“It’s not coming together,” Mom fusses,
ripping out stitches of the appliqué.
“Don’t know why I’m having trouble.”
“May I help?” I ask.
“No, no,” she answers briskly.
“After ten of these I should know what I’m doing.”

Mom is in her 90’s, hands shaky,
eyes seeing only periphery.
Quilting’s been her passion, comfort, pride;
Sunbonnet Sue her specialty in county fairs.
Now she stitches and rips out, impatient
with the scraps of life’s gingham.

She may never finish. Just as well.
My hands will need solace
when she’s gone.

– Sarah Russell
Photo courtesy of Etsy
For the “quilts” prompt at Real Toads

23 thoughts on “The Last Sunbonnet Sue

    1. Thanks so much, Margaret, for your kind words and saving this poem. My mother-in-law made Sunbonnet Sue’s for 3 of the 4 granddaughters she “inherited” when I married into the family, plus 7 more for her other granddaughters and great-granddaughters. This last one will be mine to finish, I’m afraid. It frustrates her so much that her eyesight has failed.

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  1. A fine quilt here of mother-to-daughter crafting, one hand failing, the other taking up the work. Sunbonnet Sue is such a fine crisp image of a family icon. With my aging parents I notice how frustrated they get that the spirit is still willing while the body weakens so.

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  2. I always loved the sunbonnet Sues. Such a sweet poem tinged with sadness at the prospect of your grandmother’s passing. Nope. My mom used to say that getting old was not for wimps. I love the last lines in this, even though they brought tears to my eyes, remembering my grandmother and my mother.

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      1. I would equate this to maple sugar – pure, rich, natural, sweet. And sometimes, being a tad too sweet is good for us. Gets into our hearts and winnows our souls. We need to get over ourselves thinking we must always be so serious (I am reminded of Heath Ledger as the Joker always positing, why so serious), must be so literal and logical, must always use fussy language. Give me maple sweet anyday!

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    1. Thanks, Kerry. My mother-in-law has “starred” in at least 6 of my poems. She is an Arkansas farm woman, tough, resourceful, very stubborn. She lives alone (at 94) on her 250 acre farm, where she has lived for 75 years. Refuses to move to be near her children, probably so that they will constantly worry about her. She has seen some of my poems, although she won’t call them poems since they don’t rhyme. 🙂

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