Grandma's quilt

Four years ago today my maternal grandmother died. Memories of her sneak up on me all the time. In summer I think of her when I'm in my garden; recalling her own green thumb, her fondness for flowers and all the food she grew and prepared for her family over the years. In the winter I remember the weeks we spent as children at the farm while my parents were vacationing in warmer climes.

And I dream of her often; remembering days when she was healthy, as she was for most of her long life. In my dreams we laugh and talk and I tell her "I love you". And other nights I cry so much in my dreams for missing her that I wake up emotionally exhausted. Just writing this now is making me sob. Which is curious considering that during day time hours I am not saddened anymore by her death, nor do I usually miss her in my day-to-day life. What I feel most when I think of her is loneliness for my grandfather and anticipation of seeing her again when I die also.

All of those are the normal emotions I suppose in dealing with the death of a dearly loved one. But I didn't really intend this post to be about my grandmother's death so much as how her life, and specifically her handiwork, touches me every day. My grandmother contributed SO much to who I actually am, her very personality courses through these veins of mine, but she also bestowed her handmade goodness into my life and there are touches of her throughout my whole house for which I am very grateful. Things she made years ago that I didn't fully appreciate because I still had her I treasure now.

One such gift I received, that for years has not had a proper home, is the quilt she stitched for my high school graduation (I did get it for high school, right mom?). She started it early, in my teens, intending it for a wedding gift. But my grandma was a master seamstress, an artisan woman really, and what she started never took her long to finish. Needless to say, I wasn't getting married at 17! But the quilt was ready so I received it early.

Years ago we bought a new mattress (my back will forever thank me) and since then the quilt hasn't fit right on our bed. We have a memory foam top with a wooden base that Damien built. The bed is lower than normal beds so the quilt drags on the floor. In addition our cat has claws and the last thing I wanted was the quilt clawed to shreds by our furball (the cat and I are on speaking terms only and aren't what you'd call best buds).

So for years the quilt has sat in a plastic bag in our linen closet until last fall when Damien built me a rack to hang this piece of art on the wall of our bedroom. I improvised with the pillow shams (tacked them in places not showing) and made them into a chair cover. The chair itself came from my grandparent's home and even has my name written on it, in my grandmother's hand, from the day I expressed interest in having that chair when they no longer needed it.

So many memories today. So many good, good memories. And touches of her all around.

I love you grandma and miss you very much.

« Technology - who needs it? I'd rather be in the woods
Getting rid of the TV once and for all ~ Creating a pretty bedroom »
  • Jamie

    Jamie on Jan. 11, 2010, 11:36 p.m.

    I had a similar relationship with my great-grandmother who passed just a few years ago at the age of 106. Her mark is left all over my life in things I inherrited from her and lessons she taught me. My sisters and I still laugh about stories she used to tell us and I'm so thankful that so much of her still lives on. I received an afghan from her as my graduation present. Your quilt is very pretty.


  • kristin

    kristin on Jan. 11, 2010, 11:45 p.m.

    My grandmother was very inspiring with her handmade things too, she taught me crochet and many other things. I love having some of her things, it almost feels like she is near. I also understand that ache of missing someone.


  • April

    April on Jan. 12, 2010, 1:19 a.m.

    My Grammy passed away on the day I went to the hospital to be induced with our daughter who is now 10-months old. She wasn't really a crafty person, but she had a way of making everything around her beautiful. I miss her every day. Thanks for a beautiful post.


  • Spring

    Spring on Jan. 12, 2010, 2:29 a.m.

    I loved this post, too, Renee. I have a teapot of my great-grandmother's, and the afghan my grandmother crocheted me when I was 13. Although my grandmother is still here in body, Alzheimers has taken her mind, and she no longer knows any of us.

