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Wet Goose Feathers: A Link of Love

My house smells like a wet goose.

For the past two weeks, my husband and I have been trying to dry out a wet, goose-down pillow. It was made by my husband’s great-grandmother long before he was born. She plucked the feathers off of an unknown number of geese, stuffed them in a pillow she had made and sewed it up. The pillow has passed down three generations now.

For years my husband used this pillow even though it was a bit hard and bumpy. When he finally moved to a new pillow, the goose feather pillow went into storage. He found it a couple of weeks ago and decided it needed to be washed. In the past two weeks, the pillow has been washed, left on a rack to dry for over a week (no luck), re-washed, put in our dryer (that was NOT a good sound), put in a professional dryer at a laundry mat, and…it was still wet. Fifteen pounds of wet feathers (yes, I weighed it).  So two days ago I began trying to dry it in front of our fire. And it is slowly working! I turn it over, beat on it, and switch it around about every 15 minutes (after I nearly let it catch fire the first day). All of this for a pillow none of us will likely ever use. But his great grandmother made it with her own hands and lots of hard work, so we are happy to do what it takes to preserve this gift, this tie to his past.

I have been thinking a lot about the woman who made this pillow. I never met her, only heard stories. Yet here is tangible proof she was here; she was a hard worker; she knew how to take care of her family.  When she was making the pillow was she thinking of us? I look around our home at many links to our past- handmade quilts and Christmas ornaments, a cast iron skillet and family recipes, inscribed books and black-and-white photos. 

What, I wonder, have I made that will outlast me? Will there be something that reminds a future great-grandchild of me years from now?  I rather hope so. My outlook on things has changed a bit this week in caring for the goose-down pillow. Now as I use Granny’s skillet, dust old family photos, and sleep under Mom’s quilt, I will not only think back, but also forward. We are tied through the generations by lasting gifts of love.