“Do I hear five dollars? How about ten? Who will give me fifteen? Do we have any quilters out there? Fifteen to the lady with the purple hat. Come on folks, this sewing machine is worth more than that. Do I hear twenty? I hear twenty. How about twenty-five? Going once! Twice! Sold for twenty dollars to the man in the flannel shirt.”
My ears perked up at the mention of the flannel shirt. The auctioneer must have been talking to Buddy, my husband. Sure enough, he came walking around the corner, with that big adorable grin I loved.
Ever since he retired, one of our favorite pastimes was going to auctions. My sister, Penny, owned a food wagon that she set up and ran during the sales. I worked for her at the window. Buddy liked to tag along. While I passed out Sloppy Joes and hot dogs, he roamed the grounds searching for deals. He was overjoyed if, at the end of the auction, they gave away a box load of stuff for a dollar or two. Sometimes he even managed to claim a free box full of pre-loved treasures. That put him in glory-land.
Many of his best deals seemed to be sewing machines. He loved to tinker on them, then when he was happy with his repair job, he’d give the machine away to one of our kids or someone else who needed one but couldn’t afford it.
I love to sew and teach, so I decided to try my hand at giving sewing lessons. I mean, we had so many machines that each person could have used one of their own. Buddy was my first pupil. I thrived on the time we were able to spend together since he retired.
Even when we fought, I’d rather be with him than with anyone else. I remember one time when I was mad at him.
“Honey,” he asked, “will you rub my back?”
“No!” I said.
“Why not?” he asked, as he gave me a surprised look.
“Because I’m mad at you!”
He smiled. “Then rub it real hard.”
We enjoyed sharing and sewing over coffee, conversation and laughs. He picked up quite fast as that piqued his interest. He decided he wanted to make a quilt for our daughter, Pamela. Every day found him surrounded by fabric, templates, and rotary cutters. He made that machine whiz as he whistled away the hours. Being a super patient man, he worked until he had a quilt that anyone would be proud to cozy up with. He made a tag to sew on a corner that read, “Love You Always. No Matter What.”
The day we delivered it, she took one look at the huge package and her eyes lit up with excitement. She tore off the wrapping. “Wow!” she said as she unfolded it and examined her quilt.
“Your dad sewed every single stitch, all by himself,” I said. “Didn’t he do a great job?”
“He sure did!” She jumped up and went to hug him, then kissed him on the cheek. “Aw, Dad,” she said. Her eyes sparkled. “It’s beautiful. I love it. Thank you.”
After a great visit we headed home and back to our machines. We had such fun together, sewing side by side. Then we decided to make a quilt for our bed.
We wandered the aisles at the fabric shop. So many choices. After a few hours, we had our cart loaded with a stack of ten different materials and headed for the checkout. Back at home, after I prewashed, ironed every yard, and cut the strips, I started piecing it together in the pattern Trip around the world. I probably had about a quarter of the top pieced together when life took over and turned our world upside down.
Buddy was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Fears-Tears-Chemo-Hospitals-and sixteen months later, sadly, Hospice. My world stopped when God called Buddy home.
All I could do was cry. No more sounds of sewing and laughter filling the rooms. Oh, I tried. I even splurged and bought a brand new, top- of-the-line, Husqvarna Viking sewing machine. The thing was so fancy I had to take classes to learn how to use it. But it didn’t fill the ache in my heart. I still couldn’t make myself sew at home without my sewing partner.
I bagged up all the sewing supplies and gave away most of the second hand machines. I packed away my new Viking out of sight in the basement.
But Buddy and I both loved the Lord who gave me the strength and comfort to go on. By believing that I’d see Buddy some day in heaven, and taking it one day at a time, I learned to live again.
I planned to finish our quilt, but my heart wasn’t in it. The years passed. Twelve of them.
One day, as I was reading in Ecclesiastes 3, a verse jumped out at me. “To everything there is a season…A time to rend, and a time to sew.” A time to sew? Although I had read that verse many times before, I felt like God spoke directly to my heart that day.
