Thursday, June 5, 2014

My Butterfly Quilt

My quilt is not a show quilt, not like those that resemble a painting, where every thin strip of fabric is a brush stroke shading into the next color. It's not one with an intricate pattern with names like Dresden plate or prairie star or cathedral window. Simple green and pink butterflies are appliqued on off-white cotton. The stitching is not perfect, the original colors have faded, the edges are worn, and the very thin lining is leaking out.

Yet I love it because  my mother made it for me. I don't remember her making it. It seems it was always there in my room. I imagine it was in my crib before I graduated to the old spool bed that had been my father's, and which, years later, I am still sleeping in. I do remember being wrapped up in it as she or my father read to me at bedtime, cuddling with it and my cat Patsy on the old red sofa, and dragging it with me from room to room. So when it was finally consigned to the cedar chest, it had been worn thin with love.

I wonder now about my mother's decision to make this quilt. I know she and my father were overjoyed when I was born, not just as any parent would be, but because two years earlier she had carried a baby to full term only to lose her--the older sister Carolyn whom I would never know. Was she making this quilt while awaiting my arrival? Was it an activity to keep her from worrying about another tiny coffin? Or did she make it after I arrived sewing these tiny butterflies in a spirit of celebration.

Whenever she made it, I am glad she chose butterflies for the theme. I have always loved butterflies--their magnificent colors, their emerging from the cocoon, the story of their migration--all of that. Or maybe it is memories of being surrounded by them in the arms of my mother. 

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