    But this post made me remember very thankfully, that at a tea party for my cousin's birthday a week ago, my aunt brought my grandmother (to give my grandfather a couple hours off from her care), and she sat beside me, and looked at me and smiled her nearly toothless smile, and said "You're one of my babies!" and stroked my hand over and over again. It's hard to see her slip away so gradually, but I am thankful the hands the crocheted that afghan on the end of my bed, can still stroke mine. For a little while longer.


  • Denise

    Denise on Jan. 12, 2010, 2:42 a.m.

    that was a treat to read. thank you for sharing. I don't have very fond memories of my grandmas. they both died at an early age. one lived far away so we only saw each other on holidays. I never even met one grandpa - he died before I was born. my other grandma lived with us for a while. at the end of her life, she grew very mean. I was there to see all of that.

    But (a big but) - my great uncle lived with us ever since I can remember. He was born deaf and mute. No one else "wanted" him. so my family took him in. He was very crafty. Even made wood toys. I have very fond memories of him and have some of the things that he made for me many many years ago.

    the quilt looks like it was always meant to be there.


  • Rana

    Rana on Jan. 12, 2010, 3:06 a.m.

    This made me think of my grandmother that has passed. She taught me how to crochet and we loved to spend time in her garden together. When I was little she had a doll sized coffee mug which she would pour a bit of coffee in for me and a huge amount of milk. I felt like I was very important drinking coffee with Nana in the mornings. My kids never got to meet their great-grandmother, but I think they feel as if they know her from all of the stories I tell them about her. My Nana used to crochet blankets for us. I know how special that quilt is for you. Enjoy your memories!


  • jamie

    jamie on Jan. 12, 2010, 3:19 a.m.

    thank you so much for your beautiful post/tribute to your grandmother. it especially touched me as we just celebrated my grandmother's birthday this past weekend, even though she has been gone from us for 22 years. every year, on the sunday closest to her birthday, we all (aunts, uncles, cousins, great-grandchildren, and grandpa) get together for brunch or dinner, and make her specialty "mashed potato doughnuts".
    she was only 63 when she died, the age my own mom will turn this year. i couldn't possibly imagine losing my mother at such a time, with so much still ahead. i too, feel that sorrow for my grandfather, for his past two decades without her. she was a wonderful woman, crafty, great homestyle cooking, always had room for more at the table, always up for a party, and loved a good yard sale! last summer, gramp finally went through many boxes in the basement, and had us all come over and choose things she had made or collected. it is so nice to have things around that i can pause for a moment, and gaze at or hold in my hand, and know that her hand was on this at some time, and it connects me to her. it helps me remember the fond memories we had together. here's to quilts and teapots and potholders and christmas ornaments, and the wonderful women we love who made them!


  • Ellen

    Ellen on Jan. 12, 2010, 3:38 a.m.

    What a wonderful post. I can relate, I too have a quilt in storage that I can't bring myself to just put on a bed for fear something will happen to it. And the picture with the handwriting really spoke to me. My grandma passed away when I was in high school and several months ago I happened to find a card she had given me for a birthday. It brought tears to my eyes to see her handwriting again after all those years. It's funny what can bring memories rushing back.


  • Jody

    Jody on Jan. 12, 2010, 3:47 p.m.

