The best part about meeting Mrs Rickert wasn't the boxes and boxes of upholstery samples and hoarded fabrics that she was saving for me. It wasn't the amazing piecework quilts that she had made; the hand-painted plates mounted on her wall; or the awesome collection of enamel ware and well-seasoned furnishings in her inviting home. Although it was quite a treat to find the world's most gorgeous couch in her basement, along with a handmade hooked rug, an antique child's doll stroller, and a vintage cookstove. It was delightful to see the sunny room that she sewed in, the miniature antique child's sewing machine, the intricate quilt project made with colourful batiks.
But the best part about meeting Mrs Rickert was.... well.... meeting Mrs Rickert.
It lit up my day. It put a lot of spring into the longest winter Joyce has ever endured. It reminded me why living is such a great part about being alive. And by that, I don't mean simply breathing in and out for years on end, paying your bills on time, and getting the grass cut before the neighbours get snarly. I mean really living. Taking an honest look at what you are good at, what gets you going, and then getting out there and living it.
Mrs Rickert didn't really have time to quilt and collect and put together bags and blankets for all the people in her life until she was in her mid-fifties. She was busy being a widowed mommy by the age of 30. Raising three girls and three boys by her own grit, love, and determination with a grade five education. (That she raised to post secondary status while doing all that child-rearing by herself....)
Mrs Rickert got a second chance at love in her fifties; picnicking and kayaking with another love before she lost her second husband to cancer.
Was she living the life of a victemized, beaten down woman? Not Mrs Rickert. She was busy doing what she was good at- sewing and quilting and collecting and giving.
And when I had the privelege of meeting her, she gave me a whole lot more than boxes of fabric. She reminded me of the joy in living. The seed-planting that comes of loving people, even though there's pain in the loving of them. The richness of giving. Sharing. Hoping. Believing.
Yup, the best part of all was the chance to meet Mrs Rickert.