Thursday, September 14, 2017

Grandma's Kitchen, block #12: Kitchen Door

It's been three months since I started making a block each week as part of  Pat Sloan's Grandma's Kitchen. I decided early on that this was exactly what I needed to do to make the memory quilt for my Gramma Ann. In recent weeks, I've shared the theme with my mom and aunts to get their input. At this point in the project, it's more important to me that the quilt blocks reflect the things that were important to Gramma, even if they don't necessarily fit the theme.

One of the most important things to Gramma was her Catholic faith. I knew that one of the blocks would have to reflect that part of her.

I chose the turquoise blue print because it reminded me of rosary beads. The jade rosary in the picture is the souvenir I brought her back from my trip to China in 2007.

I found a quote that connects the door theme to my faith block.

Pat drew inspiration for this week's block from the kitchen doors so many of her family members have or have had. 

In her introduction to this week's block, she wrote, "I wish I had photos of the doors in my home. The shipping department over the years has taken photos of mundane things like that, which over time, are really not mundane. They are the little pieces that make up our whole life."

This idea really resonates with me, especially as I have been pouring over my photos of Gramma each week looking for different details. I feel very blessed that I had the opportunity to spend a few hours in Gramma's home in Arizona by myself. I took pictures of every room, just the way she left it before she went to the hospital. It was after that stay, that Gramma moved into assisted living. The beginning of the end. I think I knew it. And taking those photos was my way of accepting that reality.

Gramma was not  happy about the move She was proud of being able to live independently at 90, and it was hard to have that taken from her. I know a little something about having the life I love taken away. 

It's now been 13 years since sustaining my brain injury. As a result, I lost my job in publishing, my burgeoning writing career, the home I loved, and more than one friendship that couldn't adjust to the changes in me. I can say that now without bitterness, but it took many years before I accepted my new normal. It's easy to say that my faith got me through, but it did. But it isn't so simplistic. My faith changed me, but my faith changed, too. I like to think that both me and my faith became more compassionate, more whittled down to the essentials, more loving.  When so much was taken from me, I became more grateful for the things I still had, and more open to receiving what came my way. 

My ability to write professionally was taken, but my creativity bubbled up through quilting. The pre-TBI me would never have embraced quilting. Yet here I am. 

I made a memory quilt for Gramma before she died. It's one of my favorite accomplishments.

She loved that quilt. When she calle me to thank me, she said,"It's my whole life." At the end, the quilt was placed over her so that the hospice staff saw the vibrant woman she was, not the frail patient in the bed. 

I know her faith helped her prepare to say goodbye to this life and all those she loved.

When Gramma was raising her five girls, they lived close enough to the Catholic church that they could walk. I took my family to their little hometown of Blackduck, MN in 2015 when we were (relatively) close by in Bemidji for Russian camp. Of course we stopped by the church where Gramma spent so much of her time.

Look how cute my mom and aunties were when they were small and dressed in their Sunday best.

When I think of Gramma's faith, I also think of the little church in Wickenburg, Arizona where she attended until she couldn't attend anymore. I think of the big wooden Jesus statue that fascinated my young son, and keep him occupied during Mass. 

I think of how my mom and aunts have a different faith, but how Gramma brought them to mass one last time for her service. 

I think she must have been smiling to know she got them all back to church!

And I think about her ashes being reunited with those of her love.

We are just about halfway through the quilt along. We still don't have a layout yet, but I'm starting to see how it will come together. Pat suggested we hold up our blocks to see if any stick out as not fitting in. I had mentioned last week, that I wasn't happy with my attic window. I'm certain I will be changing that one, but first I need my headache to lighten up a bit. It's been a real pain lately, in more ways than one.

Previous blocks:

If you'd like to see what I'm currently working on, follow me on Instagram at de Jong Dream House.

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  1. Hi Jen,
    You have many blessings in your life and one of them certainly is your memories of your grandmother. I just love reading about them. Your quilt blocks are coming along nicely, and I can see you concern about the attic window. However, the cactus and sunset seems like a fitting view if she spent a bit of time in Arizona. Do what your heart tells you though or it will bother you. I am enjoying your journey very much. ~smile~ Roseanne

  2. What a lovely post with stories about your grandma and yourself! I love how your quilting is fitting in to all of that. The quilt you're now making the blocks for will become a lovely reminder of your grandmother and her life.

  3. Thanks for sharing your lovely block! The story to go along with it made it extra special.

  4. What a special way to remember your grandmother.

  5. This was a great post - but! at the beginning you should have told me to get a kleenex - that photo of your Grandma looking over your quilt you made her - Oh my Stars!! you got me girl! what a wonderful photo...

  6. Beginning with your lovely block, your wonderful post has so much in it. Thanks for sharing it with us. How fortunate we are to have special people in our lives that also help us to see things in new ways. Glad you also have been able to embrace the difference in your life so creatively.

  7. Aw, such a touching story Good luck on your quilt.

  8. Beautiful block !! Thank you for sharing your lovely work.

  9. My favorite part of every week has become reading these stories of your grandma. You may say that professional writing was taken away, but only a professional could write so clearly and so meaningfully. As you say, you have received many gifts in return--including an open and generous heart. Lovely blocks, lovely girl! Thank you for linking up to Wednesday Wait Loss.

  10. You are honoring Gramma in such a wonderful way - she would be so happy! It's been fun reading about her with every new block. Thank you for sharing your Gramma with us.

  11. This is such a nice tribute to your grandmother. I love that you're making a quilt dedicated to her.

  12. Thanks for sharing this heartwarming post. It was inspiring in several ways! Beautiful blocks and vary important story to tell. Thanks again!!


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