15 September 2008

Improving with age

I am a working homemaker. I am proud of that title but it took me a while to realise it. I don't know how many times I've filled in a form that required me to describe what it is I do with my time. I've called myself "nurse", "journalist", "writer", and , no doubt, various other things. I don't think I've called myself "domestic engineer", if I ever did, I regret it. Homemaker suits me well now. It is what I am. I am proud of the name and what it represents.

As I worked in my home yesterday, with another season coming to an end, I busied myself with some of the changes that seasons bring. The quilt photographed above is the one my sister, Tricia, made for our mum as she lay dying in hospital many years ago. Tricia worked on the quilt as she sat by mum's bed, and mum loved it spread out over the hospital bed, hiding hospital sheets and a sick body. The quilt was being made for mum, but when she died, Tricia asked me if I wanted to have it.

It is one of my most treasured possessions.

I took the quilt from the bed yesterday. The warmer weather is here now and I will gradually take apart our winter nest bed and make one more appropriate to warmer weather. As I looked at the quilt still on the bed, I noticed that over the years it's developed lines of mellow wrinkles along the quilting stitches. It has the look of a well used, but cared for, quilt. The straight and crisp lines of a new quilt are gone, replaced by something more gentle and comfortable. Age and use bring another dimension to this quilt, it adds to the beauty of it. Function often reveals its own glow that you see when you slow down enough for it.

Later in the week, I'll wash the quilt and hang it out to dry, then it will be stored in a cupboard until it is needed again. That might be when someone falls asleep on the sofa, when visitors stay overnight or when winter's chill again calls for a much loved and aging quilt. It seems to me that like many people, quilts improve with age.

Hanno's birthday is on Friday. He will be 68 years old.

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