Friday, May 15, 2009

Keeping the Memories Going

At this time of year, time seems to be moving at a very fast pace. Graduations. Showers. Mother's Day. There's a lot going on. Many memories are being made on a daily basis.
An unexpected delight this past week was going to see children's author and illustator Patricia Polacco at the Skokie Public Library. For the hour she talked about her books and her life, time seemed to stand still for those in her audience. How she loved her grandparents and the stories they told her as a little girl. We were transported to the time before TV's were in every household and storytelling was the tie to bind generations together.

To date, Patrica Polacco has writtten over 70 books. Many of them have an underlying theme of righting wrongs within the school or community - bullying, prejudice, poverty, disabilities. But with her wonderful, vibrant illustrations and colorful text, you are gently guided towards a fair resolve without even knowing you are learning tolerance and love in the process. She also writes books about family times: baking Thunder Cake when a storm is brewing, her older brother with red hair, her best friend getting cancer.

One of Ms. Polacco's most well-known stories is one titled The Keeping Quilt. It is about immigrants leaving the old country and never seeing those left behind ever again. But with scraps of the clothing of the parted relatives a quilt is made...and to future generations their stories are told. And, yes, this is based upon Patricia's own true story.

As she was talking about the making of this book and the generations before hers, many of my own memories surfaced: how Grandma R. was a baker with heavenly orange-frosted rolls, how Grandma N. raised a flock of seven as an early widow, how my Mom changed her clothes before Dad came home for dinner, how we packed up to go to an early breakfast in the mountains. However, my attention quickly refocused when I heard her voice asking, "Would you like the see the real Keeping Quilt? I brought it with me!"

Oh. My. Goodness.

Would I ever LOVE to see the real Keeping Quilt! And she pulled it out of a very ordinary looking bag, all folded up like it was something you could see every day.

It is an over 60 year-old quilt and is certainly showing its age, but it is breathtakingly beautiful. And I am thanking my lucky stars for the memories shared by this certain author with her hair twisted in a funky knot on top of her head and that I could be here this night.


Jed and Anne said...

It really was so special to be able to see such a wonderful author live and in-person. It was fun to be able to share the night with you as well!

Linnea said...

I LOVE Patricia Polacco! How neat that you got to see her-and her quilt-in person!

Spirit Bear said...

What a great photo of Patricia with the Keeping Quilt. I will never forget that evening and the fun of meeting her. Deb, when are you beginning your keeping quilt?

Timi + Andrew said...

Must have been a very special evening!