In every issue of Quilting Arts, we feature a thoughtful essay called ‘the last word.’ Kim Hanson wrote a poignant, relatable essay on her quilting legacy and what she hopes it might be. Read on for an excerpt from Kim’s essay.
The Last Word by Kim Hanson
I’m getting to the age in life where I’m so very grateful to be alive. I’ve lost family members and friends and acquaintances that have not been extended the same privilege that I have . . . to still be here in my sixth decade.
What can I leave behind? What will my legacy be? Is it possible to touch the lives of my children and grandchildren when I’m no longer living? Basically, I wonder if I can leave a piece of my heart behind. When they were young, my children were the center of my universe; my life revolved around them in a real sense.
My solace in those days came in the evenings when the kids were tucked safely into bed. That’s when I would work on my latest quilting project, often far into the night. I felt such peace and strength and creativity as I sat stitching at my sewing machine, my fingers smoothing out the fabrics as they ran under my needle. It was my way of protecting my children, wrapping them safely in my love. But, did my children feel that?
Now, I have grandchildren—the greatest gift and blessing of all. I have quilted and sewn for both of them, many times over. With the luxury of time, things have changed. Life’s frantic pace has slowed down, and I can breathe, relax, and reflect.
But one thing has not changed. I still feel such joy and a sense of accomplishment when I finish a quilt and lay it atop one of my grandchildren’s beds. It’s my way of protecting them, wrapping them safely in my love. But, do my grandchildren feel that?
I wonder when I’m gone, will my quilts remain? Will my family truly understand that they are, and always have been, an expression of my love for them? Will they “get” me? Of course, my secret wish is that they do understand. I’m ever hopeful that my quilts will serve as a symbol of unspoken love. I’m ever hopeful that my children and grandchildren will still snuggle under one of my quilts, late at night, and feel protected, and cherished, and secure. I’m ever hopeful that they will know, with each quilt I’ve stitched, I’ve left behind a teeny tiny piece of my heart.
Haven’t you been quilting long enough to start thinking about your own creative legacy? Submit your completed essay (up to 800 words) along with a low-resolution image to firstname.lastname@example.org with “the last word” in the subject line. Read Kim’s full article in the latest issue of Quilting Arts.