Blog Archives

Quilt Guilt

by Claire Partin on Monday, September 27, 2010 from facebook

I have a confession to make. I beat my mom.  I have been doing it for years.  I do feel a little guilty about it, but figure it’s okay because she used to beat me.  Now before you go calling the authorities I should clarify.  I beat my mom at scrabble, dominoes, and now online with words with friends.   She was the master but now she is getting older and having sight issues and let’s face it meanwhile I have gotten better knowing the weird quirky words like “io” and “qat.”  I learned them from her. These are words my mom spent years learning playing the sunday crossword puzzle.  She does it in INK!  Such a smart cookie.  But now the tables are turning and she rarely beats me anymore.

When I pathetically bragged about this on facebook my sister Melissa made me promise not to beat my mom on her birthday. Thankfully I had already beat her the day before and we had started another game.

I went to take my mom for a belated birthday lunch yesterday and we played dominoes and yes, I won.  I told her,  “I don’t like beating you, I just really like winning.”  I think she still battles her motherly instinct to let her child win.  But she now resists her impulse to help me and has become a little more of a ruthless strategist.  And its fun to play with her.  A great way to be together without getting into any sort of deep conversation.  If we want a real conversation we need to stop playing and go sit on the couch, which we will occasionally do, maybe twice a year.  It works for us.  It’s the Partin Way.

At the beginning of the year I was taking a meditation class and learning how to ask for what I really want, and I wanted a red and purple quilt, a bigger version of one my mom had made and was giving to a friend.  The back story on this is this particular friend also got some chairs I really wanted from my childhood and also got some of my mom’s best quilts.  I was never very good at asking my mom for things, and when i would i wouldn’t get them.  So asking for this quilt was kind of a big deal for me.  My mom said the fabrics were no longer available and gave me a guilt trip that i did in fact have some of her best quilts.  My feeling is my sister with the kid (Melissa) is the one always getting a new quilt from my mom.  So I asked for what I wanted.

Melissa (maybe from her own guilt?) offered to help my mom find the fabrics online after I told her the story.  She validated me saying I should get that.  The meditation classes were working!  I was learning to express my desires not only to my mom but to my sister and was being heard!  My mom made the quilt!

BUT she loved it so much she wanted to keep it for herself.  Damn!  And not only that she told me this on MY birthday and then went on to say I need to lose weight because it shows up in my face!  Jeez!  Can’t I ever get what I want?  And why can’t I be complimented at least on my birthday!? This was turning into a guilt quilt and I didn’t like it, not one bit.

I think I may have complained, yet again, to another sister and here is the solution to all this.  My mom made another version of the quilt for herself.  But I still don’t have it because she needs it for an example.  She’s dangling it front of me like  a carrot!  No, it’s sweet really.  I’m not sure what the real lesson is here.  Maybe I will know once I actually have that quilt in my hot little hands.  It really is beautiful!

My mother, though losing her sight from macular degeneration, is like Monet in his later years doing her best work ever, and it all comes from love.  I know she really loves making them.  She loves fabric and color and design and working with her hands. She also expressed to me she loves that people have her quilts to wrap around themselves.   It is like she is hugging each and everyone of us when we use them. She has also made many baby quilts and loves that she is part of their young lives.  Lucky kids!  Lucky us!

Relationships are like quilts, with many fabrics and patterns and textures.  If you’re lucky they turn out beautifully designed like my mom’s quilts.  I love my mom and feel like our relationship is still developing, perhaps waiting for the border or backing, but a creation in progress like a quilt or painting.  I still won’t let her win at scrabble, but she will always be the master designer and artist.  I can only wish to be like her and get better and better at what I choose to create.

And if I am lucky enough someday when I am 79 some younger lady will be beating me at scrabble or dominoes, and not feeling guilty about it.