grown to know her as a person–through her quilts.
Now I don’t claim to be a Quilt Whisperer, but I’ve done enough quilting to understand the process. And it is a process, you know: choosing a pattern or designing your own, selecting fabric, color placement, cutting, piecing, and on and on. If you’re not someone who enjoys the process, (Are we there yet, are we there yet?”) don’t even start.
Yet so many choices are made along the way, that by the time a quilt is finished, it’s very much like a life story. Some days, I’m so tired of the colors in a certain quilt that I can’t wait to be done with it and pitch it into a corner. And much like certain books, sometimes I’m so attached to the work, that last stitch of binding is bittersweet, knowing that I’ll never recreate this quilt again. The fabric was so lovely, the process so fulfilling and the time of my life so remarkable, that I’m sorry to have it all end.
Even an ugly quilt has its place in my life. I dedicated precious time, effort and creativity to bring it into existence. Every stitch in every quilt tells my story.
And so it is with my mother-in-law. Her quilts tell the story. Little by little, piece by piece, I learn about her by watching her grandson snuggle under a quilt made long before she knew precisely who would enjoy it.