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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Old Quilts, Old Songs, Old Joy

by Jody Worsham
All rights reserved....for days such as this!

The Piece Makers, our local quilting guild, have been meeting at the Treatment Center for  Alzheimer's every Wednesday for several decades. The money they make for quilting for the public goes toward helping to fund the center.  They also make quilts for their annual bazar.

I have been a volunteer "guest" quilter off and on for the past twenty years.  I enjoy the conversations and the fellowship.   I am in no way up to their level of artistry or standards, but I do fairly well on a straight line.

This past week a lady brought in a quilt started by her aunt many years ago.  When the aunt passed away and her house was being disposed of, the niece found all of these tiny two inch squares scattered in the yard and throughout the house.  Tiny pieces from sugar sacks, flour sacks, and woolen shirts. Each piece had been meticulously cut.  Some of the squares had already been pieced into what would be a "nine-patch" pattern and some had only been cut.  She could not stand for this piece of family history to be treated in such a manner, so she gathered them all up.

At home she washed and pressed each piece; then pieced them together in the pattern her aunt had started.  She brought it to the Treatment Center to be quilted.  That was the quilt we were working on this Wednesday.

This quilt was pure art and fine craftsmanship.  All of the square corners matched exactly. Each nine patch was precisely six inches square.  As I was threading my needle to begin, I thought of the hours  and hours it took to get the quilt to this point.

As we laughed and talked I found myself wishing I knew the story behind each square.  Was this patch first a flour sack, then a little girl's dress or maybe an apron?  After being handed down and worn again and again, were these two inch squares all that could be salvaged and used yet again?

As we quilted and discussed the intricate squares,  an older man and a few members of his church choir arrived to entertain the alzheimer clients.  They were in the recreation room right next to the room where we were quilting. As they were setting up, I mentioned that I would like to find a country church that still sang the old church songs I grew up singing as a teenager.

"Well, I go to a little country church but that doesn't mean they still sing the old songs," commented the lady to my left.

"No, you would be hard pressed to find a church that still sings the old songs," said the lady quilting across from me. "I miss those songs."

Just then we heard the sounds of the piano giving the introduction as they began to sing.  Floating into the room, a strong single voice carrying the melody amidst beautiful accompanying harmony came "I'll Fly Away",  "In the Sweet By and By",  "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "Amazing Grace", "The Old Rugged Cross", "Just as I Am", "Shall We Gather at the River" .  The songs continued for another twenty minutes; each one calling up forgotten memories; each song seeming to make the needles glide effortlessly through the quilt. Aged backs straightened a bit, smiles creased lined faces, and our voices joined in singing the familiar words.

Had a photograph  been taken at that moment, no doubt it  would have captured pure joy...and, yes, it probably would have appeared as a brown tintype.

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