I am the type of person that in the midst of a crisis needs to “do” something. It is how I deal with my feelings of worry, angst and how I regain control of my mind, refocusing my energies to deal with the task at hand.
I pull weeds in my garden instead of pulling out my hair. I clean and organize because clearing out clutter around me relieves stress. I journal, the metaphoric brain dump onto paper, which helps me think clearer. And…. I quilt, making tiny stitches and seams, which is my way of holding it all together. I do it faithfully when things are peachy, and obsessively in the midst of a crisis.
So when we learned that my husband’s Mother had fallen very ill and was going to have open heart surgery, I knew I had to do something. After talking to her to figure out what we needed to do, she preferred to have us to take care of her other son, who has Down Syndrome. She told me that he became very worried at her appointments to the point of anxiety and it would do him good to visit his niece and nephew. Further, because we have two little ones, we couldn’t really be present for the surgery. The thought of us not being there for her surgery made me want to give her something handmade to snuggle with.
Hospitals can be stark white and not so cheerful sometimes. So, I set out to create a patchwork quilt in a theme of love and renewal. She takes a lot of pride in her garden and really enjoys spending time outdoors working in it (her garden). So the theme of my quilt reflected that. I included quite a few symbols within the threads of the quilt. Butterflies, which are the symbol for renewal & rebirth. Dragonflies which represent protection and good luck. Bumble Bees that remind us of the power to overcome the impossible. And, hummingbirds. It is said that the hummingbird brings love as no other medicine can.
As I obsessively worked on the Garden Renewal quilt, I wanted to involve the whole family so everyone would have helped with a part of it. My husband helped choose colors, and supported me through the long process of cutting, sewing, quilting and binding- by picking up other duties around the house to provide me with more time to devote to it. My three year old helped me hold the binding on as I hand sewed the edges to finish it off. And my daughter’s nursery is a secret garden, so there is a bit of her in this piece of fiber art as well.
I plunged my heart and soul into this quilt. The watercolor blending. The pieced backing. The feel of the quilting. The specific fabric choices to fit not only my color scheme but also my Garden Renewal theme.
So… although I did not have words to say how worried I was. How concerned I was about my children losing their Granny early and not really knowing her. The sadness that I felt for my husband about the thought of losing his Mom. The anxiety I felt about us gaining his brother as a new family member and my childbearing years being immediately halted. The uneasiness that I felt about us not being present during the procedure. Although I didn’t have words, I did pour my heart and soul into the quilting process and produced a lovely quilt to give. And through that process, I held our family together, stitch by stitch.
My Mother-In-Law did very well during the surgery. She was home within five days of it and continues to do very well. She reported that she had the Garden Renewal quilt with her the entire time, and wore it draped over her shoulders during recovery.
Jessica Chapman is our guest blogger this week at Clever Nesting. If you missed her intro you can read it here. If you missed her first post in this sewing series, you can read it here. You can email her at Sunnynole at gmail dot com, follow her on Twitter, read her blog, or visit her Etsy shop.