By: Bob Thomas
Mrs. Cole is a country woman in Georgia. She lives in a farmhouse with her husband. Her husband farmed the land from sun up until dark. Mrs. Cole’s life, is a happy life, and filled with joys of living on a farm with her family. She would cook breakfast for her husband. Then she starts her day doing her farm chores. She is very happy to be busy. Every day, she feeds the farm animals, waters the animals, sweeps the barn and she would collect the eggs from the chickens. She would then start to clean her house. At noon, she makes lunch for herself and her husband and then continues her chores until dinner. She makes dinner and cleans the kitchen. After the kitchen is clean, she cleans the fireplace and starts another fire for the night. She relaxes by reading or spends time with her husband until time for bed. She has a very happy life being a farmer’s wife.
After a year, Mr. and Mrs. Cole had a daughter. They named her Lisa after her mother. Lisa was precious to her mother and father from the time she was born. With Lisa around, Mrs. Cole was even happier. Lisa was a good baby. She did not cry unless she was hungry or needed to be changed.
Lisa began walking and helped mommy feed the chickens and to get the eggs from the chickens. When Lisa was two years old Mrs. Cole started making the quilt for little Lisa. Mrs. Cole often thought of Lisa’s birth and things that happened as Lisa grew older. Mrs. Cole wanted to detail all those events in a “Life Quilt” she was making for Lisa. She excitedly thought how she would give Lisa the quilt when she was older. The quilt would have 35 hand stitched embroidered squares. She wanted each stitch to be lovingly done by hand. Each square was about a different life event of Lisa, and Mrs. Cole was excited.
She hand stitched slowly at first so the quilt started out slow. She did not have much time every day to stitch or sew the quilt, but she thought about the quilt every day while she worked of the farm. She would stitch for a few minutes every day before Lisa awoke and she would stitch a few minutes after Lisa went to bed every night.
Her first square was a hand stitched embroidery of Lisa taking her first steps. The square was difficult to detail but Mrs. Cole was determined to show the emotion of the moment. It took several months for Mrs. Cole to complete that first square. Her second square was Lisa feeding the chickens. It was a funny square with the chickens taller than little Lisa. The chickens were very colorful and Lisa was smiling while giving the seed to the chickens. This square took less time to make but it was completed with as much detail as the first square. The third square was Lisa sitting beside the fireplace pretending to read to her little doll. This square showed the red and yellow warmth of the fire and the joyful and motherly expression on little Lisa.
As Lisa grew older, she could help mommy with more of her chores. Lisa admired her mommy on how her mommy loved her farm life. Mrs. Cole had more time and worked more time on the quilt every day as the years went by. Lisa would continue to feed the chickens, get the eggs and then clean the fireplace every day. She would milk the cows for daddy and sweep the barn for mommy. At night she would start a new fire in the fireplace.
Mrs. Cole continued Lisa’s Life Quilt. She made an embroidered quilt square about a chicken chasing the crying Lisa when she was taking the eggs from the box. She made a quilt square of the cow kicking the bucket of milk all over little Lisa. How funny Lisa looked so angry with the milk running down her face and in her hair. She also made a square of Lisa cleaning the fireplace showing Lisa with ashes on her clothes and on her face with her dog looking like he was laughing at the sight. She embroidered a square of Lisa and Daddy on the tractor, both happy and Lisa on daddy’s lap steering the tractor.
Lisa got older and began school. She rode the school bus into town every day. While she was away to school Mrs. Cole could spend more time on the life quilt for Lisa. She embroidered a square of Lisa waiting for the school bus with her dog sitting beside her. She made a square of Lisa doing her homework at the kitchen table with her mommy helping. She made a square of Lisa helping her mommy make an apple pie. Lisa had flour on her rosey cheeks with a huge smile on her face. She embroidered a square of Lisa learning to ride the used bicycle given to her for her sixth birthday.
Lisa met new friends at school. Some of them lived on farms like Lisa. These farm friends had chores like Lisa but had fewer chores because their family was larger. They told Lisa how unfair it was for her to work so much. Some of Lisa’s friends lived in the town. Their moms stayed at home and did all the house chores. Their daddy’s worked in the factory and made more money for the family. These friends had pretty dresses, nice hair and better dolls.
Lisa envied her farmer friends from school that had fewer chores than she did. She envied her town school friends and wished she had more dresses, nicer hair, a new bicycle and other nice things. Mrs. Cole explained to Lisa that we have a good life. The farm life, is a good life.
