SOUL: Soul Survival By B.A. Sarvey

Week 10 Word: SOUL
Word Count 500
Soul Survival
By B.A. Sarvey 500 words
Truth to tell, this was an ugly quilt. I took a cursory glance at the misaligned strips, subdued hues, mentally registered ‘ugly quilt’, sidled past. I examined a green glass creamer but ‘ugly quilt’ kept creeping into my head, demanding attention. I set down the lovely, retraced my steps. “Primitive.” Then, “ugly.” Why was I drawn to this? If I was going to purchase a quilt, it would have vibrant colors, complicated, symmetrical patterns. Ohio Star, Mariner’s Compass, Flying Geese—treasures. Not this oversized dishrag made by a seven-year-old. Uneven strips of drab colors, random shorter strips of drabber colors followed no pattern, boasted nary a straight line. I held it at arm’s length. Unfathomably, the seventy-five dollars seemed reasonable. I took it home.
Once inside, I spread the quilt out, then retrieved the journal from my nightstand. No name graced it. The letters were formed with painstaking labor: an unschooled hand. Imperfect. Like the quilt’s stitches.
The journal was an antique show find years ago. I never finished reading it, but recalled something about a quilt relating to the soul. I thumbed through, scanning entries like I was searching the scrap bag for Log Cabin strips. This wasn’t a day-to-day diary. Only important events and thoughts were recorded. In hindsight, I realized she didn’t have time for daily musings. She hadn’t dated many entries, although this one read, “Sept 1871”.
She talked about “the fever” that threatened to take her two youngest. They survived. The Double Wedding Ring quilt did not, as the doctor told her to burn it, along with the children’s nightclothes, preventing contagion.
“Hankered after that green flowered calico at the mercantile. Saved a long time. Sold extra eggs, scrimped on my needs, took in mending. But H. found my savings in baking powder tin. Squandered all on drink. Must use scraps now. Least he don’t know about this journal.”
She enumerated:
“Brown—Matthew’s Sunday-best trousers. Dove gray pinstripe—Frieda’s pinafore. Lot of navy with the tiny dots. All the girls got dresses from that bolt. Strips kinda wavy but trimming to straighten wasteful. ‘Waste not, want not’. Damn that fever. Least all my children are alive. Aunt Elsa will help quilt, long with the girls, when I get done piecing.”
And later, dated Oct. 1871:
“Finished quilt today. Fingers weary and eyes. Not fine like many I have seen. Strips and stripes irregular as three-legged dog. But don’t matter what warmth looks like, long as was completed by harvest moon. We may be poor in material things, yet we are rich in our souls. In our love for one another and the Lord.”
“…stitched my initials in the corner, SJ. Whole name too proudful. Those who matter know it is me. A thread from soul of each who quilted binds all.”
I knelt, examined the corner. How did I miss this? Emerald letters, SJ, shouted out. Sarah? Susan? Didn’t matter. Her beautiful soul transformed my ugly quilt. I nestled into her strength and continued reading.

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