I love my new background. I chose it on the Fourth of July, when I wrote my last post, because it looked fresh, summery, and inviting. There's just something about old, careworn quilts that I love, especially quilts with stories. My family doesn't seem to be too big into quilting, but someday I will inherit a very old quilt made from silk ribbons. I hope I have this story right...(Mom, let me know if it's not!)
My great-grandmother lived next to a cemetery and in those days the ribbons were made from real silk, instead of the plastic stuff they're made of now. After a time the cemetery caretaker would take down the wreaths, and offer the ribbons to her. Mamie would take them and hand-stitch them into beautiful, soft silky blankets. One particular quilt she pinned a note to explaining that it was for her first great-grandchild. She died when my mother was just a child so this blanket was made with hopes for the future in the belief that the family tree would keep on going. My great-grandmother probably figured it would be a child of my aunt's, being the oldest, but it was my brother Adam in 1980 that was the fulfillment of her future hope.
It seems that families and quilts go hand-in-hand. Patches of clothes and bits of fabric, silk ribbons saved from the cemetery, stories in every piece, love in every stitch, plans and intentions for warmth and love to continue on.
And I think of my family as a patchwork quilt, sometimes a crazy quilt. I have a hard time defining my family. If you asked me about them I'd have to ask you 'which one?' With Mom and Dad being divorced I've got step-parents, step-siblings, even step-nephews in the mix now. Of course I have my brother, his wonderful wife, and his precious baby girl to count. I've got family on my mom's side, and family on my dad's side. I consider my in-laws to be my family giving me two more brothers, another sister-in-law, a niece, and a nephew, as well as many aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents. And of course, there's my very own nuclear family: Curtis, Shiloh, Bode, and even Simon the Cat. We're a small family, and very furry, but we're a family all the same.
If I could turn my family into a quilt it would be colorful, vibrant, with many patterns and styles. My mom would be represented by soft pastel flowers, her sister by bright bold colors, my baby niece with little pink teddy bears, my 4 year old nephew with John Deere, my PapPap with corduroy sturdy and warm, my Grandpa with something red, white, and blue for his time in the Navy.
The pieces of a quilt don't all have to match or go together. By arranging them just right a mish-mash of fabrics can turn into a beautiful piece of art and love. The pieces of my family quilt don't all match or go together, but they're arranged just right, by God, in my life. When I finally abandoned the idea that a family is defined by only one certain set of criteria and simply let God shape and mold my family, or families, I was given a beautiful gift. A crazy quilt hand-stitched by the Ultimate Creator. He choose each person with care and placed them just right in my life, and I was placed just right in theirs. Some of the edges are frayed and the pieces might not be quite square, but it's a masterpiece all the same.
Some people think that divorce means broken homes and broken families. And sometimes it does. I see a lot of that with students at my school. But in my case...God took all of us torn fragments, added some fresh new pieces (the next generation of my nieces and nephews) and made something whole out of it. My family might not look like the ones on TV, or like the people in the next pew at church. But my family is mine, patches and all. And like a warm cozy quilt stitched up with love, I appreciate it and value it very much.
Someday I will be able to pass on one of Mamie's silk ribbon quilts to the next generation, and my intention and my prayer is that something far greater goes along with it. I want the fibers of a family to be sewn up into my future little ones and my nieces and nephews--faith, love, acceptance, forgiveness, graciousness. These core values, the fibers of a family, is what brought all the pieces of my 'family quilt' together and what keeps us together. And its that family quilt, the one that isn't tangible, that is the real legacy.