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Grandpa’s Quilt of Love and Laughter

Today is one of those February gray days when I feel slightly gray myself. A bit depressed for little reasons that I will not bore you with, but as I sit to write, the good Lord gave me a story, which immediately tuned my gray soul to warm.

Remembering my grandmother, aka Grandpa, usually does the trick, so I am not at all surprised. She could be humorous without trying and could say or do something that would give you an enduring smile.

At the bottom of her cedar hope chest was an old pieced quilt that was not quite finished. All it needed was quilting, but the top was hand-stitched with tiny pieces of folded men’s clothing material. Old ties, shirts, and suiting were cut in strips no wider than a half-inch, forming an utterly stunning log cabin design.

“Well, shoot, I reckon I should just throw this old thing away.” Grandpa declared as she held it up for mom and me to view.

“Mama, did you make that beauty?” My mother questioned as my mouth refused to close to ask anything. The intricacy of this work of art left me speechless.

“No, I didn’t stitch it, I bought it at a flea market a long time ago for fifty cents. I kept thinkin’ I would quilt it ‘cause I thought it was kinda pretty, but I never did; sure is a waste of half-dollar though.”

When I was able to finally speak, “Grandpa, if you are going to throw it away, may I have it?”

“What do you want this old trashy thing for, honey?” She responded.

“It would make a lovely wall hanging, like a tapestry.” I answered.

Mother agreed, but Grandpa was still shaking her head as I carefully folded it and put it into a plastic bag.

A few years passed, and when I moved into a new home, I finally had a wall in my living room to hang Grandpa’s trashy quilt. It was perfect, mixed with my antiques and family treasures.

After I was settled, the group came from Tennessee to Georgia for a visit and see the new house.

It was lovely to spend time with Grandpa, my mother, my mother’s sister, Mary Ruth, and Aunt Helen.  By the time we sat in the living room, my cheeks were already sore from the laughter.

They were the best of the best, the cream of the crop, and I adored each one.

When the Good Lord put me amid these delightful girls, it was a gift I never took for granted.

As we sat around the room, I noticed most of them were staring at the old log cabin quilt as it proudly dominated the room.

“Where did you find such a pretty quilt?” Mary Ruth asked.

Grandpa remained silent.

“What is that made out of, it’s so unusual.” Aunt Helen asked.

Grandpa remained silent.

Mama chimed in, “I saw in a magazine the other day, a quilt just like that one was going for over $100,000.” She then pulled out the magazine page she had saved to show the group.

Grandpa remained silent.

“Well, shoot.” Grandpa finally shouted. “I reckon I should have bought the other one. They were two for a dollar, but I didn’t want to spend another fifty cents.”

While she was confessing to keeping the quilt in the bottom of the hope chest, getting ready to throw it in the trash, and could have purchased another priceless beauty for fifty cents, I was already curled on the floor in laughter.

We teased her about that half-dollar until the day she died. And, I believe Mary Ruth and Helen were still miffed they didn’t have first dibs on the trashy quilt until they both passed away years later.

The antique quilt now hangs over the rail at the top of my upper stairwell. Folks walk through my door and spy it above them, but they don’t see what beauty lies in between tiny stitches and funny stories.  Those memories are made just for me to hold in my heart, to chase cold gray days away, and to remember the priceless souls who still bring me blessings every day.

Is the quilt worth 100,000 dollars today? No, it is worth far, far more.