Tuesday, April 04, 2006

My maternal granmother and last living grandparent died on Saturday. I don't have a copy of her obituary yet so I don't know when she was born. Her name was Theresa Ceazee Coleson Ward. She turned 90 last September, so I think that means she was born in 1915. Anyway, I wrote a little essay about her that was read at a memorial service some friends had for my Mom in memory of her Mother, in Nairobi, Kenya, where they live. My cousin is also supposed to read it at her funeral today in Eldorado, Arkansas. I wanted to post it here, to honor her.

My Grandmother's Quilt

When I graduated from high school my Mamaw made me a quilt. The back is yellow and the front is made up of small octagons, each cut from random pieces of brightly colored material, about 2 inches in diameter, grouped together in a circular pattern, giving it almost a kaleidoscope effect. I love my quilt and I was so excited to receive it as a college freshmen.

Over the years I have used my quilt for many things, not just for warmth in my bed. It’s been used to sit on outside at picnics; to wrap up one my children, hot with a fever; and most recently I took it on a trip to a beach on the Indian Ocean. If you could see it now, you would see that the color has faded from the buttery yellow it once was. The multi-colored, quilted front is starting to fray in many places. I have honestly used this quilt until it is about to fall apart, and I think my Mamaw would be glad. I think she made it for me to use and enjoy, because she loved me, just as she loved all 16 (?) of us grandchildren.

When I look at my quilt I think of my grandmother and the life she lived, each shape of color representing different events and each larger circle symbolizing each season of her life. Mamaw’s life was long and full. The shades of the many different colors could represent all the friends she had over the years; all the lives that she touched; people she loved; places she went; meals she cooked; people she cleaned up after; words of encouragement she gave. Now, those shapes represent memories I have of her.

I have so many great memories of being with my Mamaw and yes, most involve eating and drinking…..I loved her yellow cakes with chocolate icing. I loved the way she would always make me chocolate pudding from the box and let me hold the mixer. I loved the way she and Papaw would let me drink all the coffee I wanted. And there are not so great memories….like getting a spanking from her when Scott and I tracked in sand from the yard right after she had vacuumed, or nearly suffocating from the heat in her living room in winter, or her dog Angel. But there are many more good memories. I remembering laying in bed with her at night once, asking her questions about her life as a young married girl. She told me stories about her and Papaw and their early life on the river. I remember her reading her Open Windows before she went to sleep and seeing her lips moving in prayer. I loved seeing her sitting in her chair crocheting. I loved the way she was always interested in other people; always asking questions about their lives and activities.

Just like my quilt, Mamaw was worn out at the end of her life. Her physical body no longer able to take in oxygen properly, her heart not able to beat. Yet I know without a doubt that my Mamaw has a new body now, because I know that my Mamaw had given her heart to Jesus. She was not a perfect woman and she would have been the first to admit it, but she knew she was forgiven. She had entrusted her life to the Lord and she knew that she was headed to eternity in heaven with Him.

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