Last month I took a trip down to Long Island to say goodbye to an amazing man…a man who I loved dearly because of his enthusiasm for life and for family. A man who has known me at every stage of my life-Grandpa.
I have some great memories of him when I was a kid, but I feel fortunate to have also known him as an adult. Below is an excerpt from a letter I wrote for his 90th birthday:
As I grew older, I began to appreciate other qualities in you besides the funny
silly grandpa I loved as a kid. You were genuinely interested in my life. You
toured RIT campus the summer before I started college and then toured it
again once I started working there full time. You wanted to check out every
little thing, and I was proud to show you around.
The way you cared for Grandma and devoted your life to her has made
a lasting impression on me. You truly kept your vows of “for better
or worse, in sickness or in health, till death do us part.” There are
not many examples of that kind of love and devotion, so I treasure
memories of the two of you together. When I was a newlywed, I asked
how long you had been married. I can’t remember the exact number,
but it was over 40 years. I couldn’t imagine being married for more
than my lifetime, but you quickly added, “It only feels like 7 or 8 years
though.” Your outlook on life was always like that; looking for the best
in every person and every situation. I love that about you and want to
be like you.
After the funeral, my aunts, uncles, cousins all went back to his house. It may be the last time I’ll step foot in that house, so I wanted to look at everything. Old pictures, his old ties, furniture, wooden building blocks….nothing has changed in there for 25 years. I opened up a drawer in the guest room and found an old blanket. When I pulled it out, I was surprised to find a gorgeous pinwheel quilt. I love quilts, but had never seen this one.
It reeked. REEKED of mothballs.
I asked my aunt to consider me when they decided what to do with it, and she told me to take it right away if I liked it. BOY DO I LIKE IT!
I washed it 3 times on delicate cycle before it smelled nice enough to inspect. I noticed that it is hand quilted, which is a huge endeavor. It is not perfectly made because many of the corners do not line up correctly. (just like any quilt I’ve made!) It appears to be OLD. It is threadbare in several places, about 10 seams have come apart and there is some kind of “fabric Band-Aid” covering up one of the threadbare places. There are 2 squares that have a blue fabric for the background instead of the white muslin. I find it very strange, and wonder if there is some meaning behind that.
I know for certain that my Grandma did not make it. My aunt said the quilt was always folded up on a shelf when she was a kid. I’m crazy about the pinwheel pattern and all the different fabric colors.
I’m thrilled to have a hand quilted blanket to display on my quilt rack in my room.
I’m happy to have something of my Grandmas that I adore…I just wish I knew the story of its creation…..who carefully picked out the colorful scraps? Who cut them all and sewed them together as carefully as possible? Who snuggled under this blanket and fell asleep under its warmth?