Several women were asked why they quilted. Most of them said that not only did it keep them warm, but it kept them sane. One elderly lady said the following.
“If I’da known how many dishes I was gonna have to wash for the rest of my life, I’da laid down and died right then.”
And she probably had to tote her own water from the crik and heat it over an open fire. Bless her. I cannot count the number of times I have called someone–my friends–to help me get through the newest batch of dishes or laundry or errands. It passes the time. I get my work done AND am happy when I hang up the phone having shared a little time with them while doing something that needed to be done.
There are many who disparage and poke fun at women’s past times–quilting bees, blogging, scrapbooking, even exercise, and most definitely our bathroom pack visitation ritual. But for generations, women have found ways to be together, to help shoulder the load of being all things to all people–especially the people under her very own roof. Women need companionship.
I’m not saying that men and children don’t–please, don’t get me wrong. I have known many widowers who could barely keep themselves fed, but came back to life after marrying again. I have read horrifying articles about the irreparable damage done to children who have never had human touch. I’m just saying that, though I’m sure there have been some,
I have not EVER heard of a female hermit. Even Emily Dickinson lived with her sister as her companion and would lower baskets of treats and drawings to the children who visited her window. I also know that there are times when women’s cliques cause damage that is far reaching, but that is not the norm of every day friendships.
Tony and I went to Gothenburg, Nebraska several years ago. There is a very small museum there–only open certain hours of certain days of the week. But it chronicled the lives of pioneers who settled the land in and around Gothenburg. There were farm implements, and articles of clothing, household items and souveniers for sale. But the thing I found the most interesting was a photo that was on the wall.
It was a picture of a pioneer family outside their soddy. The father was in a chair. There were several children of varying ages gathered around. There was a cow on the roof of their “house.” And over to the right stood the mother. And next to the mother was a bird cage. The caption below said that during pioneer days, the women would be left alone for days on end while husbands ventured to town for supplies or out to take care of livestock and the like. The constant wailing of the wind, keeping house under ground, watching after children who could and did die for several reasons, worrying about whether and when her husband would come home, and the constant threat of Indian attack drove many women insane. The midwest was dotted with asylums for women who had literally lost their minds. Until someone discovered that what women needed was a companion, and a parakeet was just the right size. It didn’t eat much. It sang a pretty tune. It was a touch of beauty in an otherwise dismal world. The parakeet was a prized possession of many pioneer women.
As much as we like to hole ourselves away in our houses, under our covers with our books and babies about us, there are times when we just need another female. A companion with two X chromosomes to whom we may voice our opinions, uncertainties, insecurities, great bargain finds, new recipes, successes, or just the minute details of our day good or bad. Someone who will tell us that our new outfit is just the right color. Someone who will tell us that our husband IS acting immature. Someone who will tell us that WE are acting immature. We need friends in all shapes, sizes, and ages, and we need one or two that know pretty much everything there is to know about us.
There are songs and poems and books about the God shaped hole in all of us–the hole that only God can fill. There are also lots of songs and poems and books about spousal relationships and how to raise our children. They are all wonderful and good.
But there are friend shaped holes in all of us too. There is a place in us, that can only be touched and appreciated by a friend who is female. I have friends that are older than me–old enough, in fact, to be my mother. One of them IS my mother. I have friends who are younger than me–girls I’ve taught who now seek my opinion on things, and flatter me with their company. One day I hope that Victoria and I can grow into friendship like my mother and I have. I wish for her a dear friend who is old enough to be her mother without actually BEING her mother. I wish for her younger friends that she might bless with her life experiences.
God knew what he was doing when he made us creatures who need companionship. And he blesses us by giving us all different types of relationships we need.
And, above all, I can say without reservation that I am a woman who has been blessed beyond measure by all of the women who mean so much to me.