Apple Tree QuiltWritten by Glynis Neves
I was browsing the Family Storytelling site last week, and was struck by Stepper McCrery's Thumb Print Family Tree. I thought, "How cute! And how easy!" My brain quickly filed it away as something fun to do with the family... someday. As I stood at my mental filing cabinet something niggled my stressed-out brain. I didn't know what message was trying to get through, and it was really starting to bug me!
On a recent visit to my dad's house, I discovered what it was. A small quilt that I'd seen thousands of times over the course of my life was the focal point of the memory. I pulled it out of the closet and took a closer look: there it was! A small family tree. And the memory came flooding in!
As a young girl, I longed for a baby in the house. My parents had 3 children very close together (3 in 3 years), so I never got to experience a baby in the house. I had lots of baby cousins, but it just wasn't the same as having a real live baby in my house.
And then it happened... a baby brother! I was ecstatic! Unfortunately, this baby brother had a rough entry into the world. My mom's kidneys had shut down, and she was in the early stages of ureic poisoning. The baby had to come now, or my mom would die! The nearest hospital equipped to deal with such a delivery and premature birth was five hours away. The plane our small-town hospital used as an "air ambulance" was unavailable, but our neighbors, who owned their own small plane, agreed to fly mom to the hospital.
After many other "adventures" my brother was born 3 months prematurely. At his birth he weighed less than 3 pounds, and my dad described him to us a looking like a little monkey. My siblings and I didn't get to see our baby brother for six weeks, so you can imagine our anticipation!
For me, it was love at first sight! He was tiny and red and oh, so loud! But it wasn't too long before he had us all wrapped around his tiny fingers.
Mom and dad wanted to create something to welcome him into our family. Together, they created a quilt for his crib. The design was a family tree, with each member on a branch. The quilt was created in the "trapunto" style, which is a stuffed technique. Mom created small pillows making up the different parts of the tree, sky, and earth. The pillows were stuffed with batting and then edged. Dad quilted them onto the backing, and Mom had us all sign our names and ages on apple material which she embroidered, and Dad added them to the branches.
This quilt is a symbol to me of the strength of my family. Even though the quilt only shows our immediate family, it is easy for me to picture the branches full of extended family; each one adding strength and passing it down. Like the apple tree, our family has grown tall and strong, and it has most definitely brought forth good fruit!
Stories have always been a big part of my life. I grew up in a very theatrical family, and learned the art of storytelling early on. I'm grateful to my parents for teaching me how to express myself through story. Now that I have 5 children of my own, I find that I use storytelling every day. I love it when my children say, "Tell me the story about..." or "Tell us about a time when..." These are the times when genuine connections occur, and in this day and age, we need all the connections we can get with our children.
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