I made a promise this week that has been tugging at my heart for days. I was on the phone with my lovely, sweet-as-sugar grandmother, Helen, who had suddenly gone downhill fast after a recent surgery, and was just about to be moved from the hospital to a hospice. It was one of the most difficult conversations of my life, and she couldn’t say a single word- just smile and nod and cry, as my mother relayed her reactions to me. I talked about my girls…how big they’re getting and how smart they are…about her stunning vintage quilt tops that I’m going to finish for future family wedding gifts…about this blog. This would likely be the last time I would ever talk with her. I knew it. She knew it. God only knows how I found any words to say at all, with so many hot tears stinging my cheeks, and my throat about to swell shut…words like “I love you. I’ll miss you terribly. You’ve shaped the woman I am and I pray that I can someday be even a fraction as kind, gentle, selfless, and courageous as you have been.”
My grandmother’s sheer essence is sweet. She’s wholesome, yes, and hardworking, but above all else, she is sweet. So it’s seems very fitting to me that strawberries are one of her favorite things in all the world. Strawberry jam, strawberry pie, strawberries in her garden, strawberries adorning little hanging pot holders, wooden wall calendars, and sun catchers on the sliding door. If each person had to be assigned a life symbol, hers could be nothing other than a perfectly red, ripe, glossy strawberry.
So as our conversation neared an end, and I grasped for one last way to communicate how very much I love her, I promised her I would make strawberry dresses for my daughters to wear at her memorial service. We all cried, and I marveled that somehow fabric had yet again managed to speak the words of my heart.
So yesterday at 4:30, I cruised around my local quilt shop examining all of the strawberry fabrics in stock, trying to decide which might be worthy of this very special purpose. Maybe a petite 1930s reproduction. Or perhaps a youthful Riley Blake. The Michael Miller strawberry tea pots couldn’t be more darling. Or I might just use some of Sandi Henderson’s Meadowsweet that I already have in my stash.
I didn’t find out until later that evening, that Helen had gone to heaven at 4:30, at the very moment I was clutching handfuls of strawberry fat quarters, thinking of her smile and how much she’d love the pretty little pinafores I have in mind for the girls.
It gives me such joy to know that God’s timing is always perfect. More perfect than I could ever comprehend.