Monday, April 9, 2007

Water Lilies

When I was growing up, my father told me many stories about his grandmother Nancy, who was a midwife and an herbalist. She had told him stories about her own parents and grandparents. She also lived with her in-laws for many years, and described them in detail; the interior of their home and the prized possessions that traveled with them to America (an ornate clock and an oil painting of Saint Fran├žois de Sales) My father gave me a living family tree, not just names and dates on a chart.

At nearly eighty years of age, Celestine sat down with her daughter-in-law Nancy, and her grandson's new wife, Lydia, and sewed a quilt. 21 year old Lydia chose the water lily pattern. What linked the three women was my grandfather. He is one woman's grandson, one woman's son and one woman's husband. The women were connected by marriages, not blood ties.They got along very well because they respected each other's positions in the family and they had no time for quarrels of any kind. When I asked my grandfather about these women I could see that he missed them all, that they all played extremely important roles in his life. He had depended on each of them at one time or another, and was absolutely horrified he had outlived his wife, that she had died so young, shortly after his mother had died.

The quilt was given to me in a few years ago. It was amazing to wrap myself in something that was created by these three incredible women.