Life is making a quilt

Bird Droppings August 14, 2020
Life is making a quilt


“Just like an old friend kinder than expected. That Cadillac came and gave our girl a ride. Loss has no end; it binds to our connection. We don’t speak of it; we don’t even try.” Golden Embers, by Mandolin Orange, Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz


Funny how events synchronistically intertwine. My son and I had been texting back and forth for several hours and I was listening to a song along the way by a band my son had recommended, Mandolin Orange. A specific line caught my attention within the first verse. “That Cadillac came and gave our girl a ride.” The song was about the death of Andrew Marlin songwriter for the group’s mother. Many memories flooded back of the summer of 2007.


It was over thirteen years ago my wife walked in and told me that my mother called and said this was to be a happy time, a joyous occasion, as we celebrated my father’s life. Dad had just passed on and we were planning his memorial. She said I think we are even having a snow cone machine. I thought to myself it gets hot in Georgia on an afternoon in June. About this same time another event was transpiring in our family’s lives. It was in early June my son had an accident towing the Georgia Tech mascot a vintage Model A Ford to a wedding. John had worked hard to become the driver of the Ramblin Wreck.


I helped my son with a project of repairing the Ramblin Wreck of Georgia Tech. Thirteen years ago my son and acquaintance a 1968 Ga. Tech graduate of Tech and I were talking about a body shop and getting the Wreck ready for first football game. Somehow or other the idea of how things fall in place came up and after they headed out I started on my idea of a quilt.


I had started thinking about my father again talking with my son’s friend and how he had been all over the world lectured and taught in countries most people will never know. Another email I recall mentioned how dad was always giving folks something; it could be a necklace with a rock from South Africa or a bola with some African trinket or South American artifact as the clasp. Sometimes it was a story or just wisdom from his years working with people. It hit me his life was like a quilt. Day by day person by person he added to his quilt.


“People come out to see you perform and you’ve got to give them the best you have within you. The lives of most men are patchwork quilts. Or at best one matching outfit with a closet and laundry bag full of incongruous accumulations. A lifetime of training for just ten seconds.” Jesse Owens, 1913-1980, American Olympian


I use the comparison to a puzzle often sometimes I feel like nearly each day as I write. But when I read this idea of a quilt of our lives it hit me. A patchwork quilt, with each piece a significant event in life yet alone not enough to make the whole. Each piece of the quilt is still independent of each other piece. My wife has a quilt from her grandmother and it was made by her grandmother; each little piece of fabric is sown to the next each little section connects to the next and in the end a quilt. We have several quilts made for our sons by a friend’s mother many years ago. A good friend in Holland is a quilter and she post’s pictures of each intricate masterpiece as she sews.


For over thirteen years during my summers I have gone up to the mountains of North Georgia and have been involved with the Foxfire program for teaching. One of the daily exercises used is where each participant makes a piece and together a quilt is created each session. The quilt is hanging on the wall with pieces added as the week progresses. Traditionally in the mountains there are sixteen stitches per inch which is the measure of a quilt I learned that while up at Foxfire talking with one of the women at the museum center. Often when I am talking with kids I will use timelines to piece their lives together but I think I will try this idea of a quilt each piece adding to the whole yet alone just a scrap of fabric. As I look back at so many memories and you know it seems to all be flowing piecing together, I like the idea of a quilt. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and to always give thanks namaste.
My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)


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