My Grandma Barlow left me all her fabric. Specifically me. She'd inherited a lot of it from Aunt Miriam when she died. Aunt Miriam was known for her good tastes and I think my grandma really valued it.

I didn't see my Grandma Barlow much before she died. My visits had tapered off to once every few months, if that. I was dating adam, and I guess that's pretty much all I was doing.
When I heard that she was hospitalized for internal bleeding, I insisted that we go see her.

Only one person was allowed in her room at a time.
At first glance it was all so unsettling. She was strapped down and tubes seemed to tangle around her body everywhere. This dignified matriarch that I usually saw in Sunday outfits had only a hospital gown thrown over her.

But when she saw me, she smiled like I was the guest and she my hostess. We held one another's hands and her skin was so pale that it seemed to glow. I can't remember what she said to me, only that it was warm and sincere; fearless and hopeful. I was shooed out when the doctor was going to put some kind of tube down her throat.

I remember feeling embarrassed about how much I cried at the funeral. I couldn't forgive myself for how I'd ignored the last bits of her life. But even then, I wouldn't go with the rest of the family to clean out her house and divide her leftover belongings. Everyone just set the fabric aside for me.

I started making this quilt over the weekend. The pattern pieces are small enough that I can use whatever scraps I have and I intend to use as much of my inheritance as possible; perhaps with some of my own favorites thrown in.

This one circle took me over two hours to make and the quilt pattern requires 56. I think I'll develop an association with each one; with her memory as the dominant theme, mixed in with whatever is going on in my own life/mind.

When I iron down the individual seams, the steam that rises smells like her house.


MiriamR said...

That was a very beautiful quote. I think the quilt will serve as a great memory and you will be able to pass down such a memorable object. What an amazing opportunity. Make sure you post a picture of the whole thing when you complete it.

micemilk said...

you're the best quilter ever. you should move to brooklyn and we can train for the 1/2 ironman in idaho next summer. or, you could train there and we can meet up next year and do it. there's plenty of time to train..

mim said...

I am almost going to cry with the the thought of the fabric smelling like Grandma's house. That is your best blog entry yet I think...So tender.

Marie said...

It's beautiful, Laura. Grandma would be thrilled with such an appropriate tribute.

laura said...

Thanks for all the female support. I will definitely post a picture when it's finished.

Cambrie said...

Wow what a talent. I'd love to learn to do that.