The Easter Quilt
It was Christmas day 1998 when I took the scissors and cut my grandmother’s quilt into pieces, but looking at one of the remaining scraps now, always brings to mind the beauty of Easter.
The quilt was originally started by my great-great-great grandmother for her daughter, but for some reason, she never got around to sewing the back on, so it sat for ages, unfinished. Years later, the geometric top was rediscovered and finally completed for my grandmother’s wedding gift when she was married on Christmas Day, 1938. Deemed too sentimental to actually use, she tucked the heirloom away in the top of a closet where it sat for six decades. The beautiful blanket was never tossed across a bed or used to cuddle a sleepy child. What was originally intended as a generous gift that would bring warmth and comfort to loved ones, was instead put aside and forgotten.
And so the quilt sat. And faded. And then, when it began to rot, grandmother pulled it out and we were amazed that even in it’s shabby condition, the expert craftsmanship of tiny hand stitching was still evident. What should we do with it? Too precious and full of memories to toss to the curb, but too far gone to be of any use. Grandmother had no need for it, but who should get the quilt? I was quick to mention I was the eldest grandchild and loved quilts, but even then, I wondered what in the world I would do with it. When pressed, none of us really wanted it.
After the busyness of Christmas day came to a close and the kitchen cleaned, we settled down for the evening and spread the quilt on the living room floor where we gathered round to think. In this stage, the quilt looked appalling. A radical plan was proposed, but could we bring ourselves to do it? The seven cousins were in agreement and decided to accept the dare.
Making sure one last time everyone was on board, I was given the task of slicing the fragile fabric, and with the giant shears, steadied my shaking hand as we all held our breath and I made the first cut.
I’m sure in the farthest corner of my great-great-great grandmother’s mind, she never thought her hard work, meant as a gift of love, would be forgotten and ultimately torn apart in mere minutes by those for whom it was originally intended.
Eight fragments of the threadbare quilt were cut and distributed to the cousins, with one left over for my grandmother to keep. Like the others, I took my quilt piece home and had it framed, then jotted the provenance on the back. After I hung it on my wall, I stepped back and was surprised to realize something of a metamorphosis had occurred.
The once rotted and damaged quilt was transformed into something new and beautiful. Our framed quilt squares had become stunning works of art — almost modern in their graphic qualities and instant conversation pieces that decorated the cousin’s homes in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Virginia and California. The fiber artwork united us and gave new life to the treasured family heirloom.
The rejected quilt was made into something new and perfect through the process of being sacrificed and shared, and I guess that’s the part of the story that reminds me of Easter.
Knowing something as horrifying as the crucifixion can be turned into the beauty of the resurrection, reflects God’s mercy that has the power to turn our weaknesses and ugliness into the stunning works of art we’re meant to be. Our damaged and tired pasts, full of imperfections can be made fresh with a new story to tell, perhaps with a purpose we never could have imagined.
The quilt was given as a gift of love for a Christmas bride and decades later, on another Christmas evening, was forever changed. And now, whenever I look at what was once tattered and worn, I’ll always see something fabulous and be reminded of the miraculous transformation — just like Easter.
This story first appeared on AL.com in the Mobile Press-Register, Birmingham News and Huntsville Times. You can share the story HERE.
I tried to leave a comment on the AOL page itself to no avail. 🙁 This was the message:
Just like Easter indeed! My eyes are filled with tears at this beautiful story Leslie Anne! My own grandmother gave me five quilt toppers made by my great grandmother. I have finished one and it is in my sons room to use when he needs extra warmth and love. A second is on the guest room bed. I am now working on the third.
Have a joyous Easter!
Laura, first of all, thanks for trying to leave a message at the newspaper site. You have to jump through some hoops to do it, so thanks for giving it a shot. Secondly, I’m so glad you liked the story and how amazing that you have five family quilts! It’s so nice you have the skill and talent to be the one to complete them, and it makes me smile to know your family is now able to use them.
Thanks for the note, and Happy Easter to you!
I have quilt pieces that I found from my Mom’s family. I have cut them into squares and was not sure what to do with them. I think you have just helped me make the final decision. Thanks
Make sure to take it to a professional framer so they can seal out any moisture. With all of our humidity down here I was worried about that. The quilt was in bad enough shape as it was! Good luck!
Great story and analogy to Easter! You have such a gift of words! And that was a wonderful idea to split the old threadbare quilt, so that many could enjoy and treasure it! I’ll have to remember this! My FIL was famous for “saving the new, good stuff.” Bless his heart, he wore holey socks, and his underwear and linens were pitifully worn. When he died, we found stacks and stacks of all of these things brand new, unused! I’ve learned to use it! My kids probably won’t appreciate it anyhow, if left it to them! LOL! Hope you have a wonderful and blessed Easter! 🙂 ~Rhonda
Thanks Rhonda. I think the “save it” generation had been influenced by the Great Depression to the point of not being able to enjoy some things. Bless their hearts. Life was rough, but I’m happy to use the good things while I’m still here to enjoy them!
Great story! It’s so sad that our ancestors put precious things away to “save” and then it looks like they were forgotten. My grandmother did that too. It’s great that you and your cousins have this fragment of a family heirloom with such a story, and it’s a beautiful piece of art on top of that!
I’ve always been in the camp of, “Use it!” I’ve broken some glassware that belonged to a grandmother, but I’d still rather have the memory of using it than staring at it in a cabinet somewhere. Thanks for reading and the nice comment Judy. Hope to see you soon at Down in the Delta!
This story was so powerful. Great analogy. It just touched me deeply.
Thank for taking the time to read it Sandy. I’m so glad you liked it.
Wow! What a lovely story. Thank you for sharing it.
Glad you liked it Kelli. Happy Easter to you.