Journey to Ukazoo
Slide 35– Alna’s Quilt
Leaving Maine, I had called ahead to reserve a room at a recommended quaint Bed & Breakfast, just inside Connecticut, hosted by Andy and Jen Trapunto.
Checking in, an air of confusion swirled around the inn with Andy and Jen also tending to an onslaught of several unannounced groups of Andy’s relatives inquiring about accommodations for the week. The root of this commotion was Andy’s grandmother, Alna, who resided in an attached addition to the inn, and her upcoming 100th birthday festivities.
Earlier attempts, by Andy and Jen, to host a large family gathering to celebrate her birthday failed logistically by previous commitments and distance, so Andy arranged a small end-of-week gathering, for Alna’s birthday, with just his and Jen’s parents.
This state of confusion was initiated when a growing number of brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins, etc. decided on a spur of the moment that Alna’s birthday was too big a deal to brush aside, but forgot to make Andy aware of their change of plans. With no advanced notice, there weren’t enough rooms available, and now Andy feverishly worked the phones finding extra rooms at nearby inns.
Over the next two days, all the family members gathered at Andy and Jen’s for several meetings to work out a new game plan for the party and with numerous introductions and “what do you think” discussions, I found myself drawn into their fold. The relatives, a composite of different ages, professions, and life styles, brought with them the friendships, the laughing, the reminiscing, as well as the bickering, and disagreements typical of all families. I felt at home.
With accommodations and coordination of the party worked through, the months-ago-idea of everyone chipping in to purchase just one “from the family” gift seemed a lost cause. With over 30 family members present, trying to decide on “one” gift, grew into an evening of escalating, sometimes tense, fruitless suggestions.
Off to the side, near where I sat, Cindy Lou, a 10 year old great-grand daughter, quietly raised her hand. Caught off guard by the cuteness of this polite gesture, everyone fell silent and turned her way.
Bringing to light that the blanket Alna uses for her frequent naps, around the inn, is old and tattered, her suggestion was simple, “We could make her a new one”. Everyone maintained their silence, pondering whether this was just outright silly or a brilliant idea. It was Andy who broke the silence. He sided with brilliance.
Jen quickly elaborated, that plenty of scrap material was on hand for a wonderful free-form patch-work quilt. Batting and whole-cloth’s for top and back are still stored in the attic from bygone quilting bee’s. Several members of the family have done quite a bit of sewing over the years and this would be an excellent opportunity for the younger members of the family to learn the art of quilting appliqué. We can all be involved, even if just contributing a stitch or two, you can still help by measuring, cutting, preparing meals, and general errands during the quilt’s construction.
One by one, everyone embraced the idea.
Over the next four days, while it was impossible to keep the making of the quilt a secret from Alna, the reason for the quilt certainly was. Even Alna’s few offers, between naps, to help sew on a few designs, added to the fullness of the project. It was completed just hours before the party.
After the cake and ice cream, it was only fitting that Cindy Lou carry the quilt over to Alna.
I took this picture after Alna sat in her favorite cushioned chair and they gently covered her with her new quilt.
Just before she drifted into her nap, she looked up, with tearful eyes, and to everyone gathered around, she said. “Thank you, I couldn’t have imagined a more wonderful gift, and every time I run my fingers over this quilt, I will feel this week of togetherness and the love of everyone in this family”.
She closed her eyes for a second then added “Oh, by the way, would someone stop in the room later and give me a nudge, I don’t want to miss my before-bedtime nip of Sherry”.
All images and text are copyright Craig L Haupt
Postings of “Journey to Ukazoo” Slides are every Monday Evening.
New arrivals to the “Journey” please see Slide One for a brief synopsis.
Opening Art Reception, Saturday, March 15th, 2014, 5:00 to 8:00 P.M., at Ukazoo Book Store, Towson, MD 21204