A special birthday gift

December 1, 2012

Last July my family celebrated my only and favourite sister’s birthday. It was special. A birthday with a round number, the type that is more striking than a yearly celebration, you know? We had planned  a beautiful celebration for my sweet little sister. Each of us had a personal and particular idea for a gift. I had mine too but I needed everone’s help. By now, you should know what I had in mind 😉

A quilt of course ! Here it is :  our common project and my personal gift for Françoise’s birthday. Improvisation for the sewing part but not for the preparation ! When I asked family members and friends to give or send me one or two pieces of their used clothing, they did not know what I was up to (at least not all of them) but they joyfully agreed. The most difficult part was to get some used clothing from my sister herself. She was not meant to know anything about our project.

quilt Françoise, 5

Spring and particularly Spring cleaning helped me. Some time in February I told Françoise of the great feeling I was experiencing in sorting out my wardrobe, getting rid of clothes I no longer wore even though I liked them a lot. Which I absolutely meant.

“What a good idea ! I think it’s time for me to do the same.” said my nice  sister.

Taking a deep breath I told her : “Great ! why don’t you send some of your used clothes to me ? I know what to do with  them”.

And this is how it all started. After a few weeks my sewing room looked like a “souk” or African market. I was a bit panicked before sorting out the clothes I could use or not (too beautiful to bring my scissors close to them). The leftover garments I gave to an “Emmaus” charity shop.

The overall blue material in the quilt comes from a pair of linen trousers my sister wore and the grey stripes used be a shirt  belonging to her companion.This silk blouse and black velvet pullover, for instance, were amongst the favourite clothes worn by Françoise. I hesitated a long time before cutting through them but I knew she would love to find pieces of them again on her quilt. Underneath the block, Ninio-the-Beagle is “stuck” in total admiration 😉

A precious block made of one of my mother’s aprons bordered by a piece of her embroidered handkerchiefs. The hook belonged to my grandfather and the heart is sewed in one of my grandmother’s dish cloths. The three of them were very present in our hearts all along the birthday celebration.

Some family men’s  silk ties that have shrunk quite a bit.

T-shirts from family and friends.

quilt F. VeniceRomantic and beautiful, one of Françoise’s  T-shirts and Summer skirt.

quilt F. mom & dadScarf and pyjama as a flower.

Sons, nephews, cousins, friends: their T-shirts and shirts tags

A weaved T-shirt and the cuff of a cotton blouse.

quilt F. Dom & F 2

Precious  : one of my sister’s best friend clothing, her checked black and white trousers and rose t-shirt. My sister immediately remembered those clothes.

“We all love you, Françoise” (title of the quilt)

quilt Francoise, détail, coeursWith all our heart !

Françoise was So surprised ! and delighted. Such  excitement as she tried to recognize what belonged to whom, including her. A lot of fun. And a happy quilting that brought back memories, places, events. Sewing together all kinds of materials was not exactly easy but I enjoyed the slightly wonky look of this quilt. Different.

To leave, not far

June 27, 2010

“To leave,  not far, just somewhere else”

This is the  meaning of these words in French. The card is drawn by an artist named “marie-antoinette” and I chose it to say good-bye to two of my friends who died a few weeks ago.  Hence my silence on this blog. I just did not feel like writing, please excuse my absence.

They were friends of mine but they did not know each other. We had been writing to one another for about thirteen years. Hundreds of letters from outside to inside and vice versa.  We shared our daily lives, present and past,  our joys as well as our sorrows, our regrets and our hopes, our memories, our reflections and just  anything we felt like writing about.  “Writing – someone said – is like sharing a piece of soul“; nothing was more true than these words in our correspondance.

As fate would have it,  both of my penfriends – and friends –  left on the same day. No accident nor illness, their death was scheduled. It is very difficult for me to explain how I have been feeling since then. Incredulity and shock would be some of my feelings, for sure.  Sadness, helplessness too. And little by little, a feeling of peace for I know they reached the Light that had been so far away in almost half of their life.

Before he left, R. had written this prayer that I wish to share with you  on this Sunday morning:

Holy Spirit, mysterious, ever-present yet invisible,

You are the light of our souls even when we are in darkness.

At the beginning, you brought the Son of God into this dark world, the light of life itself.

You led Jesus to his passion and your eternal spirit was there when he was on the cross.

I greatly need your help and light right now.

Help me that I do not close the eyes of my soul to you out of confusion or fear.

Help all those around me who struggle in the same darkness.

Help each of us in our present sorrow, distress and horror,

To know that you are with us, guiding, strengthening with our gifts of courage, wisdom and understanding.

Lift up our spirits even when there appears to be no human hope.

Amen