Monday, October 19, 2009

I agree with E.B. White

We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting the laundry." E.B. White

Thinking of the things that give me joy, there are plenty of little things. Working and housework and buying groceries don't give me joy. I do them and don't mind them, but it takes time away from the things I like to do. And life is short. And getting shorter. I can't say how many times in my life I've been forced to do things I hate and be around people who bore me or make me angry. The older I get, the more selfish I become with my time. Things that give me joy are my family, traveling (the little I've done), any sort of needlework (even though I'm easily frustrated with it), and stormy days (just not TOO stormy). Other things please me too, but these are things I pick out as special pleasures.

I was looking for a picture of some special quilt or something to go with this quote when I found this group of pictures. It makes my heart ache to think about never seeing these ladies again. Well I might could make it happen. We'll see.

When we first moved to Columbus, I didn't know anyone else in town. Not that that mattered. I don't normally get lonely or bored and seek out strangers. But I started talking with this lady in Wal-Mart, Mary. I found out that a group of them met at a Methodist church on Tuesday nights and quilted. She invited me to join them and told me where and when. I bet she never thought I would show up and "quilt" with them for over a year.

This is Mary with Edith in the background. She didn't confine herself to quilting but did knitting and crochet too. These are some Christmas scarves she was making at the time. Her family was very important to her, and she was always taking off to wherever they would take her. I think she was a little unhappy that they didn't want her driving to Kentucky or wherever by herself anymore.

I never quite sorted out all the relationships. Two were sisters. All of them had known each other most of their lives, growing up together or going to the same church. Most were widows. The only married one's husband was disabled maybe, maybe with Alzheimer's. She usually showed up on Tuesday nights, sometimes late, sometimes muttering, but always there. I think it was as much a part of their lives as church was. A couple of them had lost children also.

At first, I don't think they knew what to think of me, some stranger coming to join their circle and one who knew next to nothing about quilting. But I have to believe they enjoyed sharing their knowledge and helping me. I believe they were fascinated that anyone could be as klutzy and slow as I was, but pretty soon they accepted me and chattered away about anything and everything. I learned more about Columbus just from sitting there listening to them. And they weren't gossips for sure. Never a mean-spirited sentence (unless it was just absolutely necessary), but they reminisced and told funny stories and teased each other and me. If I wanted to know anything about anything to do with Columbus, I had only to ask. They had opinions on doctors, dentists, home repairs, books, thrift shops, carpet cleaning, cats, dogs, grandchildren, and certainly cooking! I can't think of all the subjects they covered.

No one bragged about their quilting or their other accomplishments, but it would come out that one person volunteered for Meals on Wheels, another at nursing home. Another one took meals every day to someone homebound. They made charity quilts and helped the needy and took food when someone died. They worked themselves silly for the Christmas Bazaar in November to raise money for the church. One even took in a wayward grandson and alternately horrified and amused us with tales of his adventures. I believe that was Agnes who is not in the pictures. She had the best stories!

Someone brought a dessert every Tuesday, and we had coffee and dessert at 7:30 on the dot after a devotional reading from a quilting devotional book. They shared recipes and talked about food a lot! They shared their day lilies and quilting patterns and loved to talk about their families.

I hate that I've forgotten all their names. I remember most, but there is one that I cannot remember. The sisters were Margaret and either Evelyn or Inez maybe.

Margaret had the honor of sitting to my left, and we were always dropping things and borrowing from each other. Such a gentle lady. Clearly one of the best dressed of the group. She shared lots of things with me quietly as we stitched, and I miss her the most, I think.

Margaret with Opal in the background. Notice her red socks. I think the pattern for the quilt she was working on had something to do with goose or duck tracks. I'll have to look it up, but I loved to hear her say it. There was a long discussion one night about that pattern. Goose steps, hen tracks, turkey feet? No one could remember the name of it, but everyone had a suggestion.

Opal was working on a maple leaf pattern. It turns out that her grandson went to school with my nephew in Birmingham and played football at Alabama. The sister made these blue quilts. I wish I could think of her name! So sweet. She's on the right in green. Her hand quilting just took my breath away. I believe the other person in the picture is Pat. She came only once in awhile, and I didn't get to know her.

These are the hands of Edith (also in first picture).
She was the most productive of the group. I think she made a quilt a month - or more. She was best at the LeMoyne Star. I think that's the name of this star. She could really turn them out. She showed me how to do it, and I would make one to every 10 she did. Oh, all these quilts were pieced and quilted totally by hand. I loved Edith's sense of humor, and sometimes our eyes would meet across the table when something strange had been said, and she would be grinning. She had a dry sense of humor and a rapid-fire way of delivering her funnies.

Here is Edith in the background with Frances. Frances was the busiest bee I've ever met. She just kept going with something every day. I don't know how she had time to quilt, and I don't think she produced as many as some of the others. This was a snowball quilt that she pulled out every time, but I think she was there for the fellowship more than the actual quilting. She also was pretty much the spokesperson for the group too and the most outgoing. Funny lady.

The church was in a rapidly deteriorating section of Columbus, but it was their church, and most of them lived nearby. It was heartbreaking to see them selling their houses to go to a safer place or talking of break-ins in their neighborhoods. When I was early, I would hate sitting there in the parking lot by myself until someone got there with a key and we could lock ourselves in. No one left early unless someone walked them to their car. Like that would have helped! But it felt safer. What a vulnerable group of little ladies. I hope they're still quilting on Tuesday nights. I sure would love to go surprise them one night. They've probably forgotten me already though. Once when I wasn't there, they signed my name on a card as "Brenda." Oh well. What's a name? They allowed me to come in and play with them.


  1. I love this blog, Mama. Beautifully written, and a wonderful reminder of how precious friendships can be. And I'm sure they miss you and wonder where you went. Did you tell them you were moving? Anyway, I love that you find joy in the smaller, simpler things in life. Love you, Lise

  2. That's sweet.

    I think they knew I was moving, but I kind of gradually stopped going as we got ready to move and never really said a formal good-bye. I have one phone number in my address book, and I've thought about calling through the years. I'll plan to do that and find out about everyone.