I always knew she loved me. I could tell by the pictures in our family album. In one she is brushing my hair in a little boys style. In another she is feeding me a triangle of buttered toast. But my all time favorite picture is of my great grandmother Nell sitting in her favorite black leather chair with me in her arms. The look on her face says it all. She was blissfully in love with me.
I do not remember my ‘Grandma Nell’. I only knew her when I was a baby. She died when I was 2 years old. But my mother always told me how much she loved me from the day I was born. Grandma Nell rarely let anyone hold me and I was constantly in her loving arms. I loved her from the pictures and the stories. And even from her black leather chair. My mother held onto it for years and years. I use to sit in it and watch cartoons as a child. And as a teenager I used to study in it. Quite often I would find myself running my fingers over the aged and cracked fabric while remembering the woman I barely knew but painfully loved.
It was not until I went off to college that I became separated from the chair. It sounds silly I know but it was my only connection to my Grandma Nell. And then one weekend I came home and the chair was gone. My mother was tired of looking at it and called it an “eye-sore”. I was heartbroken and never could bring myself to forgive her for throwing it away. The least she could have done was to cut off a square of the fabric so that I would at least have a scrap of it to hold. But she didn’t.
I would become a mother 3 times over before a piece of my Grandma Nell’s love would unexpectedly enter my life again. I received a call from a beloved Aunt who said she had found an unfinished quilt that my Grandma Nell had sewn by hand in the 1930’s. It was in mint condition. Although there were a couple drops of my Grandmother’s blood from where she pricked herself while sewing. Besides that, it was missing was the batting and muslin. My Aunt gave me the quilt. It was stunningly beautiful and created in a ‘Gardener’s Circle’ pattern. I found that little piece of info out at my local fabric store. I took the quilt in and told the story of how my Grandma Nell created it in the 1930’s during ‘The Great Depression’. She had somehow managed to gather the fabric and quilt during the most difficult of times. I had about a dozen women ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ over my quilt in the center of the fabric store. One lady even whipped out her checkbook and offered me $1000 to buy it from me on the spot. I gave her my apologies and assured her that it was not for sale. I bought the batting and the edging in a beautiful emerald green. I left the store and came home where I packed the unfinished quilt and the supplies away in a heavy oak chest. I am not going to sew it now. Rather I am going to wait until my 6 year-old daughter grows up so that we can finish the quilt together while sharing memories old and new. I only pray that we finish it before her wedding day so that my Grandma Nell’s legacy will go on from one generation to the next.