A few nights ago, as I crawled into bed I reached for a small book I received for Christmas entitled, What Would Jane Do?. It is a book of quotes from Jane Austen's best known books. She is one of my favorite authors. Like many of her readers, I have fallen in love with Mr. Darcy! I had gone to bed early, exhausted from a day that was too short. I was grumpy and knew that it was best to retire early.
I had just had an argument with my husband about world affairs and so looking at my book just before falling asleep, I pondered more than read, What Would Jane Do? It was clear, I thought that Jane (McMillen) should have married the fictional character Mr. Darcy instead of her husband, but then my mind wandered to thoughts of what I would do if I was in charge of the world. My thoughts weren't unlike Doctor Zuess's thoughts in his book, If I Ran the Zoo. I was again annoyed with being a mere mortal and I wished at that moment to have great powers to alter what is happening in the world.
My friend who wanted a quilted wall hanging, is an old high school acquaintance from a half a century ago now. We became reacquainted over the internet, exchanging superficial greetings through a mutual friend of ours, and found that we both had "health issues" in common. His wife was sick with Chronic Fatigue/ Fibromyalgia and I had similar symptoms with Chronic Lyme Disease. We compared notes and offered each other sympathy. Soon after that, his wife developed Stage Four Lung Cancer and died less than a year later. I supported my friend as best as I could through emails during his tragic loss.
He asked that I make him a wall hanging and found a picture in one of my Japanese quilt books when he and his friend were visiting me this summer. It was a picture of a quilted border of a Japanese quilt, and was anything but inspiring to me until I noted that it appeared to be a mountain with a sun, albeit turned sideways and so dark and dreary that it was anything but recognizable. My friend is more complex than me and appreciated the abstract, whereas I am more concrete and simple. His world is full of sadness and loss, where I seem to live in an unreal Pollyanna world where my delusions seem to keep me falsely and nauseatingly too optimistic!
My Japanese Daiwabo taupe materials aren't bright and cheery but are very rich and appealing, and it was from this stash that my friend picked out some fat quarters to make his wall hanging. He chose a dull yellow-gold/orange-ish colored print, a deep burgundy print and a dull green-brown nubby material along with a similar dark brown nubby fabric. His choices were too dark for me and it took me quite a while to warm up to this project. Fortunately he was in no hurry. I had warned him that I had to finish my year of craft sales and that I would likely start it in January.
What would Jane do with the pattern and material that my friend had chosen, I ask? She would embrace the task at hand and do the best she could, I resoundly answered.... And that is what I am in the process of doing. True to my Pollyanna self, however, I needed to brighten the mountain and add the sun's reflection on it, just as I wanted to brighten my friend's life. Suffering from the loss of his wife who was truly the sunshine of his life, I added, with his permission, a variety of other taupe fabrics in hopes of adding more color, texture and interest to this work. As I did, I reflected how I had wanted to encourage him to open himself up to new people and life following his wife's death.
As my friend placed a serious confidence in me when I was supporting him, I felt it now my turn to stitch this piece for him with equal seriousness. It was with my delusional Pollyanna-Jane thoughts that I am stitching his own personal mountain (though it looks more like a house), and adding sunshine. That is after all "what (Pollyanna) Jane would do" to brighten his life?