Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ties that Bind

This weekend my Monday night quilting group celebrated its 10th anniversary.  None of us realized back in 2002 what a wonderful and life-changing experience that being a part of this group would become. We were all mothers and went to the same church but otherwise, didn’t appear to have a whole lot in common. At the time, our ages ranged from mid-40s to mid-70s. We varied a lot in our personalities, our life experiences, and our personal beliefs. Our days were filled with teaching, studying, hairdressing, administrative, library, and volunteer work. Some of us were familiar with quilting; some had hardly ever touched a sewing machine. Feeling we needed an identity, we called ourselves “The Phat Quarters” and began meeting weekly at each other’s homes, the hostess providing a dessert, tea, and coffee. We came armed with our quilting and/or stitching projects and our stories from the previous week to share with each other.
As the years passed, the group evolved. Usually we each worked on individual projects but occasionally we committed to making a quilt together, to be auctioned off at a local relief sale. Sometimes, between projects or exhausted from the day’s events, we arrived empty-handed, simply craving the fellowship of the sisterhood we had become. Our group was a place where we could just be.

That first year we started what would become an annual tradition of going away for a weekend together and took a ferry to a cottage on one of BC’s Gulf Islands.  In the years following, we'd rent a vacation home at a nearby lake. We’d bring food enough for an army and lots of wine and videos, though usually it took us most of the weekend to figure out the VCR or DVD player.  Like our Monday nights, those weekends were mostly about being together. We’d stitch, or go for walks, or read, or do puzzles. If the sun was shining, we’d sit out on the deck and relax. If there was a quilt shop nearby, we’d go shopping.
Over the years, our friendships deepened. We talked about everything—parenting our adult children, questions of faith, our work. We shared the ups and downs of our lives. We cried with each other during times of sadness—loss of a loved one, illness in our families, our children’s struggles—and celebrated our joys—weddings, the birth of a grandchild, beginning a new job, retirement.
And then, a few years ago Laura told us she’d been diagnosed with cancer. In her typical, no-nonsense fashion, she faced the awful disease head on. Often she told us how much she loved her quilting group. As we planned our 2011 retreat, we realized that she might be too sick to come with us if we waited too long. We couldn’t do much for her by that time, but we gave her what we could--we reserved our house by the lake for a weekend in February instead of May or June as we usually did, so we could all get away together one last time. Laura showed us memory albums she was making for her children and she made a delicious curry for our Friday supper, which she barely touched, finding it too difficult to swallow. A short time later one of our Monday nights was spent beside her bed in hospice. She asked if I’d be willing to bind the last quilt she’d been working on and I told her I’d be honoured.  At her funeral, the quilts she’d made during our time together were lovingly displayed alongside other mementos of her amazing life.

We are all now 10 years older from when we first formed our group. Our memories are not as reliable as they were back then but we still have many that we talk and laugh about and we continue to make more whenever we're together. Laura may not have been with us in physical form this year, but she was very much a part of our weekend and she will always be a part of our group.
Thank you Laura, and my dear quilting friends for being such a wonderful part of my life.


  1. How wonderful to have a group like yours and be so close in all ways.


  2. So sorry for your loss, but happy that you have such treasured memories and time together.