*“kids!” Dad would exclaim. “Lewis and Clark stood here! Here! Now move so we can take a picture together!!!” With great reluctance I would shuffle out of the car and stare into the camera with a “kill me now” look that is a constant theme in all our family photos. Dad beaming, mom smiling, my brother grinning, me grimacing.
Dad’s interest in history did not just revolve around historical markers. He has filing cabinets filled with family trees from every imaginable twig of our family. He has scanned countless photos owned by cousins. When we meet someone, they are not just a name. They are descended from so and so who used to live over there on the family farm until the house burned down and they moved across the river....a hundred years ago. And their sister married so and so and they moved down the road from another cousin......You get the point. I never understood his fascination with our ancestors until I started to quilt.
couple of week.”. One
Mary Yantis McCormick Kenmore machine, fabric I stole out of my Mom’s stash and a borrowed rotary cutter and I was off and running. Fabric was draped from the furniture, quilting magazine were stacked under the bed, and boring housework was neglected.
was addicted to fabric, and there was no going back.We found the quilts in my mothers hope chest made by Grandma Mary......and my view of family history changed. Some one else in my family liked quilting! I had Mary (Yantis) McCormick
Block from quilt made by Maryʼs mother (Melissa Yantis) assumed I was a Changeling left my crabby fairies until I found Great Grandma’s quilts.
that I was touching something my Great Grandmother (who I never met) had touched in another life time. I wondered, did she pray while she quilted? What kind of stresses concerned her? Did she kick up her heels in glee when Great Grandpa went to a Deacons conference and she got the house to herself? Did she ever think that if she had to look at that wall paper one more minute she would lose her mind. Did she worry about her weight? Dad loaned me her journals...... Fifteen years of prayers, wishes, sorrows and joys and recorded in a matter of fact way.
found out Stan (her first grandson) was
still alive. When I met him, it was like
seeing a character from a favorite novel come to life. For years when we visited the family plots I would casually glance at the headstone of Bertha without any curiosity. Not anymore.
Bertha is now (for me) the daughter of my great grandmother, and the mother of Stan. She is no longer just a marker in the cemetery.
mentioned in the journals, quilt patterns,
something called a “petal pillow” that she
made one of for every single family member. When I watch Ginger Rogers kicking up her heels on Turner Classic Network, I am aware that sixty odd years ago she watched the same movie with my Great Aunt Ethel.
So I am now officially a stalker, only for a dear loved one that I have never met, but who is still mentioned with great love and affection from those who are still living. Who knew that picking up a needle and thread would ignite in me a passion for something I previously avoided like the plague? Family history finally met FAMILY to me, and personalized the data and photographs in a way they never had before. For us (great grandma, and me) quilting is the thread that binds us together. Bertha’s wedding on the family farm Pine needle basket made by Grandma Mary
P.S. Dad has informed me that I am inheriting the four filing cabinets of family
data. But I still won’t pull over for historical markers. My children can thank me later.