I didn’t attend QuiltCon in February, but I eagerly watched it unfold on Instagram. Over and over again in my feed I saw an incredibly moving quilt. All white with stark black lettering, it read, “I am a woman whose child is dead.” This quilt stirred up intense emotions of sadness among the show’s attendees, and among those of us at home who saw photos of it. Made by Penny Gold, a quilter I’d never heard of, I became so curious. How did this quilt come to be? What was the story behind it?
I started to do some research, learning through Penny’s blog more about her life and the tragic event that inspired this quilt. I felt so strongly that her story, and the quilt-making journey that led to this striking piece, needed to be told to a wider audience.
I emailed Penny rather audaciously to ask if I might tell it. I told her it might be for my blog, but it might be for a magazine (having not yet asked any magazine editors if they might want it), and she agreed to talk to me. With her cooperation secured, I asked several quilter friends which magazine might publish a story like this and all of them told me that if anyone would it would be Generation Q.
So I emailed Melissa, the editor, and pitched the story. And she bought it. (Turns out she subscribes to my newsletter. I had no idea!).
I spent an hour on the phone with Penny and through our conversation I feel like I made a new friend. She helped me to understand where this particular quilt fits in her decade of making quilts to deal with the loss of her son, Jeremy. She explained to me that the black and white side of the quilt that was displayed as the front at QuiltCon is actually the back. Her story will stick with me always.
The article is in the May-June issue of Generation Q which is on newsstands now. This is my first reported story for a print publication. I hope you’ll check it out.
Penny Gold says
Abby–Thanks again for your interest in my work and for writing the article! It’s so nice to see it in print and to share it with family and friends. All best wishes for your future endeavors–Penny
This was a very well-done article!
Penny, I was one of the people who was struck by your quilt. I regrammed it on my IG feed. It needed to be shared. I will need to get my hands on the magazine.
Congratulations on your first print article, Abby!
I have several friends & family who had a child who died. All different circumstances but similar everlasting grief. However, all of the people I know had other children or went on to have other children and they were not conflicted over whether they were still mothers and fathers. Penny’s quilt is very powerful and thought-provoking. The idea of a “pretty” front side of the quilt and the harsh truth on the back is an amazing metaphor for the agony that people may be carrying inside. I personally think she is still a mother, but I can understand why that is a difficult label.
Abby, thanks for the article – I am not a Mom but I have seen friends who have had to bury their child and I know many women around the world can relate to the message on this quilt. So much suffering is done in quiet and others don’t/can’t understand – I believe this quilt reminds us to continue loving on those bereaved. Our lives go on but theirs have changed forever. Penny, my condolences.
I was once told that God gives us the gift of a child, but He never says how long we get to have them. I think about that often, it doesn’t make it any easier, but it does help me to realize that He is in charge and I did nothing wrong.
When a parent passes, you are still their daughter. So, you are still your sons mother. No one can take that away.
Abby, a great article to be the first of what I hope is many.
This was one of the most moving quilts I have ever seen. As a mother, it broke my heart. As an artist, it made me think of all the ways we communicate through words, color, and graphic imagery. As a quilter, it made me proud that someone could take their pain and transform it into a tangible representation through cloth. Thank you for sharing it once again.
Abby as always your articles have so much interest in them, I have not got the magazine yet, but I am going to get it, Penny as a mother I feel your pain, even when you miss carry you feel the pain of loss, know words will heal what was taken from you, but I hope knowing he is with GOD gives you some peace. God gave you the title of mother and know one can take that away from you, we don’t understand why these thing happen, we only know that GOD seems to take the good ones young, I have not lost a child I haled in my arms, but then I have because even thou I did not give birth to a child, it tore a hole right through my heart to learn that one of the boys I helped raise took his own life at 25 yrs old, I clasped right were I stud, so I no that pain, oh how I know it, you were blessed as a mother and always will be a mother. may GOD bless your life and may he show you what he has in mind for you.