|Double Irish Chain, c. 1840, Lambertville, NJ|
"For it is in giving that we receive." -Saint Francis of Assisi
Yesterday I received the catalogue from the "Common Threads" exhibition, celebrating the tricentennial of Hunterdon County, N.J. The exhibition was a very special project, curated by longtime friend and mentor Judy Grow, the curator of the Hunterdon County Historical Society.
Judy and I met more than 20 years ago, when she was the owner of Frames & Framers, a do-it-yourself and custom picture framing workshop across the highway from Quakerbridge Mall in New Jersey. Whenever she was in the shop, we chatted about a variety of topics from her husband's magnificent artwork to my involvement with swimming.
One day, Judy had one of her quilts hanging in the shop, and we got to talking about quilts. I told her about my quilt, the red, white and green "New York Beauty" from Kentucky. She was very interested, and asked if I would be willing to lend it for a quilt show at the Prallsville Mills in Stockton, New Jersey.
At first, I was uneasy about the idea of lending the quilt. It was by far my most valuable possession, and irreplaceable. At the same time, I had absolute confidence in Judy, and wanted other people to enjoy the quilt. So I decided to lend the quilt for the show. It was the first time I ever shared a quilt publicly, and it was the same quilt I had hidden from my mother for years, fearing she would give me a hard time for foolishly spending my money. None of my fears had any merit whatsoever, as I would learn.
Needless to say I was delighted to receive the "Common Threads" catalogue yesterday, and so happy for Judy, but I also learned something. Lambertville is in Hunterdon County. I felt a little silly not knowing that, because I spent lots of time in Lambertville when I lived in the Princeton area. I'd always thought it was part of Mercer county.
Then I remembered a quilt- a red, white and green Double Irish Chain made in Lambertville in the 1840s. Mom gave me the quilt years ago, and I wasn't sure where it was. When I located it, I posted pictures for Judy on Facebook. It was never my intent to dangle the quilt in front of Judy after missing out on lending it for the exhibition. Truth of the matter was, I wanted to see if I could find a permanent home for it. Secretly, I hoped there would be an opportunity to donate the quilt, even though it missed the big dance.
Mom and I talked, and we are happy to say the quilt is on its way home, a gift from both of us to the Hunterdon County Historical Society. Even though it missed being in the exhibition by a week, Judy's efforts caused the quilt to surface, and inspired the gift. When an exhibition reveals objects such as this quilt, it is a job well done. For me, it was a chance to pay tribute to the gifts I have received. One of those gifts was the important lesson I learned from Judy all those years ago: share the quilts!
|Hexagon Flowers, c. 1970s|
I was overwhelmed by her generosity, very thankful, and stunned to receive such a beautiful gift just hours after deciding to donate the other quilt. There was something magical about the whole experience of yesterday. If you ever have the opportunity to give a gift, don't ask questions. Just do it. There really is no way to describe the feeling of joy, and that may be the greatest gift of all.