My friend Lorna is a quilter. A gifted quilter. And because the cover of Gabriel's Daughters, my upcoming novel, will have something to do with a patchwork quilt, I kidnapped five of her creations to take to a recent writers convention where my publisher would be, in order for him to take photographs. He's designing the cover, so I wanted him to have some great examples to work with.
I would never have told her at the time, but I remember reading a story about a woman who pieced and quilted a masterpiece for her mother-in-law and tucked it into a black trash bag for safekeeping when it was done. It was safe, that is, until garbage day, oh, my, when her clueless husband heaved it into the trash can, and its absence wasn't discovered until a few days after pickup. The story went on to tell how her friends rallied and helped her assemble and make another quilt, and though it wasn't the work of art she had lost, the love of her friends that went into the new quilt was something she would always treasure. No, I'll save THAT story for another day. For me, the black trash bags were chilly reminders of what could happen and I wasn't about to bring that up.
I was gone several days, and while I was gone, I fretted about those treasures in my trunk. I parked my car in the first row of the main floor of the parking terrace, directly under a flood light, as close to the hotel as I could park. Of course, the car was locked. The only time the quilts left my trunk was on the afternoon I met with my publisher and publicist and they were actually photographed. One by one, I spread them on the king-sized bed in my hotel room, in layers. And one by one, as they were photographed, I took each quilt off the stack, rolled it in the white sheet, and bagged it. When the last photo was taken, I carried them all back to the car and locked the trunk.
I was soooooooooo relieved to return the quilts to Lorna when I got home, and I imagine she was relieved to see them again, though she was very gracious about the whole thing. If something had happened to them, though, I would have bought a ticket to South America and just disappeared.
Here are some of my pictures of her quilts. They don't do them justice, but you can see why, even though I don't quilt, I have a great love for them. So do the characters in my books. There is a scene where women sit around a quilt, each working on her spot, and have a conversation. There's a description of a girl's hope chest and all the quilts she might have in it. A Bachelor's Delight quilt figures prominently in a couple of scenes. I saw my first Bachelor's Delight quilt when I was on a trip to Kentucky with Lorna. We'd gone for a theater festival, but just happened to pass a quilt shop.
I haven't found a great example of a Bachelor's Delight quilt in a photo, but one lives in my mind, and in my book.
I did take Lorna to lunch to thank her for the loan of her work. It was the least I could do.
Tonight Lorna was honored by Utah State University's Center for Women and Gender for a lifetime achievement award, and it was most deserved. She was commended for her service to the community and other women throughout her life. A short list of causes and organizations she has supported: Children's Theater Board, CAPSA (Citizens Against Physical and Sexual Abuse), The American Red Cross and the American Cancer Society (she's a cancer survivor herself).
I happen to know of many kindnesses she's performed lovingly for friends and neighbors throughout the years. They won't show up on a plaque, but they're etched in our hearts. She mentioned in her acceptance speech that she feels she's been nurtured by the community, and I thought, no, she's nurtured half the community, including me.