What do you say about the death of your mother? The nature of life is that almost all of us endure such loss eventually. This is the first time that I have experienced such a loss and it isn’t easy but I wish to share the life of a very special and unique woman…my Mother.
One of the more enduring mental images I have of my mother is her hunched over a quilting frame. Growing up there was always a quilt frame set up in the living room and she would work on it whenever she had a spare moment between caring for her family and home. As soon as one quilt came out of the frame she had another one ready to put in. She recently completed her goal of making a quilt for each of her children and grandchildren. I think she saw her quilts as her legacy and that was why she was so intent on creating one for each of us.
But Mom’s legacy as a quilter extends far beyond her quilts. Mom was a quilter not just of cloth, but of our lives. She took pieces of herself and embroidered them into the lives of all of us… generosity, kindness, patience, determination, tolerance and so much more.
One of the significant pieces that Mom quilted into the fabric of our lives is Caring. She had a hard time expressing her feelings but she always showed that she cared through food. She loved to feed people and always prepared everyone’s favorite foods at family gatherings. When there was tragedy within the community Mom took Food for comfort.
Another piece that Mom quilted into our lives is the sense of Community. She loved this community and could always be counted on to be there when anyone needed help. During the last three months tragedy has struck our family twice and the community has given back to us. At first my mother found it hard to accept help but she quickly learned to say a gracious Thank You.
Family was another piece of this Life Quilt. Our cousins were our best friends when we were growing up. After we became adults and became busy with our own families Mom made sure that we got together frequently for Family dinners. She loved the chaos of hosting Christmas Dinner. I have lost track of how many people sit around our table …. 7 children and their spouses, 15 grandchildren, many of whom brought their partners, 6 Great Grandchildren, ( and another on the way…!) And she would prepare the meal for all of us and love every minute of it.
Another piece that Mom stitched into the quilt of our lives was Faith. It was simply the basis of her life. Mom read her Bible and lived what she read. Serving God was a natural part of her life.
The biggest piece that Mom stitched into our lives was Love and Commitment. It has been a joy to see the commitment that my parents have for each other. For 60 years they have put the other first in everything that they do. When Mom realized that she was going to be leaving this earth her biggest concern was that she was going to be leaving Dad. She was not worried about herself. She was only worried about him. And Dad was worried about her. After 60 years of marriage he willingly learned to do laundry and cook to make things easier for my Mom.
It was difficult to watch this strong independent women become helpless as cancer took over her body. But it has been an honor to walk with her through this journey. When she took her final breath we had a feeling of accomplishment for granting her final wish to die at home.. She stitched this family together with strong stitches of love and I know that we will endure because of her legacy.