The Crane Quilt
It all started years ago when I designed four white cranes on a brown background with a lighter tone that moves from the left to the right, enhancing the movement and energy that comes from these beautiful birds. I was pleased with the design but frustrated when I realized that collecting the small brown fabric pieces was going to take years. I was also intrigued about why this image had suddenly taken form in my imagination.
During a visit in Italy my brother expressed his appreciation for my new interest in quilting, something very new to my former country, and in that moment I decided, without telling him, that the crane quilt that I had designed was going to be his. When I returned to America I started piecing the brown swatches together and included a few images of animals to capture the essence of his personality: vibrant, energetic, playful, with an element of surprise.
After that visit we talked more regularly on the phone, with a depth that had never been there before. Due to my mother’s advancing age I thought our closeness was natural as we anticipated her death. With time a feeling of disquiet emerged that I didn’t understand.
Then one night I woke up abruptly with a strong pain in the right side of my abdomen, which disappeared after few minutes. At the same time my husband awakened from a nightmare of falling. I was left with the clear knowledge that something awful had happened. I thought of thieves coming to our house, but we checked all the windows, the front porch and the back porch: all was very quiet, and our home was enveloped in darkness.
Early the next morning I received the phone call from my sister that my brother, while supervising the renovations on his condo, had been accidentally hit by a construction crane and had fallen head first into the room below and was now in a deep coma. He had fallen at the same time I woke up with that strong pain (with six hours difference). He died two days later, after donating his organs.
My heart was broken and my pain was devastating, but I knew that my unconscious was now more than ever supporting me.
Completing this quilt became my way of processing my pain, it was both a lament and a celebration of life, with all that it encompasses, from high to low, dark and light. It also portrays his family: him in the center, his wife in the center but below him, and his two sons at each side. To my surprise I discovered that if I follow this configuration with my hand I make the sign of the cross.