Friday, 23 November 2012

Gratitude. Blog 6.

Gratitude in the Garden 

Gifts come in ways that are often unrecognized at first. I arrived from the palliative care hospice to my parent’s house after a sleepless night, my mother’s last, wearier than I have ever been and heavy with an ache that I had never felt before. There was resolve and peace in my father’s arms as he met me- our deep sadness and, yes, our relief, shared. My father said “Go to the garden”. Some time before, a Sunday garden ‘bee’ had been planned by friends to help out during my mother’s illness. My beautiful daughter and I walked the path down from the house to her garden, the path that she had walked so many times. We opened the gate of Tekla’s “Tree of Life” to the sounds of soft voices, children, bees, the wind, the work. As we walked through the rows, I hugged and wept with each friend... some I barely knew but all of whom I was grateful to, both for their support and for their comforting words. The bleeding hearts were in full bloom under the warmth of the May sun, as were my mother’s deep purple tulips and peonies. After sharing our sadness, each of us continued to work: pulling weeds, raking, clipping, turning the dirt, all the while feeling my mother’s presence in the peace of her garden, taking solace in the warmth of her soil. 

Me with bleeding hearts, peonies, and Tekla with yellow Iris

Four More

Four more weeks before I can walk without crutches on my broken foot, four more quilt blocks built. I have reigned in my wild newbie quilting ways, a sightly nagging fear of making all the blocks actually work together. Starting to wonder about, eek, hand quilting versus machine quilting.... does it really matter? Especially when I know nothing about either. And how big do I make this thing? Will I have enough blocks for a queen sized quilt? What the hell is queen sized anyways? More research and helpful hints required! Fixing the sewing machine tension while taking my time to enjoy the process.

The Organ with tubal ligation
The “Organ” block made from a thin t-shirt from who-knows-where, had to use the stiff and somewhat dreaded fusible backing, sewed the labels with baby heads into the block. A nod to my mother’s love of babies, birds, and all kinds of music, even the oftentimes dreaded organ (although I am sure she would have some snide remark about the word “organ” in all it’s other tubular instances).

The Squirrel with pigeons.

The “Squirrel” block, likely another t-shirt from my New York brother with the pictured squirrel atop the Empire State Building. Lots of little annoying pieces but I love the result. 

The adventure of Costa Rica: Pura Vida!

“Pura Vida” from my mother’s second home in beautiful Costa Rica. Pura Vida, a strictly Costa Rican phrase meaning: "plenty of life", "full of life", "this is living!", "going great", "real living", "Awesome!" or "cool!" The ‘sculpted’ figure is roughly placed and will be embroidered onto the block as soon as I learn how to do that as well!

Writer's Block

Last, but not least, the “Writer’s” block (pun intended). My father, a novelist... this is his shirt, I believe, from the Shawnigan Lake writer’s festival, kept for sentimental reasons?... maybe... or just another good thick work shirt. A gracious nod to the writing world, not just my father’s world, but also my mother’s world as editor, sounding board, avid reader, and number one fan of aforementioned author:

An inspiration to remember

I wanted to share a thought from my mother’s dear friend, Ken Hancock, he wrote to me: “thank you so much for sharing this, I remember the healing power of quilting back in the 80s and 90s and how it helped my gay brothers and sisters, friends and families cope with unbelievable loss”. I hadn’t thought about the AIDS quilt ( ) for some time, how it relates to what I am doing: loss, reflection, community, grieving, quilting.  As I sewed these last few blocks, I also reflected on the loss of many gay friends in those terrible times in the 80’s, too soon, too young, life unfulfilled. A remembrance to you: Guy, Pierre, Gordie, and all the others, a sweet remembrance as I sew.

Interesting discoveries

Received a couple of emails solving the mysterious origins of various t-shirts and why my mother kept them. The “Women’s Faces” block (from my blog entry Nov. 14th) was created by dear artist friend Isabelle Roberts. And friend and close neighbour Michelle Marsden created the “Love Your Ocean” (see blog entry Nov. 8th) as part of a local beach clean-up campaign. To those women: a posthumous and vigorous applause from Tekla for allowing her daughter to reclaim your artwork in her honour!

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