About twenty-five years ago, my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Mother wanted to have a party and invite all her friends. When mom and dad married, they eloped and were married at a courthouse in South Carolina. Maybe she thought having a reception to celebrate 50 years of marriage would make up for the wedding she never had.
It was a grand anniversary party, held at a restaurant with food, decorations and music. My sister spent hours blowing up helium balloons and tying them with long streaming ribbons. Everyone came: all their friends, neighbors, and people that mom and dad knew after 50 years together. My nephews are musicians and they provided live musical entertainment. Everyone agreed; it was a marvelous occasion.
Mom and dad didn’t really want gifts at their party, they said. After all, what do you need after 50 years of marriage? But people brought gifts anyhow. When I first found out about the anniversary party, I knew what I wanted to give them, a double wedding-ring quilt. A double wedding-ring quilt was perfect for the occasion.
I also had another reason for the quilt. My great grandmother had made a double wedding-ring pattern quilt for my mother years ago. Mother loved that quilt and used it on the bed for years and years until there was nothing left of it but tatters. According to my mother, my great-grandma said the quilt was so difficult to make that she would never give away, except to my mother, who was her favorite grandchild.
My grandmother made quilts too. I remember the quilting frame in her house with a half done quilt she was working on. She even let me help a time or two. Probably she had to take out my stitching later, but she allowed me to think I was quilting. Her quilts were mostly the nine-square pattern, however, more utilitarian for everyday use.
In the olden days, quilts were made entirely by hand. Women displayed their creativity and sewing skills with the quilts they made. Some were so intricate that they are now considered works of art and are in museums. There are numerous patterns for quilts, both traditional and modern. The traditional wedding-ring pattern has overlapping circles or rings of pieced fabric, usually on a white background.
There is no way I could ever make a quilt, even a simple one, but there is a quilt shop in the mountains of East Tennessee that sells quilts made by hand by crafters that carry on the traditions of olden times. Out of the hundreds of quilts, I searched until I found the perfect quilt with circles of gold and shades of brown, the double wedding-ring pattern.
It seems that quilts often have stories, probably because the finest quilts are handmade and sometimes passed from generation to generation. Quilts are now made by machine and look as good, or better, than the old fashioned ones, but they are not the same as the hand crafted quilt.
Years passed by after the anniversary. Mother and daddy grew old and went to a nursing home. Their possessions had to be removed so the house could be sold. Among their things was the quilt — still like new. I remember seeing it a time or two folded on the foot of the bed, but apparently it had been put away and saved. Mother had a tendency to save things that were too nice or too pretty to use.
I have the quilt at home on my bed now. I am not going to save it; I am going to use it. It reminds me of my parents and of all the years they have been together. They celebrated another anniversary this year in the nursing home, still together in sickness and in health, after 75 years of marriage.
Copyright 2011 Sheila Moss