Tragedy has a way of melding with the sweetness of life to redefine and empower us to be better humans, and to expand our spiritual center. Like a lovingly constructed quilt, pieced together from materials no longer fit for their intended use, a greater creation is brought into being. Using the materials of old shirts, curtains, dresses and baby blankets, these once incongruous pieces are brought together to warm bodies and hearts as they are passed along from neighbor to neighbor, family member to family member, through the generations.
At 16 years old my mother lived through the tragic event of losing all of her family possessions in a house fire (really a farm fire – everything burnt to the ground). Immediately, the rural farming community in which she had lived since birth rallied to support her family in finding them a place to live, clothing, food, and many of the household necessities required for daily living. The home that she became so grateful to move into after the fire was lovingly described a “three room shack with outdoor plumbing”.
Her parents, who were in their late 50’s at the time, were of the mindset that they would just begin again. Grandmother began making new quits for the beds, and many of the neighbour women pitched in with old pieces of material and their time, to comfort my mother’s family.
In one tragic experience, my mother became a beneficiary, and at the same time, the incident left an imprint that developed into serial reciprocity. After my mother grew, married and had children of her own, her mindful nature of the needs of others provided a learning framework for me.
Looking back through the patchwork quilt of my childhood, several of my mothers’ charitable and philanthropic endeavours come to mind. Through these memories I find inspiration. These experiences have enriched my world, and the experiences of others, whose lives I have been given the opportunity to weave into my philanthropic quilt.