My grandma Lumadue was a quilter.
She split her time living with our family in Texas, my aunt in Detroit, and my uncle in Pennsylvania. When she came to stay with us, mostly during the winter months, the quilting frame came out. She would always be meticulously hand-stitching a new quilt to give to some lucky person. She made patchwork quilts, appliqued quilts, and crazy quilts. There was always one on the frame, and another waiting in the wings.
My sister Donna picked up the sewing and quilting bug from my grandma. And like my grandma's quilts, my sister's quilts adorn the beds of some very fortunate people who are blessed by the gift of her amazing heartfelt art-including mine.
I graduated from college in 1999, only 26 years after I took my first class in 1973! It was a long road, but I finally made it. I had a wonderful graduation party. When the guests left, I opened the many lovely gifts friends and family gave me to celebrate the occasion. There was a gift from my sister. I opened the box and found a rainbow of fabrics carefully cut into pieces that would soon be lovingly appliqued and detailed on a most amazing quilt, designed just for me by my sister. Its design was inspired by a pressed wildflower collection I made for the first class I took when I returned to finish college, biology. I loved that project, and my sister translated every detail of my project into a beautiful piece of fabric art.
It was about three years before the quilt lay on my bed.
The wait was worth it. Every piece of fabric was carefully chosen to reflect the beautiful colors of Texas wildflowers. Every embroidery stitch perfectly accents each appliqued piece. There are surprises in the quilting. I had the quilt for several years before I even noticed the spider webs and dragonflies stitching the layers of fabric and batting together. Each flower's common name is handwritten on each block. There is a new treasure to find every time you examine it.
I took a road trip last weekend to Round Top, Texas. We are graced by a spectacular show of wildflowers this spring in Texas. The conditions have been perfect (lots of fall and winter rains) for prolific blooms of bluebonnets, Indian paintbrushes, wine cups, verbena, and phlox, to name a few. I happened to have my quilt with me, and found the perfect backdrop of wildflowers to photograph my quilt against.
I hope you enjoy my quilt as much as I do.
In another post, I discussed my sister's struggles with ovarian cancer, the same disease that took our mother at age 58. Donna has endured over a year of chemotherapy-and is still receiving treatment-along with all of the indignities that go along with that. But my sister has remained dignified in her courage as she fights this awful disease; she is dignified by her continued thoughtfulness toward others, even when she is stripped of all of her energy; and she is dignified in the way she retains her faith on such a difficult journey.
She has hasn't been able to quilt since she was diagnosed, but looks forward to making new quilts as soon as she can. Whose bed will be crowned with her next creation? I don't know that, but I do know that they will be the luckiest person in the world!
April 14, 2010 update: My sister had her last chemo last week! The treatments lasted much longer than predicted (almost a year and a half of treatments rather than six months). The chemo was brutal, affecting her so much that she was hospitalized on more than one occasion from the side effects. This is such good news. I know she will be quilting again soon.