I know this happens to many of us, but it still didn’t temper the stark realization that, with my mother’s passing, I had become the eldest and therefore the matriarch of our family. Time that had seemingly stood still for so many years had overnight become a premium commodity. That was never so evident as in watching my five grandchildren fly through infancy, toddlerhood and now launching into elementary, middle, high school and college.
I was still sorting through my mother’s “stuff” when it suddenly dawned on me that I wanted to leave my grandkids more than boxes of photos and keepsakes. The idea festered a while in the deep recesses of my mind and finally bubbled up as a Christmas project.
I’d make each of the kids a quilt. It was September.
I don’t sew. I barely cook. Domestic activities of most any kind are a foreign language, although at the time I suspected I’d probably need to buy a sewing machine before embarking on this adventure.
I wandered in and out of a number of quilt shops, looking a bit like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming train. Sales people avoided me, no doubt sensing that I’d be a time toilet.
By mid-October, I had a nagging feeling that I needed to get this show on the road so I marched into a small quilt shop. The owner approached me and asked if she could be of service.
Ah Ha! An opening.
I want to make quilts for my five grandchildren.
She smiled knowingly.
That’s quite a project but we can help you. Do you want to have them made?
Anticipation was now in full swing and the words tumbled out in one hurried breath. Oh no, I am going to make them. It’s a grandma thing. And, the quilts have to be large as the kids are all taller than me. And, I want them to be finished by Christmas.
The entire shop burst out in wild laughter.
For a moment, I thought of bolting through the door, but I stood firm. I had come this far and I was going to make five quilts. By Christmas.
Then, from the deep recesses of a storeroom, a voice called out above the pandemonium.
Show her how to make a rag quilt! Instantly, the shop grew quiet and a soft murmuring of approval replaced the mirth.
Possible, said the owner. Very possible. How well do you sew?
I need a sewing machine. What’s a rag quilt?
Two hours later, arms overflowing with acres of flannel material, batting, a cutting board, ruler, clippers, scissors and thread and clutching a torn sheet of paper with scribbled instructions, I was exhilarated and exhausted.
I still needed a sewing machine.