Earthly Goods

There are quilts in the post. I promise. But, first.

I found this photo of my mother while I was hunting for something else. As most of you know, she passed away mid-November [obituary], and yes, my brain is sort of strange right now. This photo was in a grouping of three of my mother and her two siblings:

And tucked underneath each of these was a photo of young baby, about 10 months old. I assume it was my mom’s sister Martha, who died of whooping cough when she was a baby, but I can’t ask my mother now (one of the things that happens when your mother dies, is that I go to call her up and ask her a question, but…). We are big on vaccines in our family, given that my father had polio and my mother’s sister died of pertussis.

Perhaps because my mother was a depression baby, she hung onto things. She was neat, tidy, not a hoarder at all, but she hung onto things. When my children were younger, I asked for books from my childhood. Later, much later — after all my children were grown — she gave me two of my books. I think she kept them around, first for my younger brother and then for grandchildren and then I think my Dad just schlepped them off to the thrift store in the end. And there are other stories, of earthly goods long-wanted, but now only after her death coming forward to be distributed. And some of her things won’t be given away until much later, which makes closure more difficult.

My earthly possessions, such as these quilts in a closet, just sort of stack up. Last year when we were all doing Zoom calls together, I promised my children I’d get together a list and let them pick what they wanted. Ooops. Inspired by recent personal events I finally put one together today. I’ll send it out to them, with some guidelines, and see what happens. (Hopefully, shipping will happen.)

I’ve long kept an online Quilt Index, as well as a digital version in my numbers-type software. I uploaded a version of it into Google Docs. Then I went through and tried to identify where all my quilts had gone: gifted, given, lost, tossed…the usual categories. NFD means Not For Distribution, and those are the quilts that I rotate up on my walls or use on our bed. Turns out I have about 78 quilts that can go now, with more to come. I’ll offer it first to the children and their spouses, and then to the grandchildren. And then I’ll decide what to do with the rest after they choose. (My husband went through the list and approved.)

What do you do with your creations?

  • Give them away as you make them?
  • Keep them around until you then give them away?
  • Build another closet?

Hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving–

11 thoughts on “Earthly Goods

  1. I give most of the quilts I make to Ronald McDonald House. They use every size, from 36″ to go over premie incubators to lap size given to folks who stay at the House. I don’t make many bed size, but the few I have made are used in our home or have been given to family members.

  2. I tend to give my quilts away, perhaps too quickly sometimes, but in the end, I’d rather the quilt be used. I do have the assortment we keep for ourselves and the hardest grouping for me to figure out what to do with are smaller mini quilts.

  3. You’ve been on my mind and prayers. Hope you’re doing ok. For a long time I kept almost all my quilts and viewed them as precious if they were made for patterns. Didn’t use them or wash them thinking they needed to stay pristine. Happy to say that time has passed and now I use and give away most quilts.

  4. Hi Elizabeth. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and photos of your loving family. I took the opportunity to read your mother’s obituary- so beautifully expressed.
    In our recent move, I tried to rationalise my quilt numbers, happily giving another to my son and selling four, for a song, at the recent destash market. I also updated my “Quilts I have Made” page on my blog, recording their new whereabouts. I feel now I almost have a manageable number, with large bed ones on rotation and smaller ones ready to giveaway. Also thinking about a ‘one in ( or newly made) / one out’ policy as I finish up my latest quilt.
    I think of you often and hope things are…ok?

  5. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I lost my grandmother last year in October. She raised me. I still to this day go to call her to tell her stuff. I go through moments that I don’t think about her and then it hits me and knocks the wind out of me. I don’t ever want to get to a point that I don’t think of her first when I want to share something. It let’s me know that I am never going to forget her. She was my go to for everything. I embrace the grief because I know my heart and mind will forever keep her memories alive for me. I hope you too can get to that point. The holidays are definitely the hardest because she absolutely loved them so much. That and every new child that enters our family brought so much joy to her.
    My advice for the quilts that you have no place for would be to donate them to a charity group that can auction them off for funding. Any that don’t meet the standards for them to auction off, look into hospitals, foster care agencies or homeless shelters. Those individuals appreciate every quilt that they receive.
    Good luck, and God bless.

  6. I have a little less that three years of quilting under my belt and have completed 12 quilts during that time. My first several quilts are displayed in a cabinet that belonged to my grandmother. Some of my quilts are made specifically for giving away, such as graduation gifts for my grandchildren and I have recently donated a couple of quilts. I hope to be able to donate more, as well as make quilts for each of my daughters.

  7. What beautiful photos of your Mom and her siblings. Could the baby photos tucked behind their photos, be actually their own baby photos?

    What a beautiful stack of quilts in your closet;). I sometimes think I have just too many quilts. And yet my list of “want to make” quilts grows longer still. I usually have the receiver in mind when I make a quilt. I definitely think it’s a good idea to “give the things” while one is still alive.

    I hope you have a good Thanksgiving tomorrow. Thinking of you in your grieving for your Mom. xo

  8. Your mother was so beautiful. Prayers for you and your family, hopefully you can enjoy family time for the holidays. Hang in there 😥

  9. I know how hard it is to come across a mother’s belongings and deal with them. Allow everyone a few keepsakes, for sure. As for quilts, I try to give mine away as I go. I have a very out-of-date spreadsheet like yours. though I always track quilt dimensions too. I’ve learned that showing family a photo only, without a reference for size, isn’t enough information when they want a bed-sized quilt. I do not want to inventory my quilts (again), but I know I have too many NFDs… the ones that have hundreds of hours of work, and that I think won’t be appreciated. Ha! I’ll let others not appreciate them after I’m gone! Best wishes with your efforts. That’s a big task.

  10. I really got a kick out of the frame that your mother’s picture was in. I have a few just like that! I have spent the last 6 years trying to get things in order but I can see that I need to find a better plan because it isn’t working so well. LOL I keep most of my quilts but do give some to friends and family. My intention was to just have a big quilt show just for my children and grandchildren and let them take turns choosing what they wanted but this year, I started letting them choose one for their birthday. I have some family members who really appreciate them and use them but take care of them and I have some family members who use them too much LOL which translates to me that they don’t appreciate them. I don’t usually let them choose their birthday quilt. LOL Thanks for sharing everything. I should get that list going for who got what!

  11. I know you are grieving, but hope you are doing OK! I lost my mom 21 years ago. We were close and it does take time to adjust to such a significant loss, though it helped immensely that she’d had a long and good life that could be celebrated.
    I have not kept a record of the many baby, retirement, donation, gift, and family/grandchild quilts I’ve made- about 50% of my “output,” I’m guessing. The other 50% are mostly “heirloom” quilts with a kazillion hours of work, including award winning hand quilting and hand appliqué, in them. Those I have had appraised and those appraisals are kept with my important papers. They are displayed throughout my house, we sleep under them, and they are stacked on a guest bed. Just now facing the reality of aging and starting to think about what to do eventually when I have to downsize…….some to family, some to the New England Quilt Museum; also like the idea of donating to organizations for raffles. Not quite there yet!

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