Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Quilts for all Occassions

I always look forward to the 4th of July.

Every year we spend it at the Nephi Carnival. We have done this for many years. The biggest things I look forward to are of course, the crafts and home baked items at the Country Store, but even more than that is the quilt auction.

For an entire year the Relief Society women though out the Mona and Nephi Wards work at making quilts of all shapes and sizes to auction off at this carnival. The money raised from the auction then goes to support a local fund raiser so the women themselves do not get the return of the funds. The women simply do this for the love of quilting and for the love of serving others.

The quilts are a sight to behold. Surely they are some of the most beautiful quilts I have ever seen. I admire the women who do such incredible work. Some day (and I tell myself this every single year, I plan to be the proud owner of one of those gorgeous quilts!)

As I think of those lovely women who work endlessly year after year, I think of an incredible quilt at my parents home that was made with those loving hands.

The women in my mother’s ward got together and made a quilt for her when she was so ill with cancer. They each put their name on a heart that was then sewn onto the quilt in a border around the edges of the quilt. When that precious gift was presented to my mother, it was given with a book of letters from each of the woman who had written their names on those hearts. Quilts may bring comfort to us physically, but they have a way of uplifting us to great heights spiritually as well. I know that quilt did for my mother. She cherished that quilt and those letters to her dying day.

My mother and my grandmother both crocheted afghans that I absolutely cherish because of the loving hands that stitched them. I don’t have that gift. Now that both of these women have passed, those blankets are very sentimental to me. I have had them for years.

I had an aunt that taught me how to tie a quilt as a young teenager and I still have it. I love the time I spent with my aunt Jacklin learning to tie my very first quilt. Every time I see that quilt I think of her, She too has gone and miss her.

When my son and his wife were married, I was thrilled when they received so many quilts for wedding gifts. (I would have loved to take a few of them home with me!) I realize the love that went into making those quilts for them. Now, as we travel to see them, those are the quilts they share with us on our visits. Seeing them brings back such wonderful memories of their wedding day. I love those memories and I love the memories we are making as a family each time we get together.

Last summer we went to Martin’s Cove and learned of a touching story that had quite an impact on me.

There was a women traveling to Salt lake who had made it to Martin’s Cove and lost her husband during the freezing cold night. She couldn’t bear the thought of the ravaging wolves digging up her husband from the shallow grave so she begged the men to wrap him in her quilt and tie him high in the trees where the wolves couldn’t get to him. As they left the following morning, she turned back just before they round the bend and looked back. The last thing she saw was her husband up in the tree in her best quilt. (I believe some of the men were to go back later and bury him when the ground would be thawed enough for them to dig into.) I admire the faith and the strength of our early pioneers I love them for their examples of courage. I can’t think of this story without tears in my eyes and a stab at my heart.

Now, as my father-in-law is retired, he and my mother-in-law have started doing such a wonderful thing. This year as each grandchild has a birthday, he/she receives a homemade quilt made especially for them by their grandparents. My son Bryan says it’s the most comfortable (and the coolest) quilt he has ever had. I do believe he’s right! So much time and effort has gone into that gift. It was truly a gift from the heart and one that was very much appreciated. I know how meaningful it was to Bryan’s parents for him to receive such a gift. We know the effort that went into it. And we love them for taking the time.

As my son has had brain surgeries at Primary Children’s Medical Center, he has been given blankets, and we have had quilts brought for our use as we have had numerous stays at the hospital with our son. We have been grateful for not only the warmth they brought but the comfort they provided when we needed something to hold onto when we felt fear and heartache.

Now as I try to tie all these different thought together…

Last Saturday our Ward did a day of service. It was in dedication to the many ward members we have had experience with different types of cancer. We asked them what we could do to help be of service. From their suggestions, we did hygiene kits, yard work, scarves, treats for family members in waiting rooms, rice warming bags, activity kits for PCMC, and we made blankets.

I was working with the women who made blankets to send to the Huntsman Cancer Institute and to PCMC. I couldn’t help but think how much my own family, especially myself has benefited from those. I hope the blankets we made will be of comfort to those hearts and hands that they will reach.

To end this post I found a great poem about quilts written by: Terrie Johnson

“The Tattered Quilt”

A tattered quilt hangs by my bed
Upon an antique stand
My mind drifts back to years before
As the quilt falls on my hand.
Stitched with care and bound with love
A work of art indeed
This dear old quilt has been my friend
No matter what the need.

I still recall with memory sweet
How this quilt came to me
It was upon a Christmas morn
It lay wrapped beneath the tree.
As I opened up this precious gift
My eyes filled with tears
I realized this gift contained
The work of many years.

