Common thread bound couple in wedded bliss
When Harry met Anna it was love at first sight … and they lived happily ever after.
If you think that sounds like the plot of a Hollywood movie, you’d be right. But I’m not talking about the 1989 romantic comedy starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. That was called “When Harry Met Sally.”
This storyline connects two real-life people, Harry and Anna Cox. Theirs is a testament to romance as heartwarming as any make-believe tale. Though I’m sure their wedded life together raising five children had the usual thorns along with its roses, the Coxes found a common thread from the start that pulled them together through their nearly 68 years of marriage.
As a young couple, Harry and Anna first met in Rhode Island while he was serving in the Navy. They soon discovered a shared enjoyment of embroidery, a needlework skill both had learned as young children.
During their wartime courtship, the pair spent much of their time stitching, perhaps on the proverbial front porch.
(My, how times have changed. I can’t fathom a typical date these days revolving around embroidery floss and a wooden hoop.)
In anticipation of their marriage, Harry and Anna embroidered a tablecloth for their first home together.
His mother also taught Harry to quilt when he was a little boy, and he, in turn, showed his wife those techniques.
From then on, a quilt in progress in an old-fashioned wooden frame was a familiar sight in their house, even more so after Harry retired. He’d been a farmer in the De Beque area and worked on the railroad to supplement their income. Later, the Coxes lived and quilted together in Fruita for 20 years.
In addition to their grown kids, the couple’s seven grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren have been the recipients of many embroidered, bed-sized quilts. What a legacy they’ve been given.
Harry hand-quilted his last quilt when he was 87 years old and finished his final 12 embroidered quilt blocks at 88 and 89. He died last June at age 90.
Recently, the blocks were pieced into a beautiful lavender bed quilt and machine-quilted by their niece, Sandra Pyeatt Roger of Cortez. It’s titled “Creation of Love” and was his gift to Anna, 89.
“I kind of nudged him to finish the (embroidered) blocks,” says Anna, who lives at the Mesa View Retirement Residence in Grand Junction. She felt it gave her husband a purpose in those last days.
She promised Harry that she’d make sure the quilt was completed, and Anna is pleased to have fulfilled that commitment.
Although her eyesight is nearly gone from macular degeneration and she’s no longer able to enjoy their favorite pastime, Anna smiles at the memories.
On one quilt titled “The Home Place,” large cross-stitches form the pattern. Anna says she stitched half, and Harry embroidered the other. As for the quilting stitches, “we just kind of dreamed up the design.”
If the embroidery patterns, usually pre-stamped from the Mary Maxim company, called for French knots, Anna says she made all of those, because Harry was not fond of that stitch. When quilting together, each had a separate favorite thimble. Often they watched television as they stitched.
Anna was 8 years old when her mother taught her embroidery, and she decorated many dresser scarves and pillowcases with her fancy work.
Harry was a spoiled child, she says, and his mother insisted he learn needlework to keep him busy. Little did Harry’s mother know that she gave her son a lifelong joy and one of the secrets to a happily-ever-after marriage.
I was invited on Valentine’s Day to visit Anna and see their quilts at her retirement home. After our visit, I stood to leave, when Anna said, “When I say my prayers, I’ll tell Harry his picture was in the paper, even though he’s not here to see it.”
Tears welled up in my eyes as I closed her door behind me.
Email Sherida.Warner@ GJSentinel.com.