I was known as a nervous child, a child who could not do “close work,” although my fingers longed to make the beautiful patterns that my father made as a tailor, and that two of my aunts made in the special garments they sewed for me. For more of my years, I did not sew. Even garments needing buttons or hems were dropped off at the dry cleaners.
When my father died, I became the possessor of all the family linens. For years I carted them from one city to another. Some I sold, some I gave away. Others I would occasionally use–tablecloths, doilies, and napkins of linen, cotton, rayon, grace with intense and muted colors.
After many years of trying to piece together the fragments of my life–shattered by the violence I grew up in–the Spirit has guided my now steadier hands to the quilting of these splendid pieces. I massage with nimble fingers, now, what beauty I can salvage from the piles of fragmented and painful memories that represent to me my childhood. It is my table quilt.
This is excerpted from “Table quilt,” a reflection written by Sandra M. English that appeared in At the Table: A Collection of Creative Works, published by Women of the ELCA upon the 10th anniversary of the organization (1998).