Memory quilt

Friend of Fling, Ailsa, shared a lovely idea for remembering and we think it could help in the space of loss and remembering without burdening. Let’s say, we think it has legs…

It can be a challenge sorting through the remains of a life. What to keep; what to let go. It can feel painful not to keep everything… as if letting go means someone else’s wee treasures and ephemera didn’t matter. And when it’s all the materiality left, it takes on a whole new weight. But hoarding’s not helpful in the process of moving on.

Loss isn’t just felt at the point of death of course. It’s happening all the time. It was years before I realised what a lot of loss I was carrying in me unrecognised. Not big dramatic losses but all the wee cuts. The loss of my childhood when it ended… the loss of my siblings and parents when I flew the nest. And as the years marched on, more losses. The loss of my children when they headed off in search of their own independence and adventures… the loss of my youth (so evidenced by my white mop of hair). It’s not that we don’t celebrate and welcome the next stage, the next chapter, but the loss can be bittersweet or just a lingering sadness. Hopes, relationships, jobs, friends, dreams, even memories themselves that wisp away… our losses stack up all the time.

“The idea for the memory quilt came from my daughter-in-law when her wee girl was quite a small baby. She and my son chose a range of baby clothes that they liked, had fond memories of and passed them to me.When they suggested a Baby Naming Day for the wee one recently, I thought the memory quilt would be a nice gift to give our grand-daughter on her special day. She’s our fifth grandchild and they’ve all grown so quickly that it’s easy to forget just how small and vulnerable they once were.

“I hoped the quilt would evoke memories not just for us but for the wee one and all her family.

“It took me four weeks to make the quilt from the range of clothes she wore in her first year of life. My husband and I chose items that we thought best reflected her character … the type of garment she wore, what she suited, the colour, texture, text.

“The Naming Ceremony took place when she was seventeen months old. It was held in her maternal grandparent’s village. Close family and friends were there and a lovely celebrant conducted the ceremony. It was an intimate and informal event that everyone enjoyed.

“We gave the quilt to our grand-daughter before the ceremony with a little poem enclosed and addressed to her which hopefully reflects the sentiment behind the quilt:

We hope you like the quilt I made for your special ‘Naming Day’,
It shows the first year clothes you wore in every different way,
Perhaps across the years to come and when you are old as me,
You will look at it and smile to think of how you used to be.
Love from Granny Ailsa and Will xx

“Since then, my step-daughter asked me if I would make her a cushion from items she has from loved ones now gone.” What a great idea.

If you have ideas for remembering and celebrating, let us know. We’d love to share them.

See other blogs about loss and remembering: