Grandma’s Legacy by Mildred Grant

“The mail has come, Val. Do you want to go out and get it?” I called.

Val and Pam dropped their sand shovels and raced to the mail box at the end of our   drive.  I called again, “You dropped a small one, Pam.”

The children came in the back door, placing various sized envelopes, magazines, and pamphlets on the kitchen table. As I went through them, some of it I knew would be thrown in the circular file. Two bills would go on Fred’s new desk. The last letter was for me from my Aunt Aline. Anxiously slitting the envelope with my paring knife, I quickly scanned her message. Nothing too serious, so I settled down in a kitchen chair to give her note a more. thorough reading.

Seems her Mother, my Grandmother, had started making a quilt. No one could remember when she started the project or the possible recipient. No one could remember seeing her working on it. No name for the pattern could be found, but I remembered Grandma’s head was crammed with wonderfully original ideas, so the “no name” pattern wasn’t a surprise to me. Aunt Aline wrote that there were enough squares all made for a double bed sized quilt with enough fabric to make additional squares for a larger quilt, if needed. Embroidery thread was included so that all the squares would match. My Aunt had offered the project to her daughter, Jean, but she refused, as horses were one of her creative outlets. Not needles and thread. Did I want to take on the project? Oh, my! Yes,yes,yes!

Quickly I gathered up pen, note paper, and stamp. A quick look at the clock told me there might be just enough time to catch the mailman on his way back up our street. Hastily written, but adequately expressing my gratitude and love, the note was ready.

“Girls,” I called, “Has Mr. Phil gone back up Pickett Lane?”

Val and Pam ran back out to the end of our driveway, again.

“He’s coming now, Mom.”

Dashing out to the street, I flagged down our most pleasant and accommodating postman, Mr. Phil.

“Someone down the street kept you chatting just long enough for me to get this note ready,” I said “Thank you.”

Now, the long wait for the package to arrive.

Grandma Dimond thoroughly disliked her given and middle names, Julia and Etta, finally settling on Etta as the lesser of the two evils. She was a short, plump, bespectacled, sweet-faced lady with iron-gray hair, worn in a “pug” She was a very talented seamstress, taking apart “hand-me-downs”, cleaning them, and putting them back together for me and my two sisters. Evidences of her handiwork were everywhere in her Montague City home. From oil paintings to rolled wallpaper portieres, and hand painted furniture. She was always eager to try a new craft idea as well as being an excellent cook and a very neat housekeeper.

Waiting–not my favorite game, but everyday living with it’s usual ups and downs, finally brought the day when Val struggled through the door bearing “the” box from Aunt Aline.

Wanting to rip into it myself, I asked my girls, “Do you want to open it?”

No further invitation was necessary. Paper, string, tape and box cover went flying. Val took one look at the contents and promptly went back to the sandbox. Pam, liking the many bright colors in the squares, stayed a bit longer, but not by much. All to myself, I discovered stacks of squares, each one with alternate, appliqued, bright pink and aqua pie-shaped pieces in each corner. A generous sprinkling of French Knots in the center of four opposing tear drop shaped pieces—all put down on muslin with black embroidery thread done in blanket stitch. There’s fabric from an apron Grandma used to wear. My new school dress is represented. The one I loved with orange flowers and the latest style for little girls, bloomers that were supposed to show below the hem of the dress. So many memories!

I put the squares together, using one to embroider Grandma’s full name, birth and death dates.

Some of the black embroidery thread has deteriorated and needs to be replaced. Once that job is completed it will be given to The Museum at Deerfield, with full documentation, where it will be on display .When that happens, I can just imagine Grandma asking, “Did you have to put Julia in there?”

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