Archive for May, 2010

The patchwork quilt

It has been around a month now since my youngest daughter left home at 20 years old. The youngest of eight, her absence leaves a big hole in our lives. For me that is 42 years of a lot of hard work finished, what a complete change. The house stays tidy. If I bake, I throw the cake away later with a growing fur coat, there’s no music coming from the bedroom, nobody plays the guitar and sings to me or asks my opinion on a new song or an outfit she has just bought… It is a huge difference. Over the forty two years of being a mother, I have been blessed to have lived in the country for quite a few of them. We lived miles away from shops, people, even a bus route and where all the hustle of town life was just a distant memory. Having such a large family meant money was always tight and so over the years I became very proficient and making and doing. I learned many crafts, dressmaking being one of them.

I remember when I was expecting my first baby, money was also short then. In fact I had only one maternity dress, a grey pinafore throughout my pregnancy and I would wash it overnight to wear the next day. I remember we had £4.10s a week coming in, £2.10s of which was our rent money. OK money went further then but we still had to struggle. As my son grew a little he needed some better clothes. In those days babies were kept in night dresses for the first few weeks of their lives, no babygrows or the wonderful designer stuff they have today. So, because money was so short I took my maternity dress and made my first real garment, a little pair of dungarees for him.

From that point I went on to make many clothes, for the girls especially. They were easy to make clothes for, I made their dresses, tops and skirts for myself and dungarees and trousers for the boys, until they got to the stage when they weren’t good enough. Now, I am a bit of a hoarder and I kept all the scraps of cotton material that were left. I made many things for school fetes like dolls, peg bags, little tote bags and so on out of scraps but I also began something that has become the most treasured working possession ever.

Country living is totally different to town life. One of the main reasons was the lack of busyness and the time to relax and do things, little things like sewing and painting. All the things I still love to do today. After all there was nowhere to go, I didn’t drive so unless someone took me anywhere I was a stay at home Mum. I worked too but even with the children young I enjoyed time to be creative. It was while I was in the country I began the patchwork quilt.

My patchwork quilt is more than just a piece of craft work; it is a lifetime of memories. You see, sewn into it are the remnants of all the little dresses, smocks, skirts and clothes I made for my family. I have added other patches since made from purchased fabric but most of them are clothes my children have worn. Today one of daughters does dressmaking so I get her scraps too and leftover fragments of little clothes my granddaughter wears also become a part of my quilt.

When I look at the quilt it is not just a lovingly hand sewn piece of work, it is a lifetime of memories. A christening dress, a maternity smock, a child’s dress.. so many memories of when my children were small and, because it was started during long winter evenings in the country, it takes me back to the time when I was the happiest I have ever been in my life.

It got put away for years wrapped carefully along with the paper hexagons and cut out fabric shapes until recently when my youngest daughter started life in her own home. I had more time on my hands so out it came again. I don’t know how big I shall make it or how long it will take me to finish it but I do know that like life and me, my patchwork quilt is still a work in progress, it is also a wonderful reminder of not only my children and grand children but of a long , hard job completed. Well almost….

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Philosophy – Forgiveness

I forgave you – but I never forgot. When I heard that you had died I wasn’t sad, but then, I wasn’t happy either. It took me a while but I travelled to you in spirit, gave you my forgiveness and left you with my love.

I guessed you must have been through something really terrible to have been so cruel to us. I thought that maybe, in spirit, you could use that love and forgiveness. Having a hard time yourself was no excuse for what you did but I think I understand. In the end I refused to let you damage the rest of my life and in forgiving you, I was released. I hope my forgiveness shows you how to forgive too.

If I cry today, it is out of sadness for you. For the pain you must have had when you were small. For the anger you carried. For the hardness and cruelty in your heart that must have been so crushing. But most of all because you felt you had to carry it all, a heavy burden, and pass it on instead of forgiving and lightening your load.

I am strong now and what I went through helps me offer an arm to lean on, a listening ear or understanding and empathy to others. You gave me that knowledge so I am thankful to you for that. I stopped crying for my lost childhood a long time ago. I am happy for the lessons I learned and my ability to get to know and understand myself and others like me. I learned to like myself.

It was your misfortune that taught me to be strong, taught me to look for a reason to forgive. It was your coldness that taught me that even the most unlovable person has his own story and still needs to be loved. I know it is difficult in the physical but I understand how easy it is to love, spirit to spirit. So because I learned about pain, fear, anger, despair, loneliness, depression, anxiety and all those other emotions for myself and because I saw your pain, I learned how they might manifest as cruelty in others. I also learned that, in the physical, it is hard to get through the prejudices and conditioning of life in people suffering, just as it was with you. But, and most importantly, I learned that if I visited your spirit, or others in the same position as yourself, I could love and forgive easily. Even better still, I could ask for spiritual love, strength, comfort, hope and angel healing on your behalf.

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