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A Kelburn Matriarch

March 5th, 2010 by the_lifer

Winona’s mother, Wilhelmina Wellington, is one of the Junoesque figures that make Wellington tick. She doesn’t know everyone, but it can seem like she does. Her puissant confidence usually browbeats anyone into awed compliance. Retired two years ago from the Ministry of Justice, she now volunteers at City Gallery, fundraises for Women’s Refuge, and focuses on her abstract quilting.

She is solidly glad that her youngest daughter is home from her OE at last. “I’ve got something for you,” she says, and gestures towards the kauri coffee table.

Wilhelmina has always done her best to be “fair” with her three daughters. Now that Winona is back, it is her turn to benefit from her mother’s new hobby.

Karin, her eldest daughter, got a quilt two years ago. She took the hand-dyed indigo reverse trapunto quilt her mother titled “Storm Mist” and hung it on the wall in her living room.

Chuffed by this success, Wilhelmina then gifted her middle child, Helena, with a similarly sized work, this time in black with orange and yellow rings. Wilhelmina is still prickly that this is banished to Helena’s spare room. “Helena always liked things pretty,” Wilhelmina grumbles, dismissively. (She forgets, when it suits her, that her ravishing Kelburn villa, packed with antiques and art, would win approval from William Morris.)

Winona unwraps a vast calico package and holds up her quilt. A blurred assemblage of red and burgundy, it is lovable for its warm colours alone. “Oh, Mummy, it’s gorgeous, we’ll never be cold now,” Winona squeals, but then she wails, “I wish we had a bedroom to put it in. But we still have to find a place.”

“We’re looking tomorrow. We don’t want to be a bother,” Will mumbles.

Wilhelmina says, briskly, “I don’t know what you’re so worried about. You just got here. Besides, you’ll find flats and jobs. Just get up in the morning and get the paper.”

Winona and Will exchange a look, but say nothing. It takes more resources than they can muster at the moment to remind Wilhelmina about the 21st century.

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