As Lisa got older, she began to dislike her farm life and all her chores. She no longer was happy to feed the chickens and get the eggs. She would do her chores, but she did not try to do her best anymore. The fireplace was not as clean as it was before. The fire would go out early on some nights. The chickens did not get enough food on some days. The chickens laid fewer eggs than before.
Lisa seemed to no longer admire her mommy. She would spend more time with her daddy as he drove the tractor and less time helping her mommy. Mrs. Cole still adored Lisa and continued to make her life quilt for Lisa. She embroidered a square of Lisa alone on the tractor driving. She made a square of Lisa in the kitchen cooking breakfast for her daddy. When Lisa was young she thought her mom doing the embroidery was interesting. When she was older, she did not care, she did not know about the quilt.
Lisa blamed her mother for her life, for not giving Lisa the things other girls had. She spent more time with her friends and less time with her mother. She spent more time with her friends from town than with her friends who lived on farms. She began to speak badly of people from farms and made fun of people that loved farm life. She wanted something more in her life than farm life.
Lisa is 22, her mother has been making her quilt for 20 years. Thousands of hours, she had diligently worked making the quilt every day in the morning and at night. All the embroidered quilt squares were done showing the significant events in Lisa’s life. Mrs. Cole outlined the embroidery in the 35 quilt squares. She hand stitched the seams around the outside edges. She added the backing. Then as a final loving touch, Mrs. Cole hand embroidered the name “LISA my Life Quilt celebrating your life, with love mom”. The life quilt was done. She was excited in seeing Lisa’s eyes when she gave her the precious gift of the life quilt. She put the quilt away in a chest until the appropriate time to give it to Lisa.
Lisa moved into town to work at the local store. She stops seeing her mom and dad except on weekends. She still does not know about the quilt. One of Lisa’s closest friends lives in town. Lisa feels good to be accepted by someone she thinks is better than herself. This friend laughs at the kids from farms. She does not laugh at Lisa because Lisa does not like farm life. She and Lisa talk for hours about how the farm people are “simple” and have no nice clothes or other nice things.
Lisa’s friend has an older brother who works at the factory. Lisa wants her friend and the brother to like her more than anything. He is more outspoken against the farmers than his younger sister. Lisa admires him for his good looks. She feels that she could change his opinion of farm people. She hopes he will accept her, love her and marry her.
Mr. and Mrs. Cole are now very old. The life on the farm is more difficult without the help from Lisa. They miss her but do not complain to her. They still love their life, they still adore Lisa. They talk to each other in the evenings about what Lisa might be doing right now and how Lisa was growing more beautiful every day. Lisa thought of other things, she did not think about her parents.
On Sunday at dinner, Lisa says to her parents that she likes the young man. She explains that she wants his acceptance and possibly his love. Lisa wants him to notice her but feels he only notices Lisa because she is friends with his sister. Mrs. Cole suggests that should Lisa invite him and the sister for dinner next Sunday. She promises to Lisa that she will impress them with something very special. Lisa wanting his acceptance, so badly, agrees to invite them immediately.
Lisa visits her friend and brother. She tells them that her parents want to invite them over for Sunday dinner for something very special. Her friend said she would go if her brother went also, the young man smirks and agrees to the dinner. Lisa’s heart leapt for joy.
On Sunday, Lisa visited bringing her friends. Everyone eats their fill. The food is good but it is served on faded old plates that were not impressive. The milk is fresh but served in older glasses. Everyone finishes eating dessert and are sitting beside the fireplace talking about current events. The visitors were seemingly polite but chuckling in their eyes held inside.
Mrs. Cole knew what to do next. She knew that the thousands of hours of love used embroidering and making the quilt would impress Lisa and her guests. She retrieves the quilt from the box and hands it to Lisa saying this is for you.
Lisa holds open the quilt and the first square her friends see is the square of the chickens chasing Lisa, they laugh. Lisa tries hard to laugh with her friends. They see the square of the milk in Lisa’s hair and laugh even harder. Lisa begins to cry on the inside and does not show to her friends how much she is hurting inside. The visitors begin to make rude remarks about the hand stitching and about farmers and farm life while pointing at other quilt squares. They are saying that even the cheapest store made quilt has more even stitching than this so called life quilt. Lisa is very angry that her mother is embarrassing her like this in front of her friends. Lisa feels she has lost everything that she thought she gained from her friendship and love.
In a fit of rage, Lisa throws the quilt into the roaring fireplace yelling at her mother “Why do you embarrass me with some hand made junk?” As the quilt burns, she leaves her parents farm house, never to return.