A decade ago, a week or so after the birth of my second son a woman I didn't know very well ‚ a friend of a circle of friends ‚ approached me with a gift. A gorgeous, hand sewn crib quilt. I was taken aback at the amount of effort that had gone into this, and before that moment I wasn't sure she knew my name. But there she had been, an outsider among outsiders, working quietly to make this beautiful object in her spare hours. She was bookish, painfully shy, bright and kind. A plain girl (when I knew her, girl is the right word) who I doubt owned makeup or a decent pair of shoes; round faced, soft hands, modest. I never saw her without a needle in her hand.
Such women, in my experience, invariably have a rapier wit, a bawdy side, and a lovely singing voice, but I didn't get to see any of these. I have no doubt they were there, though. I saw the wallflower, drawn to the fringes, a woman at home with escapists. These choices speak of a rich, inner life. But I never saw this, either. I saw the quilt.
This was in my son's crib before he was a month old. After my horrifying train wreck of a divorce, when my ex had taken *everything* and I returned to Canada without so much as plate or cup, the quilt was in a cardboard box with chipped and cracked debris she didn't want anymore. The quilt was a treasure. I washed it and tucked my son, then three, into bed with it that night.
When he became too old for such obviously babyish things, it was stored away, only to be brought out a few years later at the birth of my daughter, and then as she outgrew the crib and moved into her first bed, my newborn son took her place beneath the quilt's geometry.
I found out today that the woman, the quilt's author, died this week of brain cancer. Her name was Cathy Buckle.
A few minutes ago, I tucked in my youngest child into bed under that quilt. He is two, and the quilt will last for a hundred years. It will be there for my grandchildren, and their children. A beautiful, simple thing, made of one drawn needle after another. Time consuming, and therefore timeless. How I wish more of my life were like this; careful and beautiful and deliberate.
Someone I barely knew just died. But she gave me a gift once, and that gift touched my life and the life of my children.
posted by Jordan Stratford on his BLOG on Saturday, February 03, 2007 at 5:22 PM