Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Housekeeper's Lament

"All Hands Around" circa 1990

... 'I've been a hard worker all my life,' she said, seating herself and folding her hands restfully, 'But most all my work has been the kind that "perishes with the usin'," as the Bible says. That's the discouragin' thing about a woman's work. Milly Amos used to say that if a woman was to see all the dishes that she had to wash before she died, piled up before her in one pile, she'd lie down and die right then and there. I've always had the name o'bein'a good housekeeper, but when I'm dead and gone there ain't anybody goin' to think o' the floors I've swept, and the tables I've scrubbed, and the old clothes I've patched, and the stockin's I've darned. Abram might 'a'remembered it, but he ain't here. But when one o' my grandchildren or great-children sees one o'these quilts, they'll think about Aunt Jane, and, wherever I am then, I'll know I aint'forgotten. ...

-unidentified author, in an excerpt simply marked "Quilting in the Litterature of Time" which was passed on to us by a Master Quilter who, when invited to speak on the subject of quilting, opens her sollilloquy with it.
The copy she passed, an old "photostat", was worn out and had been so for years. Susan no longer quilts, her unwilling body having yielded to Parkinson's Disease, and it is we who do the dishes now.
One day, Susan appeared framed in the doorway of her bedroom, heavily ladden with a neatly folded blanket, a quilt she had done for her own bed, but not quite finished properly, or at least, not to her liking.
She explained the design to me, and gave me its name. She pointed out that the outside rim's pattern is made up of fish, of her own design, and she laughed. The quilt now hangs in [my] bedroom, since nothing else would fill that large 10x10 space quite the same way, and nothing else really, would ever echo the same selfless love.