Repeating a Theme
I've been doing Quilt Groups with seniors for 3 1/2 years now. I haven't run out of ideas yet, but sometimes I have to repeat a theme because it's just too much fun. Recently I revisited a Boat & Ship theme. I brought some of the same props and ideas, but the stories I heard and the tangents we wandered off on, were all new!
Queen Mary Memories
Ken is one of my favorite participants, because he is enthused about all subjects. I couldn't have been more thrilled when he looked at this postcard and told me he was once on board the Queen Mary with 15,000 members of the military headed for England during WWII. He sort of chuckled to tell me there were nurses on board too, but they were restricted to one area of the ship. "Except for one night..." Ken suddenly recalled an evening on the ship when everyone on board gathered on deck to sing. I could tell by Ken's sudden serious tone, that the memory was a special one. I pictured the moonlit deck packed with young people, singing... and wondering and maybe worrying about what was ahead.
Ken shared other things about the journey, from the horrible British food... "Kidney Pie! It seems like that's all there was!" to details about the ship itself. I loved the way he kept me interested with his questions. "We had no protection that whole journey. Why do you think the ship was never attacked by the enemy?" He answered my shrug with a description of the ship's speed and zigzagging route that made it a difficult target.
In our 90 minutes around the quilt, we went off on many tangents with our theme. But it was after our group had ended that I heard the most touching story. Ken and his daughter lingered and we got back to the subject of the Queen Mary. This time Ken described the celebratory spirit of all on board, as the ship returned to America after the war. His voice became softer and he gazed off when he mentioned seeing the Statue of Liberty as the ship pulled into the Hudson Bay. "It was pretty emotional." he said. Then he shared one more thought. "And then across the bay, I spotted the building where my father's office was. And it was a weekday and I knew he was there." Ken's daughter smiled like she had heard that story before. I smiled because I was hearing his story for the first time. In my family, we have no stories about the war or ships. I'm so glad Ken shared his.
What I learned: I learned some pretty interesting facts from Ken about his ship and a specific time in history. But I will forget some of those numbers he quoted and I'll remember his voice when he shared about coming home. The personal thoughts always stick with me more than the facts!
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For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.