Life is making a quilt

Bird Droppings June 15, 2022
Life is making a quilt

Nearly fifteen years ago, my wife told me that my mother said this would be a happy time, a joyous occasion, as we celebrated my father’s life on a Sunday. She said we even have a snow cone machine, and I thought it gets hot in Georgia on an afternoon in June. About this same time, another event transpired in our families’ lives. I helped my son with a project of repairing the Ramblin Wreck of Georgia Tech. Fourteen 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 the 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 and remembered talking with my son’s friend and how he had been all over the world lectured and taught in countries that most people will never know. Another email I recall mentioned how dad always gave 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 wisdom from his years working with people. It hit me that his life was like a 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 often use the comparison to a puzzle each day as I write. But when I read this idea of a quilt of our lives. A patchwork quilt, with each piece a significant event in life, alone is not enough to make the whole. Each piece of the quilt is still independent of the other piece. My wife has a quilt from her grandmother, whose grandmother made it; each little piece of fabric is sewn 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 posts pictures of each intricate masterpiece as she sews.

For twelve years, during my summers, a few years back, I went up to the mountains of North Georgia and have been involved with the Foxfire program for teaching. The instructors have used an exercise where each participant makes a piece, and together a quilt is created each session. The quilt is hanging on the wall, adding pieces as the week progresses. Traditionally in the mountains, there are sixteen stitches per inch which is the measure of a quilt. I learned while up at Foxfire, talking with one of the women at the museum center. Often when talking with kids, I will use timelines to piece together, but I think I will try this idea of a quilt each piece adding to the whole, let alone just a scrap of fabric. As I look back at so many memories, and you know it seems to all be flowing and piecing together, I like the idea of a quilt. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and hearts and always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)


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