Thursday, September 27, 2012

She Was Looking for Someone to Finish It

A small handwritten sign caught my eye as I wound my car down a narrow pine lined street above the ocean.

Turning away from my direction home as if I had known where I was going all along I began to follow a trail of paper arrows toward a small driveway garage sale. I looked over at the commitment I'd already been privileged to make that day to a fresh salmon filet and some lovely fruits and vegetables, it all deserved speedy delivery to my refrigerator.  Now I am of two minds.   I remind myself that I shouldn't be so easily distracted but  then remember  sales where  I have found wonderful treasures like the old guitar. So I could at least peek from the car.

As I drew alongside the humble offerings that edged right up to the road, I saw a tired but soft face, a woman probably about my age. Standing amidst the belongings she'd drug out into a spot of sun in front of a small cottage, she met my eyes directly, brushed her wire blonde curls away from her face and smiled. Just junk or not, now I had to stop.

As soon as I was out of the car I'd confirmed that if the seller hadn't seen me, a drive by scan would have sufficed. There was nothing unusual being offered. I said hello before I halfheartedly peered into a cardboard box of worn paperbacks. "Are you cleaning up or moving? "  I asked.

"Moving, moving on I guess you'd  say. The rent is going up again and I don't know, my daughter says she'll never come back to Carmel."

"You moving closer to your daughter?"

"Oh no, she's in L.A.  She don't like Carmel and I don't like L.A.   I've been here nine years and  I guess I'm just ready for something else.  What're you looking for?"

"Oh, I never know, but it is fun to stop and look and meet people.  I've only worked here six years but we don't have any neighbors on the cliff where we live and work so it's nice to meet folks."

I wonder  if I'm going to get lonely traveling," she said.

"Traveling where?"

"Don't know, really, just aim for places I haven't seen for a long time. Maybe I'll catch up with myself somewhere along the way."  That smile of hers showed up again.  I nodded and she kept talking. " I use to move alot, before I landed here. I got a few more things to put out, let me show you something."

She came out with a patched quilt top in her hands and draped it over a table stacked with dishes." I want twenty dollars for this.  I never did finish, " she said, "and it's got a few spots now and maybe a hole or two, but I can tell you where I got every piece of the fabric.  See, this fabric here is from when I was in Colorado.  I liked Boulder, lots of creative people  there,  especially in the winter time.  And this  here
was a dress my little girl wore and this vintage cloth was from a store three old ladies ran up north, it's from the thirties. This flower print I bought on a vacation in Hawaii.  You ever been to Hawaii?"

"No, can't say that I have.  Are you sure you want to sell this?  You could finish it, even traveling you could take it along and finish it by hand."

"My daughter doesn't want it.  It's not her style.  I do kind of hate to get rid of it, but I'm getting rid of everything else, I might as well. "

I didn't know what to say.  I wasn't sure it was my style either, but in it's haphazard wonky way it did kind of hang together and it was kind of growing on me.   And then there was the woman.  I didn't want her piece by piece memory love project to suffer any more rejection.

She looked at me and said, " I just get the feeling that this might  stand a chance of getting finished if I get it to the right person."

I had a twenty dollar bill in the ashtray of my car.

            Here it is lain out to baste the cotton batting and back on to it.
                                                                  Whimsy abounds...
                                                     And I am quilting it by machine.

 I hope that momma at least swings by L.A.  or maybe her girl will come find the meantime I'll finish up this funny old quilt top...I'm not sure who it is for...but quilts do have a way of continuing stories on their own.


charity said...

Good for you taking that orphaned quilt into your home! Kind of a sad story but a beautiful one nonetheless. I enjoyed the hopeful ending for the quilt though. :) I wish the best for that lady and her daughter. It's hard to live far from family. Isn't it?

thewesthaus said...

What a GREAT story!! Bittersweet. . .and yes it is wonderful indeed that the quilt fell into your hands.

Martha said...

It's just beautiful ♥ what an interesting story, traveling...where do go? I don't know (it's in God's hands), that's the story of life!

Celeste said...

Bittersweet, yes, and a reminder of the intersections that imprint us. Thank you for writing and sharing this moment of grace. Like you, I hope mama and daughter connect somewhere.

wayside wanderer said...

It's really sweet and the story makes it extra special. You have a lot a heart and the quilt is going to reflect that.

Sarah said...

What a personal and special find. It seems every non-commercially made quilt has a story! The woman probably is glad to know her quilt will be treasured and finished!


I am glad you "saved" the sweet memory quilt ... even if it wasn't memories you had made.


GretchenJoanna said...

When you get too old to tell the story of the quilt, if it has gone to someone who doesn't know, maybe this story of yours, telling her story, will be found printed on a paper wrapped in its folds.

Alliee + said...

Love this! Have all sorts of sewing projects you could finish. . .

Anonymous said...

I have wanted to post something like this on my site and you have given me an idea. Cheers.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

I'd love to see a follow-up post to this, Jeannette. Isn't it amazing how we can connect with another human, if only for a brief few moments? I liked her line, "Maybe I'll catch up with myself somewhere along the way." Gretchen's suggestion is a good one if you end up not keeping the quilt.