Beth Markel

What to do when a quilter passes on?

Posted on January 15, 2016 by Beth Markel

I’ve put off blogging for a little more than a month.  Not because of Christmas and the holidays, but because my darling Mother-in-Law, Dee Markel passed away on December 8, 2015.  She was a quilter.  She wasn’t just a quilter or my darling MIL, but also my friend, and that friendship is what I’ll miss the most.

 She was a great lady.  Kind.  Generous.  Loyal.  Loving.  Funny.

 Drew Jess and Grandma Dee

It took us more than a decade to really understand each other, as I was probably a LOT more Bohemian than any proper daughter-in-law she expected to have.  We had to really work at becoming friends, but when we finally did, it was a friendship worth having.  We became friends over the cutting table and sewing machine.

What drew us together was likely what draws most friendships together – we both loved our spouses dearly…we treasured our children like they were our most precious gifts, and for her, the grand-children really were grand.  We both like to be busy.  We both love to cook…everything from picking concord grapes together, to making jam, to exchanging recipes we thought the other might like.  The glue for this friendship was mutual respect.  We certainly did not always see eye-to-eye, but we certainly respected each other’s opinion – whether it was about family matters, local politics, or fabrics in our latest projects.  We had a lot of fun picking fabrics out, auditioning fabrics for different projects, having lunch somewhere in town, then carrying our treasures home.

What are you working on now?”  Is often how our conversations began.

My fondest memories of Mom will always be the days we spent quilting in her basement.  If you having sewing girlfriends (or boyfriends), or have been to a retreat or class, you know some of the best therapy is talking to your friends with the quiet hum of the sewing machines filing the air.  She talked.  I talked.  She listened.  I listened.  She would laugh or weep about things.  I would laugh or weep about things.  We always had afternoon tea.

 She was admitted to the hospital before Thanksgiving, but never returned home.

 There is a special project she’s been working on for one of the grandsons who is currently in Australia.  There’s also a pastel 9-patch which is literally at her sewing machine waiting for be pieced.

Dee's sewing machine 2 

They are like stories half-written, where the author gets up for a cup of tea, then simply never returns.


Dee's Ironing board


Now the rub.  Because she was 89, her eyesight was not what it had been, and there are small pleats sewn into some of the seams of the unfinished quilts.  Do I un-sew and fix them, OR, are they simply a tribute to where she was in her life?

 I really will miss my sweet, quilting, girlfriend. 






Jill Hoddick on January 15, 2016

Leave the "jits" as I call them - all to remember her loving hand.

Suzanne on January 16, 2016

I'm so sorry for your loss. I would leave them in, as Jill said. Each time you see them, you will remember the quilter who made them. The quilts themselves will be memories, but the pleats? You will hear her voice saying, "Will you look at that? How did that get there?" and it might add more smiles to the memories.

Kim Wolf on January 20, 2016

You are amazing, my dear, precious friend. And... I would keep the "mistakes." Call it character. Love you.

Skipper on January 21, 2016

My heart is with you. I'm so glad you were such good friends. The "mistakes" are often what make life (and quilts) all the more unique and add a richness to the memories. Love to you and yours.

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