    a Beautiful expression of love....both the quilt and the sharing of this page in your life. I have many memories with both of my grandmothers. Both women very different from the other. My mother's mother passed away a few years back ~ she was more what I consider best described as a "traditional" grandmother. She was crafty, loved to spend time "mothering" us all. She had a candy jar always full of Hershey Kisses, and the rule was: 'A Kiss for a kiss'. She was also known as the 'pie lady'....for which I was the grandchild who had that role/title passed down to, once she passed away. I do not always have the time for many pies....but for most holiday gatherings, I am the "pie lady" and I bring the pie. My grandfather is also VERY lonely since her passing, and although he is a healthy but wobbly 86 yr old grandpa, He verbally expresses that he wishes he could just be with Lucille ~ He's ready to go. My other grandmother, my father's mother....she is, well, and I say this in love & good humor ~ She can be down right ornery. She is a woman who says it like it is....whether it's what you want to hear or not and she is NOT flowery in her presentation of the point. Colorful, maybe. LOL She now has Alzheimers and doesn't usually recognize anyone. She is also in Florida, near my dad & aunt, so we don't have opportunity to see her much at all. She always traveled with her dog ~ a full size poodle whom she taught to 'sing' on demand. She wore a 2 piece bathing suit for much of my childhood (when that was just so riskae`), she died her hair red, among other colors, but dark red is the color I remember the most. She had a red convertible as well. She had all kinds of made-up funny 'sing-song replies' for lots of life's little things. I love them both. It's a wonderful thing to pass on stories and love from generation to generation ~ Women to women, mother to daughter, mother to mother, sister to sister & friend to friend. Thank you for Stirring Old memories, like sugar that had settled to the bottom of my glass.


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 22, 2010, 12:27 p.m.

      Jody, that is beautiful. Thank you for sharing those pictures of your grandmas. Might I add I see a bit of both of those women in you - Harley ridin' pie makin' woman you are!


  • Ruth

    Ruth on Jan. 12, 2010, 3:49 p.m.

    thanks, Renee - altho I thot of Mom/Grandma a lot yesterday, the tears didn't flow until I read your blog and the memories and blessings of her life resurfaced as I relived them . . . she was truly a special, integral part of our lives, one we'll never forget!!!


  • Alisha

    Alisha on Jan. 13, 2010, 3:51 a.m.

    Oh Renee! ((((hugs)))) I'm sorry for your loss. You have a rarity there, in her handmade quilt. She lovingly fit it together with her hands that patted and loved on you. She probably pricked her finger, leaving a little bit of her inside the stitches. You can wrap yourself in it and almost be in her arms. What a wonderful memory. I hope the quilt continues to bless you and your family. You can use it to tell your own kids the special stories of such a special lady.


  • Peter & Sheila

    Peter & Sheila on Jan. 13, 2010, 4:04 p.m.

    Wow the memories come flooding back of the times we visited your grandparents. The warmth of welcome the ever ready pot of tea the homemade cookies, strawberry picking, her laugh, her twinkling eyes, her hustle and bustle, sitting in her garden,her joy at taking us to meet her relations,the adventures we had trying to remember which turn to the right we should have taken when visiting Nan! Thank you for prompting such memories especially when they are all so happy ones. Bless you


  • Jenn

    Jenn on Jan. 13, 2010, 5:04 p.m.

    sweet. i have a few little things of my grannys and a few things from my grandma, mostly made for my girls, though. i recently got rid of an old radio that used to belong to my was big and taking up a lot of space and it was hard but i decided to just let it go. it was really freeing actually. i can get rid of "things" but no-one can ever take his memory from me. if it had been handmade way would i have parted with it!


  • Crystal

    Crystal on Jan. 13, 2010, 6:56 p.m.

    I read this yesterday but my computer was being cranky and wouldn't let me comment. This is exceptionally bittersweet for me right now because my Nana is currently in the hospital undergoing surgery. She is an amazing woman and my feelings for her very much mirror your own for your grandma. My husband and I have become very close with her and my Papa in our adult years and Nana and Papa have been a continual source of inspiration and love. You are lucky to have had such a relationship and to have such wonderful handmades to cherish.


  • Karlene

    Karlene on Jan. 21, 2010, 12:22 a.m.

    This was such a sweet tribute to Grandma, Renee. I still have a hard time imagining Grandpa without Grandma right by his side... organizing him, making him smile, and just doting on him with the little thoughtful things she did every day. I think of her often, and still enjoy my handmade quilt from her, too! Her life lives on in our memories and hearts. Always.


You can subscribe to comments on this article using this form.

If you have already commented on this article, you do not need to do this, as you were automatically subscribed.