Cooler weather was here and with it I knew it was time to pull Grandma's quilt off the closet shelf. It had become a custom of mine to sit down each year and recall how this quilt came into being. This year was no exception.
I was ten or twelve when Mama called me into the master bedroom during one of her cleaning frenzies. There was a quilt top spread out on the bed.
"Carol, what do you think?" she asked as she pointed to the quilt top.
I didn't answer, but stood in amazement as I studied the blue, yellow, green, and pink blocks sewn together in a raucous design.
"Your grandma put this together just for you."
"But didn't grandma die before I was born?" I asked.
"Not that much before. She knew you were coming into this world and wanted to leave something special for you."
"I thought a quilt was supposed to be like a blanket or comforter," I said. "This is just blocks sewn together."
"She didn't have a chance to finish it. You'll have to sew a backing onto it."
"Do I have to do it now I asled.
"No, of course not," Mama said. "I'll put it back on the shelf until you're ready for it."
Days turned into years and the quilt top was almost forgotten. I was engaged to be married and in the midst of what seemed like a thousand plans when Mama pulled it off the shelf.
"You might want to work on Grandma's quilt so you'll have something nice for your bed."
My mind exploded with the possibilities. I selected a material with a blue flowery pattern on a white background and tacking of pink yarn. I had a problem though. The quilt would not be thick enough.
Mama always had good ideas so I went to her.
"What about that old electric blanket that caught fire on your bed several years ago?" she suggested.
I never did like that blanket after it caught fire when I scratched an itch through it in my sleep. I had tried long before to forget that incident. Still, I could take my revenge out on it and use it for filler I thought.
I worked feverishly over the next several weeks. I removed all of the wiring from the electric blanket with the exception of one stubborn connection. I decided to leave it as a reminder of that fire and what can happen in the moment of a scvratch.
I proudly showed Grandma's quilt to my new husband, Ray, after our wedding.
"Ah, a blanket's a blanket, is a blanket," he said. "I hope you don't intend to put that on our bed. It's pretty though in its own sort of way."
I was devastated. How could I make him understand how precious it was to me? Not knowing what else to do, I carefully folded this work of art and stored it in the closet.
Ray and I moved several times during our marriage. Each time I made sure Grandma's quilt was packed safely and securely. I felt that if it was left up to Ray, it would have been used for a furniture pad.
Years later, after Ray's death, I pulled the quilt off the shelf and put it on my bed. That must have been about twenty years ago now.
Today, as I study Grandma's handiwork, I still wonder at its design. It has aged just as I have over the years. There are a few tatters and a block or two coming loose, but when I consider its age, it's not surprising. It's seen lots of wear through the years. Grandma first learned of my coming arrival in 1937. It was in 1957 when I finished what she started. Today, in 2011, Grandma's quilt, with the electrical connection buried within it, still covers my bed. It reminds me of both the good and bad times we have seen together.