Thank You for Those Flowers

Mary Ann Pettway working on her latest quilt.  Florine
Mary Ann Pettway working on her latest quilt at the Gee’s Bend Collective.  And her friend and fellow quilter Florine Smith..

I came back from Gee’s Bend, Alabama two weeks ago, and I’m still waking up with Mary Ann’s favorite song in my head.  I don’t want nobody to praise me when I’m gone, bring me my flowers while I yet live.  I sing it over and over, in my head, sometimes out loud, sometimes even Jon joins in.

Mary Ann and some of the other quilters sing in their church choirs and when they started traveling around to different Art Museums and Art Centers, they will often sing at the receptions.  There are lots of videos of the on YouTube.

This song says so much about who Mary Ann is and how she lives her life.  Like so many of the other women I met at Gee’s Bend, despite the hardships they have endured, including poverty and racism, they are not bitter and angry but grateful for what they have now.

I don’t remember exactly what the compliment was that I gave  Mary Ann in her kitchen one night when we were sewing, but she stopped what she was doing and said to me “Thank you for those flowers.”  It’s not just a song to Mary Ann, it’s a way of life.

Mary Ann Pettway leading the other Gee’s Bend women in Give Me My Flowers at the 2008 Democratic Convention. (you can see Florine singing here too)

6 thoughts on “Thank You for Those Flowers

  1. I enjoy your blog & especially the Gees Bends story. I live in Georgia & someday must get over there to visit this place. Your work is creative & artistic, & you are an encourager to women! Loved this singing. Mary Ann in GA.

  2. Oh I love this singing!! I sing off and on all day, too. BUT I SURE DON’T EVER WANT IT ON U-TUBE!! I love the intricate, modern design that Mary Ann is working on in this pic. Annie

  3. Maria, I LOVE YOU!! I CAN’T CARRY A TUNE IN A BUCKET!! you are so special in so many ways!! Annie

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