Last week, during our first Writer's Circle, I picked a quilt square as a writing prompt. From that square I produced a rough draft. From that draft I wrote this little story about a memorable quilt I stitched for my dear mother. Moving my mom into the nursing home was a difficult experience.
Living in her own little home for many years, she resisted when my husband and I suggested she might think of moving into something more manageable. She resisted, telling us that when the time was right, she would know and then she would go. That time eventually came and she picked out a perfectly tiny apartment, just right for her. Located in a senior housing complex, it was just across the street from the nursing home she would eventually move into.
Of my siblings, I was the one most able to care for her needs at that time. Once a month I would jump in my car, pop in a book on tape and head north, finding the four hour drive rather brief when my mind was busy listening to the next great adventure.
We all want things to stay the same forever but as it became harder to get around and after a few hospital visits she decided it was time to move across the street. Thankful that she made it easy for her four children by making that decision, it was still not easy for any of us. There was an unexpected grieving process that accompanied this move that caught me off guard. On those days around her move, I would call my husband and cry. Then I'd call my brother and cry some more. Then my husband got another call and the tears flowed again. Seeing the reality of her situation made the truth of it crash up against my heart in stormy waves with surprising intensity.
One of my favorite quotes says, I have always known that at last I would take this road, but yesterday I did not know that it would be today. (Narihara) This day I faced the truth that my mother was getting older and would eventually die because one does not get healed from old age. She would not "get better" and go home. This was the last stop.
After getting her settled, I thought of a way to leave a part of myself with her; to warm her when I was so far away. I found a pattern, picked out the fabric and quickly put together a quilt to help her room feel more colorful and cozy.
Mom loved color so I picked yellow, pink, blue and green fabrics accented by a clean white that would highlight the soft colors. I cut and sewed at a feverish pace and hired a woman to machine quilt as quickly as possible so it would be ready for the next time we visited Estherville.
My mom was graciously thankful for every little thing I ever did for her. This day her receiving smile was soft and humble. She was surprised at the gift and delighted at its significance. When I left that day I knew that a part of me stayed behind to warm her little body like she had warmed my heart my whole life.
The next time I visited, one of the aides came into her room. Mom introduced me as her daughter, the one who made her pretty quilt. The aide said, "I've been thinking that one night I could sneak in here and take that quilt home with me!" Mom looked at her and with a small knowing smile replied, "I know where you live!" We all had a good laugh and I grinned, realizing that this eighty-six year-old had kept her sweet, dry sense of humor.
Mom only lived maybe five months after I presented her with this gift of my heart and hands, but I have within me the warmth of knowing that she laid her soft little body under that warm quilt for those five months. Mom's life was about loving and blessing others. My quilt was a return, a thank you, a goodbye, a mothering of-my-own, a protection for her and a giving back for so much love given for so many years.
I couldn't change the tide of time but in one small way I softened it and drew it in close to my heart in an accepting embrace. Perhaps the covering for mom helped comfort and enable me to endure the unwanted, unpredictable but inevitable storms coming just a few short months away.
Psalm 119:76 May your unfailing love be my comfort...
Do you have a memory of a gift you've given? I'd love to read about it in the comments section!