Ramona Richards has written a warm, insightful book of devotions based on thirty family quilts, most stitched by her mother and grandmother. But the sincere appreciation for the heritage that is expressed through fabric and stitches goes back even further in her family. For years, Ramona's mother was the caretaker for a 1830's antebellum quilt that survived the Civil War by being buried in the barn and then was transported west when the family moved. The once red and green Carolina lily quilt has faded and being quite fragile has now been donated to a museum.
Ramona has multiple stories for most of the featured quilts. She tells how fabric or patterns were chosen, what was going on in her mother or grandmother's life at the time the quilt was made, who the recipients were, and lessons she's learned through those quilts. I greatly appreciate that she had spoken to her mother about these quilts and in sharing her mother's thoughts with us, she is adding another "piece" to the life of each quilt. If taken care of, these quilts will live for future generations to enjoy, but by writing about them and the strong women who made them, Ramona is preserving an essence of each woman that the quilts cannot reveal. Everyone who has every fingered or looked at an antique quilt has probably wondered about the creator and her life. We wonder about the woman's life, her family, her struggles, and above all, her faith. Ramona's family will forever have those questions answered.
My mother was not a quilter, so I do not have many mementos that she created. But Mom showed her love of God and her gifts in different ways. Her flower garden was a joy to behold, and as a teenager I was sometimes irked that every flat surface in the house had either had a bouquet or houseplant on it --- even the desk in my bedroom. But today, every time I cut fresh flowers and set out a bouquet in a crystal vase before we have company, I feel my mom smiling. Mom's home cooking was the best, and she always preserved the bounty of our garden and orchard. We can no longer taste those sweet morsels, but as my daughter makes Mom's special sugar cookies or I continue the holiday tradition of making a special "no-nuts" pan of fudge for my son, we still feel her influence. This fall I even made batches of crab apply jelly, something I first made as her kitchen sidekick back almost 60 years ago.
While Mom's gifts did not include a needle and thread, several women in my extended family helped make sure that I could count sewing among my favorite things. My paternal grandmother was a hand stitcher, and everyone in the very large extended family got pillow cases and dresser scarves (remember those) embroidered by her. I learned hand embroidery from her, although it has been years since I've done it. Two aunts, one paternal and one maternal, were excellent seamstresses and they helped teach me the very basics of sewing, something I embraced enthusiastically. Richards' book brought so many smiles and memories to mind. The similarities in women's lives and what they treasure will resonant with readers. Whether your heritage values a particular piece of land, an ethnic style of cooking, a lifestyle of farming, or perhaps, the love of tiny bits of fabric stitched with love, you will appreciate this book, and like me, I think you will be embracing old memories. Appropriate prayer starters, attractively highlighted accompany each devotion. And of course, the book is full of colorful photos of the featured quilts. This book is a wonderful gift book. Give it for Mother's Day. Give it to quilting friends. If you have someone in a care facility, is aging, or is recovering from an illness, share this book. Read it to them. Start some conversations.
I want to thank Worthy Publications for the opportunity to read and review this book.