One of the things I remember most about my Grandmother was her quilts. She was infamous in our family for using remnants from sewing projects or tearing up old clothing to use for her quilting. Everyone in the family received at least one and some had several. My life is a lot like those quilts, pieced together of new and old. Our family had some dark secrets and the healing journey has led me through a sorting process where I left some pieces behind and kept others to become the quilt of my life today. Just like the connection between our family and my Grandmother’s quilts, the five things I value most come from what I learned through my family.
The first thing I value most in my life is my own inner strength and conviction. When I started having memories of abuse as a child, it was inner strength that carried me through many dark hours of healing. This inner strength kept me focused on love when my teenage daughter told me she was pregnant and today I have a wonderful grandson to show for it. My inner strength carried me through my son’s attempted suicide and helped us to grow as a family. And my strength carried me through my fiancé’s arrest for a crime he didn’t know he was committing. Each event has required that I choose which pieces to hold onto and what to let go of.
The second thing I value most is my relationship with my mother. We have not always had the kind of relationship we share now. My healing journey included learning to forgive her for not knowing what was happening around us and for lying to me about my own father. Learning to let go and just focus on what we have today has been a long process but well worth it. Today, we share a love of gardening and plants. Our visits together always include a garden conversation, typically a trip to a garden center and a walk around our own gardens talking about what’s next or what’s new. We’ve shared plants and compared how they grew differently in each other’s gardens. Amongst the garden plants we are now free to talk about the past, share joys and pains of the present moment and visions of the future.
The third thing I value most is my relationship with my children and my grandchildren. We have always had a close rapport that included lots of laughter and a close sense of camaraderie. As my children have grown into adults, we have faced the challenges of growing new relationships. The underlying connection we have always shared has been tested and has persevered. We have learned to allow one another space to be individuals and at the same time maintain a connection that is immediately apparent when we are together. I have great respect for each of them and marvel when I see the strength I carry reflected in who they are.
The fourth thing I value most in my life is my capacity to create. I suspect I got my creativity and my mental ability to solve a problem from my Grandfather. He was a machinist who invented a ditch cleaner for the local farmers and the first sugar beet picking machine. I now see those same capacities in myself. I find myself questioning how to do something, first thinking I don’t know how and then determining to figure it out. This determination has led me to massage school to become a massage therapist; been instrumental in creating gardens for birds, butterflies and my own enjoyment, and has helped in the design and building of a solar greenhouse. It seems the less I fear the unknown the more ideas I have for creating new things in my life.
The fifth thing I value most is my relationship with Tom, my fiancé. We met over the internet and my ad indicated I’d know “him” by the look in his eyes. Each day, I am blessed to see the love reflected in Tom’s twinkling blue eyes. There is an easy flow in our lives interspersed by the simple pleasures of cooking together, playing with our pets and creating projects for our home. Together, we have created a beautiful, relaxing home where our families can come together to enjoy one another. Simply put, Tom is my playmate, my lover and my best friend.
Each of the things I value in my life is reflected in who I am and how I live. I believe my inner strength is like the thread used to bind the pieces of a quilt together. My creativity provides for an every changing quilt design with new and exciting combinations. The relationships in my life provide the texture and beauty and together, we create a quilt my Grandmother would have been proud of.