Friday, March 14, 2008

Mrs. Harada

This post may be long but I want to tell you about our very good friend and the farewell party we held for her today.

Mrs. Harada has been a good friend for many, many years and she has played an especially important part in our patchwork group. She is quiet and delicate and sensitive to things around her and to people's feelings. She does everything wholeheartedly and I have never seen her "let it all hang out". Always gentle, always caring, always helping. Mrs. Harada lives just around the corner from Mrs. Furui and daily she is in and out of Mrs. Furui's house. The two of them are very close and Mrs. Furui has mentored Mrs. Harada in patchwork, quilting, embroidery and sewing. When Mrs. Harada isn't sewing with us, she is helping at the kindergarten and is invaluable there too.

Less than a month ago Mrs. Harada called me and apologized profusely because she was moving to another prefecture and hadn't told me (or anyone else except for Mrs. Furui) about her plans. Well, this really was a surprise and my first thought was,

"Well, there goest the patchwork group. If Mrs. Harada isn't there we aren't going to be making any more quilts."

She is that important to us. Always taking home more homework than the rest of us, always accepting other people's half-done blocks to free them up for something else. Half of every quilt we make is made by Mrs. Harada's hands.

A couple days after Mrs. Harada's announcement to me, Mrs. Furui cornered me at the kindergarten and handed me a template and instructions on making a friendship block for Mrs. Harada. Great idea! But is there enough time? No matter, let's see what we can get done before Mrs. Harada moves. Spread the word to Mrs. Harada's friends that we need friendship blocks made and if possible, more than two so that we can include other non-sewing friends so that they can just sign a ready-made block.

You should see our group spring to action when called forward! 28 blocks were quickly made and then divied out to people who wanted to sign their names. We said sign, but as it turned out every block ended up being embroidered and what a beautiful array we collected!

Of course all this work was being done on the sly without letting Mrs. Harada know what was going on. That was the hard part. We'd all be together for a patchwork day and Mrs. Harada would run back to her house to get something and the minute the door closed the rest of us would pull blocks from our bags and lay them out to see how many more we needed or what colors might still be incorporated. We'd hear Mrs. Harada step back in the front door and everything would be stuffed behind boxes or even sat upon! Such fun!

Once the blocks were all collected, what to do about the off-set blocks and borders? Mrs. Furui asked Mrs. Harada to accompany her to the fabric store to get some fabric for a "niece's quilt".

"Mrs. Harada, what do you think about this fabric. Do you think my niece might like the green or the purple?"

"Oh, I just love the green. I'm sure she'd like it. And look how nice this fabric goes with it!"

("AL~RIGHT! Two fabrics chosen!") Mrs. Furui is very clever.

Earlier this week we were running short of time so Mrs. Ochiai and Mrs. Furui spent the whole day cutting blocks, sewing strips and tracing the quilting lines onto the quilt. Yesterday another completely full day of sewing with Mrs. Harada conveniently kept busy at the kindergarten all day. (The kindergarten secretary was given instructions not to let Mrs. Harada loose too early!) Mrs. Harada was told that we were working on the bazaar quilt but in reality we spent the time attaching borders and making a label!

This morning we arranged to have Mrs. Harada come to Mrs. Furui's by 12:00 for a farewell luncheon. Of course the rest of us were there by 10:00 still basting the quilt sandwich together! 10 minutes before Mrs. Harada showed up we had barely finished and the quilt was laid out on the floor ready to greet her.

"Mrs. Harada, we worked hard yesterday while you were at the kindergarten. Take a look."

As expected, Mrs. Harada sort of froze and then dissolved into tears.

"Don't get too choked up. We saved the hardest part for you. YOU get to do all the quilting and we traced some pretty complicated designs! This will keep you busy for the next few months and you may not think of us all so fondly!"

What a wonderful friend we've been blessed with and we are going to miss her terribly.

Much love to you Mrs. Harada!


kate said...

What a lovely story!

You call them all Mrs. and in my mind I pictured all of these women as quite a bit older than you with gray hair! I'm so glad you put in the group're all SO young!

Thanx again for sharing this sweet story.

Shelina said...

It is a pretty quilt, and you were all so clever with hiding it from her, and choosing the fabric.

Goodbye Mrs. Harada - we in blogland will miss you too! We have enjoyed seeing your handiwork.

Elaine Adair said...

Oh fun, fun -- I was almost 'with you' hiding the blocks, talking about the quilt as she went out the door. This is a dear story of how loving women are. Happy Day - it has brightened MY day just hearing about it.

AJ said...

Beautiful quilt and such a wonderful story.

artfilstitch said...

Dear Tanya,
I have tears as I read your story. This is true friendship. I love the quilt that you and your friends have so cleverly pulled off.
Happy Birthday Mrs. Harada and enjoy your new home.

andsewitis Holly said...

Wow! Wonderful story, quilt and friends.

Marilyn R said...

What a wonderful story about friendship. I'm with Kate - the Mrs. title made me think they were older too - guess that shows another difference between Japan and USA - at least in my way of thinking!

CONNIE W said...

What a terrific group of women and what a beautiful quilt to gift her. Really VERY special.

Denise (Nour) said...

Very heart-warming story! Beautiful quilt!

meggie said...

What a lovely story, & what a lovely bunch of ladies you are!
No wonder she cried.