A Confession

When the Boy was born my grandmother made him a baby quilt. It was pieced together with vintage fabrics, had wool lining and was altogether sweet. She also sewed a little cover for it so that it could stay clean because she wasn’t sure how it would wash. I used to lay it out on the floor for him to lay on in the sun while I was busy in the kitchen.

I’ll admit, I was somewhat jaded about baby blankets that year. I’d gotten more than 20, all handmade, all from family and friends. Some were just little receiving blankets, some were crocheted, some were knit, one that I still have was made by a woman with brain cancer, but she made my new baby a blanket anyway, she was so excited about his coming birth. He was the first grandchild on both sides and great grandchild on some. We were rich in blankets, and we lived in a 1 bedroom apartment that didn’t have room for many things.

When the Girl was born we still lived in that one bedroom apartment. With her birth came even more blankets and quilts. When my MIL came up to help, she brought her youngest 5 children with her. At night our apartment was wall to wall bodies sleeping on the floor. I gave the quilt my grandmother made to someone to use as a bed, to soften the floor somewhat. In the morning we picked our way through the make shift beds to get breakfast. And then the inevitable happened. One of the smaller kids tried to walk through the living room one morning carrying a full glass of thick chocolate and banana breakfast shake. They tripped, the shake spilled and my MIL did the laundry. I remember her asking me if there were special care instructions for the quilt and remember saying, “Just wash it.”

It came out of the wash shrunken, wrinkled and bedraggled. Months later I was moving, and sorting, and I quickly placed the little quilt in the large pile of baby blankets that I was sending with a midwife friend of mine to South America to give to the new babies that she would be meeting.

Years later I found the card and letter that my grandma sent with the quilt. As I reread I saw, with a pang of guilt, that she had advised me to only use cold water, and hand wash the quilt, or it might shrink.

Every time I look through crafty vintage type sites, like this one, I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I remember that quilt, and realize what I had and ruined and so carelessly gave away.

I look at my kids as they spend hours staring at the squares on their blessing quilts that were decorated at their baby showers, and I feel sad that I don’t have the one that my grandmother made to show them too.

Perhaps it’s mostly because I realize she won’t be around forever. She won’t always be making quilts. I have a silly little gauzy lace apron that my great granny passed to me before she died, and I remember her with it. I remember the day she gave it to me, what she said, how she laughed. It’s a little something of her to hold on to now that she’s gone. I haven’t seen my grandmother since granny’s funeral 3 years ago. I’ve started wondering if I’ll see her again before she dies. I don’t know when I’ll get back to Canada, to my hometown. And so I’ve started mourning the loss of that little quilt instead. If I could somehow have that quilt again I could slow the passing of time, hang on to her a little longer, and have something to touch and remember her by.

This is mostly silliness. Last I heard grandma was still dancing up a storm on Wednesday nights. She still writes cards and letters to me and the kids. She still draws little hearts in the margins with pink pencil crayon. I hear that she is well. But that doesn’t stop the inevitable, though it may slow it a while.

And so I continue to berate myself for the loss of that quilt. I continue to experience that feeling deep in my gut that is almost pain and I continue to wish that I had done things differently. And I know that it is silly, and irrational, and a classic case of externalizing things, but it continues nonetheless.

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