I’ve been on couch arrest since Sunday morning after waking up with severe nausea and flu-like symptoms. I’m not good at being sick or at being still, but sometimes your body insists, and so I have grudgingly camped out in the living room and am doing my best to rest.
It always makes me smile when I reach for the things that bring me comfort in times like these; old things. I started with my mom’s afghan, made for her by a dear friend from Russia many years ago. It was what she kept close always, and the one thing we took to the hospital for her at the end of her life. Dan has an afghan from his great grandmother (the “Dada”, named after his grandmother’s nickname), and we both reach for the comforting, colorful ‘blankies’ when we don’t feel well, believing in their magical, medicinal, powers.
On this third day of feeling awful, I knew that I needed something with even more magic, so I went upstairs into the guest room and picked up my most special and colorful weapon against the feel-bads; my mom’s quilt.
Mom was born in 1921 in the mountains of Tennessee and made this ‘Hard Times’ quilt when she was thirteen, giving it to me when I was thirteen in 1976. I grew up sleeping under its cozy warmth, knowing from the start what a precious gift it was. When I was very young, I slept under quilts made by my grandmother and great grandmother, but this quilt is extra special for reasons I can’t really explain.
I think of myself at thirteen and can just see my mom’s youthful impatience in the sometimes uneven tiny stitches. I wonder whose dresses and blouses were used to make it, what she was thinking as she cut the different pieces of fabric and chose how to stitch them into a pattern. Was she thinking of boys, of what her life would be? The old fabric is imbued with family history, with my mother’s youthful dreams and aspirations. I wonder if she had any idea of the comfort her beautiful quilt would bring to her daughter so many years later.
So now I’m curled up on the couch, drinking lots of water and hot tea, taking care of the endless work emails, reading, napping, and feeling wrapped in an eighty-six-year-old colorful cocoon of my mother’s love. How grateful I am for this tangible reminder of how much love I’ve had in my life and of where I came from. I think tomorrow will be a better day.