My Grandma Augspurger created quite a legacy – 4 children, 9 grandchildren, and just recently now 10 great-grandchildren. However, there was more to her than raising a family. She was an amazing cook – I doubt I was ever truly hungry when we were at my grandparent’s house. We may have said the words, “I’m hungry,” but I’m not sure how we ever could have been anything but full!
She was also an artist. I don’t know if she would have described herself that way, but all quilters are artists. She learned from the women in her family, who learned from the women in their family and so on. A tradition passed on from generation to generation. I wish I could have learned from her in person. I didn’t start quilting until many years past her death. My style isn’t as traditional as hers. I probably have more tools and gadgets. But, we are both quilters – creative, intentional artists.
Her quilts are beloved in our family. She made quilts for her children and their spouses. She made quilts for all of her grandchildren when they were born. Mine (the yellow one below) was very much loved – so much so, that my mom insisted we make a new one for me to start using my junior year of high school because the one from grandma was starting to fall apart! Then, as grandchildren began to get married, she made quilts for them too. However, not all the grandchildren were married before she died. So, several years after she died, when my grandpa died, and the family began going through the house, there were some demands placed on certain quilts. I think, in the end, every grandchild ended up with one of her bed quilts, whether during her lifetime, or after.
My grandpa’s mom was a quilter too. A couple summers ago my mom’s cousin, Gayle, passed away. Since she didn’t have any family left, her estate was auctioned off. Gayle had a lot of stuff – I mean, A LOT of stuff. It was strange going through her things with all the others who showed up at the auction. I wasn’t close to Gayle by any means, but she is family and some of these people were treating her stuff with less respect than I felt she was due. I bought a lot of her dad’s ties – my great uncle Russell. Some day I’ll make a quilt or wall hanging using those ties.
At the very end of the auction, all of the quilts she had were being sold off. That’s why we were really there. My mom wanted her grandma’s quilts. So, as we stood around this flat bed trailer covered in quilts, I walked around looking at them. As I overheard people talking about the ones we wanted, I’d casually say, “Oh yeah, didn’t my great-grandma make wonderful quilts?!” I was not below guilting these people into not bidding for them! Or, when my mom started bidding, I’d say a little too loudly, “Mom, I really hope you get your GRANDMA’S QUILTS BACK…”
Of course, she did. She had a plan for them. My brother got one. She gifted one to me at a bridal shower – I wasn’t expecting it and was so grateful. On one of the warmer days in November I went out to the hammock to read. It wasn’t really cool enough to need a quilt, but I wanted one, so I lay there with this quilt covering me. I thought about my great-grandma – I wondered if she ever imagined who would use her quilt? I wondered if she ever thought about her great-grandchildren, about me… I doubt I was even a possibility in her mind when she made that quilt, but there I was lying under it feeling comforted by her time and creativity. Her legacy lives on in her art.
The quilt my grandma made for me is on my bed now. It’s folded in half on my side of the bed – I need a little extra weight and warmth than Brad. Every night I lay under her quilt comforted by her time and creativity – knowing that this one was made with me in mind. Every cut, every stitch – it was all for me. (Seeing my nieces with the quilts is such a bittersweet moment – grandma would have loved them so much!)
Most of the quilts I make are for others – some people I know, others I don’t. It’s interesting to think about how my legacy will live on through those quilts. They may get passed down from family member to family member. At some point, no one will know who made the quilt. However, my time and creativity will always be part of those quilts. Whether I’m known or not, my work will live on and therefore, so will a part of me because every quilt I make contains a part of me – my thoughts, my prayers, my intentions, my work. Just like my grandma and all the other women (and men – my grandma and grandpa made one together!) before her, our legacy will live on through our art.