The Easter Quilt

March 25, 2016



The Easter Quilt, Leslie Anne Tarabella
With my cousin and Grandmother on Christmas Day 1998.


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 in the Mobile Press-Register, Birmingham News and Huntsville Times.  You can share the story HERE


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