I've been sidelined a bit and haven't been out of bed much since Saturday evening, so this is just another little sappy deviation from my scrappy quilting plan for October. Note, it is probably too full of personal disclosure. If nothing, I'm consistent. You've been warned.
I had meant to find myself in a much different life. Not perhaps glamorous by any means, but somewhere much different than I am now. I grew up with large dreams of being a waitress, a librarian, a home ec teacher, an interior decorator, a wife, a mother. Probably thought I could be anything but a mathematician. I knew that wouldn't happen. What I hadn't expected was the very tangled life of single motherhood and chronic illness. I suppose no one plans for such, or at least actively pursues such a course in life.
I've lived with multiple sclerosis for the greater portion of my adult life, as is the case with single motherhood, too. In the past, I allowed myself to believe the physical limitations would stifle my dreams, and along the way, I internalized some of the negative views that others had of me. Not my finest moments to be certain.
Looking back, the consistent thread throughout all my years has been the desire to create a handmade life.
My mama taught me to sew on an old Singer Featherweight at age four. We had sat on the floor and cut out square templates from an empty black and white cereal box of generic cornflakes. I was reprimanded for misuse of sewing shears on cardboard and I learned that with a little focus and time, I could make something beautiful.
I still have that first attempt. It isn't quilted, but rather tied with pink polyester yarn, but it has held up for 36 years. A tangible representation of my mama's patience in passing on a skill that has quite consumed my life.
I'll never be a fast quilter by any means. If the title on the shelf at the bookstore says, "quick and easy..." I'm likely to pass right on by. I have a pace that isn't enviable, but it's consistent and it's mine. No rush. No hustle. Certainly slow and methodical, and notably lacking diminutive and precise stitches.
Very slow stitches. A marathon quilter of sorts. I have so many hours to myself. A half-empty nester. Too much quiet if I let it get the better of me. So I sit. I stitch. I find contentment with a needle and thread.
I say a little prayer over every section of thread I snip off the spool. I run my hands down the length of the thread conditioning it, coaxing it to release its inherent twist. I tell my thread to behave. I will it to spare me the aggravation of tangles. I pray: "Let every stitch of my needle and thread bind this quilt together with love for (insert name). May they rest comfortably knowing they are deeply cared for and appreciated. They are thought of with each and every stitch I take."
Very Joy? Definitely.
It's just what I do. So when I spend 80 to 100 hours very slowly stitching a quilt top with big wonky stitches, I thought about the recipient and prayed for them more than they will ever know. I can't hand it over to anyone else. It is something very private that goes into all those stitches and prayers. A sentiment that can't be renamed or arbitrarily reassigned. It's the very slow stitches and heartfelt prayers that hold together my very tangled life.