Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Every experience deeply felt in life needs to be passed along - whether it be through words and music, chiseled in stone, painted with a brush, or sewn with a needle, it is a way of reaching for immortality.
Thomas Jefferson

I remember the exact moment I decided what I wanted to be remembered for, my little bit of immortality. I was 39, worked full time, had prominent roles in several worthy organizations, and was childless by choice. I'd dabbled off and on with patchwork over the years, along with other needlecraft, but I'd recently hand-quilted a top appliqued by my mother-in-law as a wedding gift for her daughter. I had little time to make tops but could always fit handwork into my schedule, while she found the hand quilting process bothered her neck and gave her headaches, but appliqueing did not. We struck a deal, and by the time I finished that double-bed size quilt, I not only knew this handcraft was what I wanted to devote my time to above all else, I also knew that my quilts were what I wanted to be remembered for.

I felt this was quite a departure from what everyone else I knew thought was important - what might end up in an obituary to describe one's life. Civic leadership, career achievement and advancement, even children were all the ways others planned to define success in their lives. Not me. I wanted something a little more tangible, a little more lasting, something that, even if the link between me and it were lost, someone in the future might pause over it in awe, wonderment, appreciation or just enjoyment.

It wasn't long after that epiphany that I got the opportunity to quit my job, learn my craft and start amassing a legacy. Some quilts have already gone to new owners - relatives, friends, the needy. Some I will always keep for my own enjoyment and hope they go to appreciative homes after I'm gone (yeah, I know - make a list and get it in the will). The more recent twist in the legacy making is wanting to make quilts that may sell, going to a different type of appreciative audience than I originally envisioned. It's been an exciting journey, and I don't regret my decision to start down this path, forgoing the more typical means of "reaching for immortality."

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