I had to stay with Mama several years ago for a few months and my bedroom was at the back of the house. A particularly cold room during winter months, which I must say suited me just fine. There's something cozy about chilly air in a bedroom, and a bed piled with warm cover. I didn't mind at all the frosty digs, but Mama being the nurturing sort literally begged me to use an electric blanket. Something I unequivocally forbade. So not to be outdone by her eldest child, she brought this old quilt for me to use. I remember the first night I put it on my bed; I drifted off and actually slept soundly. Something I had not enjoyed for many years. The odd thing to me was how thin it looked, yet how heavy it felt. It was like a hug. I just assumed a dense cotton batting was used to fill the quilt. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. The weight of it was comforting to me, and add the fact that my Ma had made it so many years ago connected us in some mysterious way. Ma had passed away years before, yet I felt as if she had tucked me in for the night with her own handwork.
Mama gave me the old thing with her blessing when I bought my house because she knew how much I loved it. I folded it and stored it with the other linens. When I ran across it again last winter it revealed its secret quite by accident. I'm a self professed clean freak, so when I found the old coverlet I decided to give it a gentle wash and maybe use it again because its folksy look was lovely to me. But the setting for gentle, easy-does-it on my washing machine proved to be a bit more rowdy than the old thing could handle. When I removed it from the washer, I gasped at the rips that had taken place in the wash cycle. It was so old it couldn't handle the motion of the wash; I felt so guilty at being foolish enough to launder a relic. But I really gasped when I finally found out what made it so heavy. A wool Army blanket brought back from WWII by my own Daddy (Ma's son-in-law) was sandwiched in between the old torn fabric. This brought me to tears. Not only was this blanket created by Ma, Daddy had supplied the 'batting'. And Daddy, so many years gone from my life, was suddenly there. I was holding something that he had nestled under during the cold nights he spent in war. I have no words for that feeling.
Ma was not a seamstress and never pretended to be. She was born long before the Great Depression and learned lessons that never left her for the whole of her life after living through one of the most difficult times this country has ever known. She was a gardener with a green thumb that would make Johnny Appleseed weep. She knew stuff. Her vegetable gardens were healthy and bountiful. And she used everything in some way whether picking and cooking right away, or more likely picking a truckload and canning/freezing it for the months ahead. Ma was a gardener's gardener.
So just as she did with the fruits of her garden labor, she also used everything at her disposal whether out of necessity or because she could not, would not, throw anything away. She found a purpose for everything, and this is a perfect example of what I mean. I suppose I should call this a blanket, because it is not actually quilted but rather simply tacked at random intervals. Yet it has lasted for many decades of wear and tear notwithstanding the method she used. Made from floral patterned feed sacks and/or flour sacks, she pieced together the top and used a coarse muslin like material for the back. I suspect another flour sack was used there, too.
|The antique inside|
|A wool WWII Army blanket|
So you see what I mean by treasures being worthless. To everyone else in the world it is; but to me it's a treasure that reached out to me and hugged me while I slept.