Seth Godin's business blog post, "I Quilt", reminds me of my grandmother, Cora Bess Campbell, and the patchwork quilts she made for all her grandchildren.
The youngest of twelve, born and raised on an Arkansas farm, Cora Bess Yingst (age 16) married LeRoy Campbell (age 19) shortly before they hopped a train to California. Roaming like gypsies, picking crops with migrant workers up and down the West Coast, they fished, camped and made life-long friends along the way.
They settled in Rialto, California. Nightly, he used Lava soap and a brush to scrub the auto-shop grease from off his hands and under his fingernails. Even before he'd spent a chunk of his weekly pay at the bar, it was hardly enough to feed, cloth and house a family of five. Cora Bess chose to rise to the creative challenge of turning scraps into things of beauty, form and function.
Grandma Bess, a meticulous seamstress, made my large, colorful quilt out of little scraps of material left over from the perfectly-fashioned cotton dresses she'd made for me from flour sacks. I'd sit on the floor next to her, cutting fascinating buttons from old clothes I'd never seen, and add them to the glass jar of her enormous collection. I'd sort and stack various sizes of empty wood thread spools while her fingers expertly guided the flowered fabric under the bobbing needle of her foot-powered shiny, black Singer sewing machine. I was enthralled by her talents. I can still conjure up the aroma of pinto beans, cornbread and greens cooking while she taught me how to take remnants of seemingly worthless material, and come up with a creative, beautiful and functional design.
Seth's, "I Quilt", helped me view circumstances and/or relationships like precious scraps of unique materials with the potential of special uses and re-uses. Cora Bess's gift to me is now a "Quilted Icon" - symbolic of my perpetual option to create beauty with whatever, as little or as much, is at hand. Like scraps of varying weights, textures, weaves and sources of materials are sometimes difficult to stitch together; so, too, are some jobs, people, and circumstances. I'm grateful for the compatible remnants with which I've been able to design, handle and stitch a life together. I want to make the most of what I've been given - and I'm remembering how to do that by visualizing my grandmother creating my very own "Quilted Icon".
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