Stitching a Memory Quilt Made of People

images-1Though my mom is a quilting bee extraordinaire, I can’t sew a stitch to save my life. Not even a button. But I do have a knack for knitting folks together. The Internet made it easier to weave the people in my past and present into a wonderful patchwork.

I didn’t blog about my birthday so people would shower me with wishes; I certainly didn’t post it twice on Facebook to get more likes. That mistake was due to my technological ineptitude. But a neat thing happened anyway, especially after I posted birthday wishes to my baby sister born the day after me. Comments from literally around the world gave me a heartwarming lift.

Growing up with 3 siblings 5 years apart, we shared not only clothes and closet space, but also friends. School classmates multiplied by 4 gave me oodles of childhood chums. Sterling logoWithout any explanation, they understood what it was like to live for Friday Night Lights in Golden Warrior Territory. They grew up jerking burgers, selling pizzas and mowing lawns for pocket money with the taste of corn on the cob, Maid Rites and RC Cola imprinted in their minds forever. Each completed a piece of the mosaic of my roots growing up in Illinois.

Circles existed long before the advent of Google+. They were called family, school, church, community, and team. My college family, basketball buddies, summer friends – cabin dwellers sharing lake lore – form other squares.

Friendships from parts of the globe where I have spent time, as well as my Norwegian family up by the North Pole, create other patches. My international community of colleagues in Switzerland from Canada, France, England, Germany, Ireland, Scotland, Holland, and Trinidad add other block.

Teams representing different ages and stages of my life add a colorful motif of mascots: Sterling Golden Warriors, ISU Redbirds, UWSP purple Pointers, Paris blue Rebels, Geneva green Hawks.

My cyber friends, the writing buddies like Lynne in California, Debbie in Central Illinois, Kathy in New York, Clara in Chicago, Helene in New Jersey, Sharon and Anne on the Midlife Boulevard bringing me laughter and inspiration through their words, add their own Hoops quiltunique pattern.

Friends my folks age to my own former students, to the pals of now my grown children form other pieces of my multicultural, cross-generational comforter.

During February, I wallowed in misery with the duvet pulled up to my nose, lamenting my misfortune bedridden with illness, but only weeks later I was reminded how blessed I am.

Just like the piecework stitched lovingly by my mom, I wrapped up in my memory quilt of people to ward away cold, fend off sickness, and shield my soul from heartache.

I am the thread binding this colorful kaleidoscope of images-3humanity.

And so are you. And that is a beautiful thing.

Next time you are ill or down in the dumps, crawl under the covers and have a good cry, then draw that cozy comforter up to your chinny, chin, chin and image being wrapped in a patchwork of people making up your own life quilt.

Posted in family, inspiration, relationships, social view.


  1. You are blessed to be surrounded by so many people who love and care about you. You are an amazing woman and I am proud to know you. I hope you are feeling much better and thanks for a wonderful post. Great about the quilt and your mom. That is wonderful.

    • Thanks for being part of the inspiration in my quilt, Cathy. In fact, I wanted to mention you in the post too, but wasn’t sure which neck of the woods you blog from.

  2. You are blessed to be a blessing, Pat. And yes, you can stitch! Thanks for the inclusion in your people patchwork. Glad you’re feeling better.

  3. Awww, Pat, you described it so perfectly! I feel exactly the same way, with my immediate family, my Swiss family, my friends in many nations around the world, my husband’s network of people, my co-workers, extended family, neighbors, friends of the parents, and also friends of the grown kids. In-laws, bosses, merchants…. Each of us has caused to be woven together a quilt of many colors, prints, fabrics and textures – and yes, some are squares (!) -lol. I had never paused to see it that way, but you are so right – and now I have a visual image to describe the warm feeling all of these connections gives me. Thank you for the perspective.

    • Thanks Nell. Would love to hear more about your Swiss family. Where are they located? Of course, there are moments when we feel alone and isolated with our own problems, but when we think about it all we need to do is reach and let someone know when we need help and help will come from so many different avenues. Hugs are best in hard times, but words shared through calls, cards and email also help. Staying connected is the key.

  4. Pat, this is soooo true!! Isn’t it wonderful how, if we let ourselves, we form “circles” throughout our lives? People from various work situations, school, different organizations we’ve been a part of, parents of kids our kids were friends with, church — all make a beautiful patchwork and contribute to aspects of our personality. We’d all be the poorer, I’m afraid, without such connections. I’m glad you’ve wrapped up your Pity Party, dear friend, and are back on the Road to Victory. I always think fondly of you — especially at this time of year, when March Madness is kicking into high gear!!

    • It is fascinating to think about our circles and how they overlap and how one person connects you to another. I am forever grateful to Kathy for connecting us through our writing circle. Oh yeah, March, one of the times I miss America most (ha ha), but my family keeps me posted on my favorite teams and of course I check scores on line, but still I would rather be stateside parked in front of big screen TV cheering my head off with like minded fans going crazy during March Madness

    • Yes, Haralee, I think I have grown into my name Coach. Even students, even those not playing ball, call me Coach. Glad you are part of my hood via the Blvd.

  5. “I am the thread binding this colorful kaleidoscope of humanity. And so are you.” Love that so much. Although we don’t know one another I enjoyed your post, how wonderful epiphanies such as yours can be. Glad I saw your post in the MLB thread this morning. Happy Birthday!

  6. Hi Pat, lovely to read about your quilt analogy… I think you are a social weaver as well as a basketball court weaver 😉 …there are just many different kinds of weavers and seamstresses in the world; some that use real thread and others that use imaginary… My mum said to me long ago when I was bored watching my kids playing for hours that I needed to keep my hands busy – shell some peas, stitch on buttons, knit, paint… Women have used their hands in this way for generations, often minding kids simultaneously. My yoga teacher told me that these types of hand crafts are a form of meditation. Your article reminded me of such things… P.S. I’m so happy that I’m a part of your quirky quilt 🙂 hugs, Rach xxx

    • Your mom was right Rach. And even though I can’t cook or knit or sew, I have always used my hands to write down feelings and impressions. In fact when I was in school, I would daydream unless I was actually writing down notes. And if you remember I still carry a little notebook around in my pocket. You, too, must feel the calming meditation when writing. Thanks for being a special part of my “quirky quilt!”

  7. i think you have summed up the Internet and the connections it allows or forms in a wonderful few words. I am not sure whether we have a total connection but your folks and your grandparents were so important to a little boy some 55 years ago that I feel compelled to praise and honor your writing and your insight from half way around the ever shrinking world. cheers from somebody once known as haggis baggus!!!

    • Oh yes, we are connected Jim and even if we never met in adulthood, I feel like I know you from hearing the haggis baggus camp lore! ha
      How did you get that nickname? I was also friends with your lil brother in high school. Thanks so much for your kind and encouraging words and reaching out across the miles. I am going to call my folks today to tell them I heard from you. They will be delighted!

  8. I am thrilled to be part of your network, Pat. It has been a pleasure getting to know you and I truly hope we can meet in real life someday. If and when we do, it will feel like a reunion, not a first time.

    • Oh absolutely. One of things I am looking forward to most one day when I no longer teaching is having more time to meet up with friends near and far.

  9. Pat —I so enjoy reading your blog — maybe because I have known your family for so long!!! Always so fun to see the pictures you post! Hope you are getting better — no fun to be ill!!! love trish

    • Thanks Trish. I really appreciate your support and kind words. Yes, I am feeling stronger everyday of course it helps to be on Easter break. ha
      Lots of love and hugs right back at you!

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