My time had come to sew again. I dragged my new Viking out of storage, along with all the fabric, and started to sew.
Day after day, I plugged away, missing the sound of Buddy’s whistling, and his great sense of humor that made the hours fly. No loving husband to share a cup of coffee with. I’d have given anything to be able to rub his back again.
I tried to be careful and get all the blocks in the right order, so it would flow together in a diamond shape. I wanted Buddy to be proud of me. But I made many mistakes and had to rip out and redo more than I could have imagined. “Whatever you sew, that shall you also rip” 🙂
Finally, I was down to the last two rows. I only needed two blocks to complete the pattern and I couldn’t rest until I finished our quilt. I tore the place apart looking for just enough fabric to finish the last two squares. Nothing… I found an extra piece of material that was close, and I used that. I’ve heard that when the Amish make a quilt they leave one block that has a mistake, because only God is perfect. They call it a “humility block.” I’m not Amish, but I had no choice. The two odd blocks set my teeth on edge.
The top was finished. I spread it out flat and stood back to admire all my handiwork. Then, to my horror, I discovered that the main center square was made with a color that didn’t match. The seam ripper and I got reacquainted. Again.
Next, I was ready for the backing. When we bought the material for our quilt, we owned a queen-sized bed. But, since that time, I had bought a king-sized and ended up short on the material for the backing. I went on a search for fabric, knowing I’d never be able to find a match after so many years had passed. But I’d settle for something to match one of the blocks on the front. To my surprise, I ran across the same material that I’d bought years earlier. Ironically, it was also the same fabric I had needed for my last two mis-matched blocks. I had to buy it. Then I went home, washed, dried and pressed the fabric. After ripping out the odd two squares, I replaced them with the new pieces.
Then I was down to putting on the borders. After watching many tutorials for instructions, I managed to miter the corners just right. Years earlier I had bought a huge package of 10 oz. polyester batting. What was I thinking? The quilt would be so heavy and Buddy wouldn’t be there to lend a hand. I’d have to start lifting weights just to be able to make the bed. Anyway, I unrolled the batting and laid it across the tables. It was all wrinkled and I didn’t have time to wait for it to flatten out. I read that you could put the batting in a dryer with a wet towel, for 10 minutes. I somehow managed to stuff the monstrous piece in the dryer, but they didn’t mention to not use heat. When I took it out it looked like a Shar Pei dog, full of wrinkles.
Then I read that you could use a hair dryer to smooth it out. I tried this new technique back and forth until my arm got tired.
Back to the fabric store in search of more suitable and lighter weight batting. Thank the Lord, cotton batting with a low loft was on sale for forty percent off. Still, the thing was so huge, I dreaded having to fight with running it through my machine to quilt. I decided to tie it all together by hand rather than a traditional quilting. About a thousand safety pins and purple ties later, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. None too soon, my poor hands couldn’t take another safety pin. Down to the last stretch. Instead of using a separate binding for the edges, I used the extra material I had purchased for the backing, and brought it around the front for the binding. Since it was only around the edges, I managed to sew the binding by machine.
I changed all the bedding and made up the bed with the new quilt. After turning on the electric blanket, and wanting to give it time to warm up, I headed in for a quick shower. I’d even bought new pajamas in Buddy’s favorite color for me. He always said I looked great in purple. Then I headed back to the bedroom to have another look at my finished beauty.
Oh, I can’t wait to climb in and cozy up under there. I wish Buddy were here to climb under the covers with me.
But first, I grabbed my camera. As I took lots of photos, I could picture Buddy looking down from heaven and saying, “Well, Angel Face, it took you long enough, but you did yourself proud. It looks beautiful!”
So, after twelve years, I finished our quilt. One last picture. I flipped back the corner of the quilt to see the special tag I had sewn that read…
“In sweet memory of my husband, Buddy. Love you Always…No Matter What!”