A Family of Quilters
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The Unique Connection
One of the ways to help families is to find a strong connection which they had with the loved one which focusses on the whole of life rather than the last, painful days. The link that this particular family had was quilting.

Opening Poem
Months pass, carefully hand stitching
Convex to concave, each fine seam.
This German woman prides in her work.
Searching through scraps saved from years
of sewing for children, grandchildren;
she cuts the shapes needed for each block.
Mother gently touches the fabric
dresses worn as a child. We wonder why
this was used twice, others just once.
A sociable woman, how Hanna loves
chatting on that candlestick telephone.
Hands always sewing;time never wasted.
There is not enough green for the gently curved
pieces that pull together the beauty of the whole.
It's difficult finding more in a small 1920s town.
The quilt assessor notes the substitution,
perhaps a later dye lot. A valuable quilt,
I'm told. Completely hand made.
Top finished at last, women gather around the
frame that great grandfather built. Conversation
is lively as fingers fly. The quilting soon done.
Her friends admire the unusual design. Four muslin
patches alternating with five calico. Each surrounded
by a ring, making the border a series of crescents.
Grandmother's gift hanging on my wall.
Sewing machine whirs, stitching the fabric
bought, not saved. Quilting a new tradition.
-- Anne Johnson, 1998

The Link

Quilting is a fascinating art. Most of the traditional patterns can be made from configurations of triangles, squares and rectangles. Yet from these shapes come cozy log cabins, flying geese and almost as many variations of stars as are found in the heavens themselves.

Every step of the process of quilting requires precision. The individual shapes need to be cut precisely or they cannot be sewn correctly. The sewing must be carefully done lest the triangles are rounded or the squares lopsided. And once the individual squares are made, they must be joined with borders cut straight and pieced together so that there are no variations in the width.

And then there is the back. Choose the wrong fabric and it may fray; choose a fabric which does not complement the top, and you will not want people to turn your masterpiece over; a beautiful facade with an unsatisfactory foundation.

In many ways, quilting is a wonderful metaphor for the family, and an especially fitting for ______s family - a family of quilters and a family quilt. I think a family should be like a sampler quilt; each block made from the same stuff, but uniquely it's own. Each member of a family has the same nature and nurture, but a shape and configuration uniquely his or her own.

As unique as each person may be, ideally they will be joined together with mutual respect and love, which they are able to demonstrate to one another. But they also need a firm foundation of tradition and values; without this backing, a family may present a good front in simple times, but may fray or not hold up to scrutiny in time of trouble.

Finally, quilting is often passed from generation to generation, a concrete representation of the continuous thread which runs through a family as time passes: babies are born, new squares made, and yet the influence of those who have gone before is seen forever in the handiwork which is left for us.

I did not know ____, but I saw and heard about how her mothering bore fruit in the quilt which is her family. Daughters who remain close, bonded by love of family and love of quilting; grandchildren who move away from home but keep in constant touch with parents; great grandchildren who were a joy to great grandmama, and are the apples of their own grandmothers' eyes.

____cut the pieces well; she made each individual block with equal care, she added borders of common interests and values, but most importantly, she gave them a backing which provided a firm foundation, giving them strength to care for a sick and dying mother in a spirit of cooperation and love; it is this same foundation which will give them the courage to face their great loss together.

Just as Abraham and Sarah wee ablessing for generations to come,so will ____be to the generations of her famiy who will benefit from the precision and care which went into her family quilt. Amen

I have to confess I'm a quilter.