When our oldest daughter, Rachel was born my roommate and I had a great time together. The ladies in the maternity wing shared a room back then. I think it was much less boring than lying in a room all day by yourself, but that’s just me. Her name was Julie, her new baby was named Susanna, and her four-year-old daughter was Juliette. She was very friendly and informed me that she was a self-proclaimed “Jewish American Princess.” In other words, she refused to eat hospital food and had her husband bring her food in every day. I didn’t mind because she would order her hospital meals and graciously give them to me. I have never been overly particular about food, especially not after giving birth. The ability to eat six meals a day at that time was nothing short of post-partum heaven!
There are other things I remember about Julie, in fact there are two of them. Julie had the biggest bosoms I’d ever seen in my life. I am not exaggerating when I tell you she could nurse hands free, sitting straight up, reading a magazine, with her baby lying comfortably in her lap. It’s not that I was staring or anything. Even at the age of 24 I knew hospital room etiquette enough to know to avert my eyes when my roommate was feeding her baby. It was she that pointed them out to me when she said, “Look at these things! I could feed Mother Russia.” I felt it was my duty to provide affirmation for her, because I was pretty sure she was right.
Overall, the thing that was most impressive to me, aside from the gargantuan parts of her anatomy, was a quilt. She had made it for her new baby. I had never seen a handmade quilt before. I had never even thought about them. The design was called Grandmother’s Fan and she’d used the fabric from the dresses that her older daughter had outgrown. She wrapped her new baby in this thing of beauty and I knew I was hooked. This was something I had to learn. And so, 35 years ago with the birth of our oldest daughter and at the hands of one of my oldest friends, Kathy Buckingham, I became a quilter.
My friend Kathy was and I’m sure still is, though she lives many miles away, an amazing woman. She was a gatherer and an organizer. She was one of us, a young mother with three small children. But, she made time for us. She would gather some of the young mothers of our church fellowship together once a week or so and she would teach us, sometimes without even realizing. It was she and her sweet mother-in-law Ellen, who she affectionately referred to as “Ma”, that taught a group of us ladies how to quilt. The teaching was a gift, but it quickly became the fellowship of women that most impressed me. We shared our lives. We prayed for one another. We had tea and muffins together. We walked through the season of new motherhood together. It was unforgettable. It bonded us and molded us. This is what I think of when I quilt. The memories, the gathering, the sweet fellowship of women. I’ve heard it said that quilting is a lost art, maybe the lost art is not the quilting, maybe it’s the gathering, the fellowship, and the sharing of our lives. Maybe it’s a big deal…