My First Quilt and the End of a Legacy

In February the blocks I began to cut,
And everyone said I must be a nut!

The days went by and I began to sew,
As my family watched the project grow.

Much progress and many mistakes were made,
As side to side the sewn blocks were laid.

I can’t give up, it’s the end of July,
And to finish it now, I must really try.

Top, bottom, and middle were finished to order,
All it needed now was a striking little border.

As you inspect carefully my very first quilt,
Please forgive kindly its unsightly tilt.

At last my very first quilt has come to an end,
And for the magic to work it must go to a friend.

So Miriam here it is, mistakes and all,
And you can start to use it by early fall.

Even if it’s true as they say, I am a little off kilter,
At least I’ve earned the prized title of “Quilter!”

July 1997

Note: I started this quilt after my mother died in 1996 of lung cancer. She had been abusive to me my whole life but I was still devoted to her even though I lived in New Jersey and she in North Carolina. She had often told me she was making me a quilt with the fifty states, with each state’s bird and flower embroidered on the blocks. Just before her death I asked her about the quilt she was making for me and told her not to worry, that I would finish it. She smiled and told me she had given it to her brother several years earlier.

Learning my mother had given my quilt to someone else hurt but it didn’t surprise me. This was just more of the same as long as I could remember; my goal was to heal one last time. I gathered materials and cut the cloth, crying most of the time. I only wanted a reason for the abuse – physical and emotional – she heaped on me all those years and up until the day she died.

Triangles made squares and those would be sewn together and complete— like I hoped to be when the quilt would be finished. Making the quilt overtook my life and my home with threads of every color used; there were threads in the bedroom and bathroom, even in the refrigerator. My family stayed out of my way, being tolerant and consoling all the while. I wondered, “How on earth did my mother, as picky as she was, manage to make a quilt?”

Then the truth walked in, sat down and made itself a home… my mother never made a quilt! She would never tolerate the threads all over or sitting still long enough to embroider or sew a quilt together. The secret was out! She never made a quilt! For the first time I could smile and actually feel it— I had cried my last tear.

My husband sent ripples through my heart, “But how do you know? You never asked those questions about the abuse; you waited and now she is dead— now it’s too late!”

He was right, how would I ever know? I would talk with my mother’s ex-husband Richard, he’d know about the quilt!

Richard and I talked for a long time about many things, finally I asked about the quilt, the ones with the fifty states. He thought for a bit and I could feel any hope of resolution slipping away. Clearing his throat, he said he remembered; there was a quilting group at the church— she couldn’t do the embroidery and sewing so she paid the women at the church to do it.

There was my answer— the quilt suddenly didn’t mean anything to me anymore. A weight was lifted from my soul— I cheated her out of the very last stab.

With the mystery solved and my heart healed I had to get rid of the quilt I had made, like an unclean thing. I wrapped it up and took it to a casual friend. I knew I would not have to look at it another day. It was done. Finished!

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

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About Jackie Saulmon Ramirez

Jackie has volunteered for more than twenty years for children and family issues. Currently she writes for parents in the "Reminder" and "Parent Rap" Facebook page. If you are interested in receiving the "Reminder," send her a message.
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2 Responses to My First Quilt and the End of a Legacy

  1. antarabesque says:

    I ‘liked’ your post, not because of the topic, but because of how you so openly and honestly wrote about it. May God heap blessings upon you as you heal.


    • Jackie Saulmon Ramirez says:

      Thank you so much. I learned I had a more difficult time mourning because our relationship was broken, I cried for a solid year. All I wanted was for my mother to love and respect me but it never happened. The revelation for me was that I was mourning the mother I wanted, rather than the mother I actually had. My only regret was wasting so many years doing what mom wanted every year on vacation: working in the store she managed or in her vegetable garden. I took my daughters to spend summer vacations in a hot trailer with her in stead of taking them fishing, to see the U.S. Capitol or to museums.

      Thank you again for your comment, I put my experiences out there–good and bad–in hopes that parents will not make the same mistakes. I hope you will look over my other articles and enjoy them as well.


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