I recently kept “the Quilt” overnight. The Georgetown Working League, the island women’s organization, wanted me to spread it on the bed in my guest room to air it out. Then it would be picked up by another duo from the League, you know, the kind of ladies who sell chances at farmers’ markets, entrances to grocery stores and lobster wharves.

Like other civic-minded organizations, all our proceeds go to our community: In this case it’s scholarships for island children as well as contributions to our island school, library and fire department.

My husband and I are impressed as I spread it out over the queen-sized bed: All those stitches, completely a product of human hands. I point out two of the stars I did in this quilt, saluting mariner’s compasses. I can’t believe how well they fit in among the other stars because I don’t by any stretch consider myself a master.

But here are my efforts along with the awe I feel for some of the women who stitch more regularly than I, all of us having worked from early September to late April or mid-May.

How fortunate I am to be among them. Before I retired from teaching, I had pretty much considered myself a loner, only happy with a couple of women I’d known for decades. So imagine my surprise to find myself going as many Monday mornings as I could to our island community center to plan and work on the latest Working League quilt. I like these women. They have lives of interest and quiet compassion. They appreciate the lessons they’ve learned in their lives and respect one another.

We relay news about each other, but there is virtually no attitude or tone indicating any kind of envy or condemnation. And what a range of viewpoints and histories! For a war baby stitching with some boomers as well as children of the Great Depression, I have been enriched by all our stories about growing up, raising children, living our marriages, etc. I have found especially absorbing our seniors’ stories from their college days, their experiences growing up during the tough times of the 1930s, or their recollections of the end of the second World War.

Other Mondays have us sharing where we were on 9/11 or on the day Pearl Harbor was attacked. Each story is listened to with quiet attention as we stitch our contributions and later connections that will become the yearly quilt.

In effect, Monday has become the real day I go to “church.” I find a spiritual communion among these women ranging in age from early 50s to early 90s. As we make the points on the various stars match and set them on background blocks, we touch and support each other’s lives, our friendships quietly quilting through layers of support.

We are learning as we work and giving away our work, trying to do some good for others. I am awed and humbled to be in this company.

 

– Special to the Telegram