This has been a really tough month for my family in terms of loss. The last two of my father's siblings died within two weeks of each other. I have traveled to both Memorial services and grieved with my cousins the loss of a father and uncle, my Uncle Bill, and then the loss of a mother and aunt, my Aunt Susie. Yesterday at Aunt Susie's service my cousin Ginger and I were reflecting on the thought that we are now the "elder" generation of our family. A woman said to us, "You are now the keepers of the stories," which I guess we are. And there are stories, which we loved hearing and love telling, about this family surviving the depression in the oil fields of Wyoming and the wilds of Montana.
Before I left, Ginger presented me with two old quilts that her mother had kept, and told me the story that went with them.
Our grandmother, the amazing Hazle, had pieced two quilt tops from a salesman's sample book of wool fabrics. One winter all five of her children ended up home sick, at the same time, with measles I think. She piled them all into bed together and when they started feeling better and bored with being sick, she gave them each a big needle and a ball of yarn and set them to work tying the quilts.
The quilt above is tied with gray yarn and the knots are secure and tight probably 80 years later.
The second quilt was tied with bright blue yarn and is a slightly different design, though some of the fabrics are the same, notably the light pink fabric.
These quilts are not beautiful and they are very old and very worn. Nothing a collector or museum would want, and not really useful as bed quilts. They are raggedy and heavy and scratchy. But there is that story about all the brothers and sisters helping to put together good, warm bedding for the family, probably having a good time in the process and a distraction from being sick. And they come from the hands of my grandmother and all my aunts and uncles and my Dad. I think there is a little soul in that cloth.