After my grandfather passed in September, my family found some of his typed letters amongst his belongings. I grew up knowing that Pops was a writer. Not a writer of handwritten notes to grandchildren at college or of love letters to his beloved. Pops was a sit-down-at-his-typewriter kind of guy where, over the course of days, he would draft a letter to the person or entity he felt committed him an injustice.
Like when Pops mailed his bowling ball to Florida. Because when you bowl on vacation, you want your own ball! Well, if you’re serious about it anyway. At the time, Pops had decided to pay for postage with his collectors’ stamps, adhering them to the entire exterior of the box. Unfortunately, when you mail yourself a package with a gazillion collectors’ stamps on it, there is that chance that your stamps will get confiscated and you will not be able to return them to your collection at the end of it. THAT person, whoever was responsible for the missing stamps–perhaps it was the U.S. Postmaster General–got a letter.
Pops created a handful of memories like this and they all make me chuckle to remember them. These memories also allow me to feel closer to him, especially after his death.
I guess what I like so much about Pops’ letter writing is that they allow me to see a bit of myself in him. Sure, I write here on this blog but, like Pops, I also write when I feel like I have been wronged. Like when I get so frustrated with my health insurance company that I pull out a red marker and write a polite-but-firm note to their billing department on my payment stub. If I had to spend another minute on the phone, waiting to talk to the proper department I was going to lose my mind.
Who knows if my red pen diatribe made any difference to my health insurance company? It was really about taking action and standing up for myself, anyway. I suspect thats why Pops wrote. He wrote letters because he felt a heck of a lot better after having done so. He got to say his piece. And then he made 10 photocopies of his Certified Mail Return Receipt Delivery Confirmed letter to store in his file cabinet, as he must’ve known they’d be important one day. That we’d treasure his writing after he was gone.
As 2012 came to a close, I thought about the most significant events of the past year. Of course, business-related stuff was in there, but at the top of the list was losing my grandfather. Months after his passing when I pulled out my red pen to stand up for what is RIGHT and JUST, I felt Pops with me.
At the time, I was also experimenting with a paper pieced heart pattern to make that quilted pillow you see which, now finished, reminds me of another letter that Pops wrote. I’ve only done some minor editing, which you will see.
Dear Father So-and-So,
I had a very large antique sculptured picture frame. It was finished in antique white. In the frame was a beautiful Saint, her apparel the most gorgeous red. It was outstanding. Antique dealer offered me $85.00 for the picture, which I refused. It’s value was much greater.
I called the Church Rectory (###-####). I told them I wanted to donate a large valuable antique religious picture of a beautiful Saint. Being I have impaired vision, my wife drove me to the church to deliver the picture.
During a great length of time I asked many of your church parishioners if they ever saw a large religious picture (I described) which I donated. They all responded “NO” they never saw the picture. It should have been have been displayed in the Church Library or some other location in the church building to be seen and admired.
I became very annoyed. . . Why haven’t church parishioners had the opportunity to see and admire a large valuable antique religious picture of a beautiful Saint?
Orneriness aside, Pops had his own writing style. He showed his appreciation for antiques, vibrant colors, and details as well as his desire to be generous all the while calling out a priest! Pops leads in slowly to his main point, achieving a more dramatic ending. He is direct and wants an explanation for why he and his community have been so deprived. Fair enough.
What does this have to do with a quilted pillow? Well, as you can see, that paper pieced heart IS the most gorgeous red. And, sometimes the littlest things can trigger a memory of a loved one. Pops was on my mind and I wanted to share. I declined writing and reading his eulogy at his funeral at the time because I just wasn’t ready. Though, I carried a copy of the above excerpted letter with me to the funeral and for weeks after in my purse.
Now it’s a few months later and Pops is offering me little reminders that he’s still with me, showing me that I’m ready to offer a different kind of eulogy. One that involves a meandering path to explain a sewing project. I suppose it’s similar meandering path he took in some of his letters. Gotta set the scene before you get to your point!
If you’re still reading and still interested in that pillow, you can find the free paper piecing pattern here. To make a pillow like mine, you’ll want to enlarge the pattern to 300% before printing it on your foundation paper.
This tutorial is helpful for creating a log cabin design, which you’ll want to follow until your pillow top measures 18 1/2″ x 18 1/2″. Then you make yourself a quilt sandwich and quilt it by grabbing your walking foot and stitching 1/4″ along side some of your seams. If you’re feeling fancy, make a quilted back too, and assemble with a zipper closure with some help here.
And, most importantly, when choosing your fabrics for the heart, find the most gorgeous red out there. It should look like it belongs on a beautiful Saint. It’ll be outstanding. You may be offered a certain amount of $$ for your work, but it’s value will be much greater.
Fabric, paper piecing foundation paper, batting, thread, zippers and pillow forms are available for purchase in the Home Made shop.