A little something about what I've learned from my grandmother, a quilter.
Quilter’s hands—a thimble on one finger, the soft tug of thread and needle through fabric, a careful hold on the quilter’s hoop, and, when the last stitch is made, a gentle smoothing over of the finished product as she inspects her work. I’ve not seen my grandmother quilt for nearly ten years, and yet these images of her are among the most powerful ones I have. They evoke stillness and peace, comfort and rest.
The nature of quilting is such that one takes fragments and makes them into a whole. The pieces, nothing in themselves, become something more, become art. In the knitting together, everything becomes important; no scrap is without purpose.
As a young girl I did not learn how to quilt from my grandmother, but I watched her piece together many quilts. I watched her choose the fabrics, the colors, the pattern and sew them into something new and glorious.
As a woman I am learning the art of metaphorical quilting. We Murphys are in the process of grieving. The thimble fell off, and the needle pierced the skin. Deep. Shaun’s death has left each of us feeling fragmented, torn. We are quilting this loss to our other ones. The Irish Chain is suddenly showing up in what was the Dresden Plate. The colors don’t match and the patterns make no sense. But we keep stitching anyway.
Every night I fall asleep under one of the quilts my grandma gave to me. It reminds me that the pieces do come together, that what is torn will be mended, that healing comes. That there is always another thing to be stitched.