With the cooler weather coming in at nights, I have finally shut all the windows. All was well for a few nights and then I had to pull out some extra covers. I got an old quilt out of the closet. It is entirely red and white and pieced from triangles that take the shape of interlocking squares unless you kind of squeeze your eyes and then you see rows of diamonds strutting across the background with an even deeper design quilted in on top of the red triangles. The red is called turkey red – not a bright cherry red or an orangey-red – but the kind of red one would see in the comb of an old rooster. A sturdy kind of red. I floated the quilt over the bed and a flood of memories hit me.
I was a very young bride when I decided to make that quilt for our bed. I knew how to sew but hadn’t quilted much. Any, really. I decided that I could design and make a quilt, based on some books that I had read. It took several months to design and cut out the triangles, another few weeks to get the top all sewn together and then eight long years to hand quilt it. I stretched my quilt out in a large hoop so I could take it places with us. The unfinished quilt went on short trips and very long trips. There were weeks it sat in the corner patiently waiting for me to return. It moved with us from our college housing to our first house. It warmed my legs over the years as I worked on it. The beautiful quilt covered our bed for about twenty-five years.
Our babies took naps on it, we made tents over the table with it, and it even hung on the walls a few times. As I floated it over the bed last week I noticed that there were some tears (small rips) along seam lines and that the binding was ragged in a few places. There were many times that the quilt soaked up the tears of a crying jag and comforted the sobbing of a young child that is “just not tired.” Now it is soft and faded in a few places as well as stained in a few others. As I slept under the old quilt again, I thought about how much of our life is like an old, soft quilt.
We have a long marriage, but there have been times that we have had some tears (small rips) along the seam lines of our life together. To be honest, we have a few stains and more than enough tears, as well. More than a few kids have snuggled under that quilt with us as we made plans, soothed hurt feelings, and dreamed our dreams. We have learned that persistence in the making of a family is just as arduous as that of completing a quilt.
Work is what made that turkey-red quilt. Diligent work. The willingness to continue to work on it until it was finished. Work through sore, poked, fingers and tired, scratchy eyes. There were times I worked and then ripped out sections that did not match up correctly. Work is also what makes a long marriage. Diligent work. Sometimes we are piecing things together and sometimes we are putting on more binding. Often we would like to rip out sections or angry words that just don’t match up with our goals. Other times we are ironing out the wrinkles or letting situations sit in a corner until we are ready to work once again. Long marriage, it seems, is a piece by piece symphony filled with a plethora of daily stitches that all work together to create the whole. To some, a long marriage might look like plain red squares that so easily merge at the corners, and to others perhaps, the marriage looks like a long line of diamonds dancing on a white background.
To me, a long marriage is the old red quilt that floats over the bed of life and offers comfort in those cold, dreary times when life is just too complex.
No matter your life situation, there are those who are just too precious to toss to the side – whether spouse or friend or child. Mend your tears and begin stitching that quilt again. Life is too short to be caught out in the cold.