06 March 2007

Obsession with Quilts #3

While I'm on a roll recording my obsession with quilts, I'd be remiss if I didn't spend a little time talking about my great-grandmother, Ida Ramer.

Most people don't have the priviledge of knowing their great-grandparents well, but I'm one of the lucky ones. When I was small, my parents and I lived in a mobile home on my Great-Gramma's property. She was already old--white haired and stoop-shouldered in her 80s. But she vigorously tended a vegetable garden and allowed old-time flowers like bachelor's buttons, "pinks" and hollyhocks to grow around its edges. She no longer had any farm animals except for a couple of mangy old cats to whom she fed milk and table scraps. She had an old, unsafe ringer washing machine in her basement and would wash her clothes and hang them on the line to dry.

In the winter, she'd close off the "parlor" of her house (I don't think she ever called it a parlor, but I imagine it that way) and retreat to the half of the house she kept heated. She always had cookies in the cookie jar for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. My favorite were the soft, sweet molasses cookies. In the evenings she sat in her rocking chair and sang old gospel songs with her grands. I remember she loved "The Old Rugged Cross". And during the days, she pieced and quilted.

Yes, she made quilts. Many quilts. Each of her grandchildren received a quilt when they got married (or when she gave up on them ever getting married and just gave them the quilt anyway). She also made quilts for the Relief Sale. One year, my grandpa went to the quilt auction and bought a quilt--one that Great-Grandma Ramer had made. I think my grandma thought this was a little ridiculous--to buy a quilt when Great-Grandma surely would have made one for him for free if he had asked. But my grandpa has a big heart and he wanted to make a donation to the Relief Sale. I think he also knew that my great-grandmother's quilting days were coming to an end. He gave the quilt to my mother.

And, yes, her quilting days did come to an end. She lived on into her 100s but her eyes began to fail her and she could no longer do the intricate work a quilt requires. But we have that quilt, the one she made and sold for charity and that my grandpa's big heart bought and gave away to his only daughter. And that is our treasure and our treasured memory.

Quilts remind us of those who have gone before.

P.S. The photo from the top is my first attempt at piecing something myself. I had a bunch of scraps left over from the bags I made at Christmas time so I just started to sew them together. They actually ended up looking more "planned" than they were. I'm not sure what I'll do with them yet. Pillow covers?


Kris said...

Very pretty!

AND...I did not know that story. Very cool.

Sarah said...

What a wonderful post. It makes me want to keep quilting going for the next generation. Good thing people like you are!!