One day as we sat snug within
My quilt and watched it rain
I asked my gramma, “Why for me?”
And thus she did explain,
“I wanted you to have this quilt
For when you’re feeling down
I wanted you to have this quilt
When you move from town to town.”

“So if you’re feeling lonely
Or if you’re feeling sad
Just wrap yourself inside this quilt
And things won’t seem so bad.
No matter where you go in life,
No matter what you feel,
This quilt will be here for you
It’s something that is real.”

Oft times I’ve sat with my dear quilt
And thought of words she said
I realize that when she spoke
She spoke of years ahead.
For now that older I have grown
I have just come to see
My gramma is my quilt indeed
She’s always there for me.

As for myself, I wish I could thank the many people who made the quilts throughout my life that lifted my heart and comforted me with not only warmth but somehow brought me solace when I needed it the most.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Memorial Day Observed

In my younger years, we always looked forward to Memorial Day, but shamefully I admit, it wasn’t for the noble reasons it should have been.

It was simply because this was the first holiday of the great season of summer. We celebrated it by going camping! Well-- that was after we made a stop by the cemeteries to place flowers on the graves of our dearly departed. To me, it was a minor inconvenience, although I thought the flowers were always very pretty and the flags looked pretty cool.

Okay, I admit I had some very immature and very selfish thoughts back then, and yes, my parents tried earnestly to teach me what Memorial Day really was about. I just didn’t understand or truly appreciate it. I wasn’t listening. My mind was on sleeping out under the stars out at the lake. Wahoo!, I mean, it was finally summer!

I was quite young when my Grandpa Lawrence passed away, although I remember how great it was to always get a silver dollar every time he came to visit. Back then a silver dollar could buy all kinds of things at the candy counter.

I wasn’t a whole lot older when my Grandma Lawrence passed away and though I have a few fond memories of her, what I wouldn’t give to have a few more.

My Grandpa Christensen is buried in Denmark and my Grandma Christensen is still living. She turned 101 this past April. How wonderful is that? Can you imagine the things she has experienced in her lifetime?

We usually decorated my Grandpa and Grandma Lawrence’s graves. Grandpa’s always had a flag from serving in WWI. I always thought that was really something special to see by his headstone. I do remember even from a very young age, how proud I was of him for “earning the right to have a flag.”

Since my own mother has passed away, we have started a new tradition in our family. Each Memorial Day weekend, we go to my Dad’s house to spend the night so that early in the morning on Memorial Day, we can get up and go to the little country cemetery where my mom is to see the sunrise ceremony put on by the American Legion for the fallen soldiers.

The flag is raised at half- staff, there is a 21 gun salute, and off in the distance, a bugler plays “Taps” as the sun rises over the mountains. Words cannot describe the feeling that comes over you during the ceremony. It’s beautiful, it’s respectful, it brings a lump to your throat and tears to your eyes.

Every person who has served their country has a white cross that holds the United States flag near their headstone, placed by a volunteer from the American Legion. A large board with two flags is placed in the cemetery with all the soldiers names listed and where they served. This stands near the flag pole so that everyone can see it during the sunrise ceremony.

Recently my dad has talked much of wanting a veteran’s burial with the flag over his casket when he passes. He loves this country and gets somewhat emotional when he speaks of his time in the service and when he listens to the haunting melody of “Taps." I saw it again at that early sunrise service this past Memorial Day.

My son asked his grandpa what Memorial Day stood for. We all got in on the discussion sharing the little bit that we knew, and then I decided to look it up. Did you know that…

Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day. It was observed back in 1865 by freedmen (freed enslaved southern blacks) in Charleston, South Carolina in 1865, at the Washington Race Course, to remember the fallen Union soldiers of the Civil War. The recognition of the fallen victims was then enacted under the name Memorial Day by an organization of Union veterans to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War. Overtime, it was extended after World War I to honor all Americans who have died in all wars. Now known as Memorial Day, it is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Many people observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries and memorials. A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3 p.m. local time. Another tradition is to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff from dawn until noon local time. Volunteers often place American flags on each grave site at National Cemeteries.(Taken from WIKIPEDIA)

As a mother, I hope I can somehow let my children keep the thrill of the start of summer in their heart, but somehow instill the importance of honoring Memorial Day.

I think my son is already years ahead of me than I was at his age years by even wanting to know and understand the purpose of such an important day suchas Memorial Day. I only hope I can help him appreciate the purpose of it.