Growing up Grandma Mary and I spent every afternoon after school together and during the summer I lived as much at her house as I did my own. Grandma Mary was my dad’s mother and when he passed away when I was just eleven months old she and my mother became a parenting team. Grandpa Jack passed several years before I was born so she and Mom were two widows who took their difficult circumstances by the lapels and held on for dear life.
With Mom holding a full time job Grandma and I spent a lot of time together. During the summer days and after school during the school year Grandma taught me to cook, bake, sew, quilt, garden, and keep house. Mom was my tutor and taught me how to play the piano. Both of them taught me how to play Hearts.
When I reached the dating years no one in particular kept my interest and Mom began to worry that the lack of steady dates was due to the lack of having a father in our home. Grandma Mary would simply kiss my forehead and tell Mom and I both that when the right man came along God would let me know and until then, as long as I honored God with my dating life, she was sure He had His reasons for leaving me single.
College days came and went and by the time I turned 30 I figured God’s plan for my life were as Paul recommended, I was to remain single so I simply left it up to God and focused on my career in Christian radio. I still had plenty of opportunities to date but I didn’t feel as “need to” in that area anymore. Though I no longer lived at home with Mom and Grandma Mary when she passed away it was as if I were a little girl all over again.
Grandma Mary was diagnosed with cancer just after I finished college and the end came swiftly. When Mom and I were cleaning out her house we found a box marked with my name on it in the sewing room. Mom seemed to know about the box and the contents, I could tell by the way she handed it to me before she spoke, “Honey, Grandma wanted you to have this. Do you want me to leave you alone to open it?”
It seemed foolish to not open a gift from Grandma with my Mom, so we opened it together. Inside was a quilt. Not just any quilt but one that Grandma had made incorporating the one she’d made me as a child. It had material from my favorite clothes as well as from my Dad, Mom and Grandma & Grandpa’s. The pattern had advised selecting contrasting or complimentary colors but Grandma often had her own ideas about colors. Some of the squares were made with patterns and colors you’d expect to see together and some of weren’t.
Now Grandma had turned the single bed sized quilt from my girlhood into a double sized quilt by using material from my favorite clothes from high school and college, including blue jeans and tee-shirts. It seemed like every hue and pattern that could be put together had found their way into my quilt. Mom and I laughed through tears as we recognized the clothing the quilt had come from. Each square full of memories, some funny, some sad, some memorable due to the lessons I’d learned when a particular piece was from a shirt or pair of jeans I had loved at that time.
When I took my “crazy quilt” home and put it on my bed it felt as if Grandma Mary was standing right there beside me smoothing out the wrinkles along with me. Many nights I would fall asleep the quilt having dried my tears. It saw me through a couple “almost” relationships and when Todd came along my crazy quilt was a way to share my past with him. We cuddled beneath it while watching movies from my sofa and took it with us on romantic picnics in the park and to the beach.
Todd asked me to marry him when I was sick with the flu on Valentine’s Day, wrapped in Grandma Mary’s crazy quilt with a fever of 102 degrees because he’d waited long enough and couldn’t wait until I was feeling well and able to look “presentable”. With my Mom’s help and after I asked Todd’s mother if she had any clothing that Todd had worn earlier in his life and she’d given me a variety of “men” color and patterned clothing – including Superman pj’s, and football jerseys – we turned the double bed sized quilt into a queen sized bed quilt that we used from the beginning of our lives together as man and wife.
In those first few months of married life I never thought of Grandma’s quilt teaching me more lessons on love, forgiving and endurance but it did.
To be continued….