Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Tribute

When you look at these faded, tattered and torn quilts, what do you see?
The other day I decided it was time to strip the beds of their winter blankets and quilts and get them washed and put away. The quilts where made by my Grandma Lena over 20 years ago. When I look at them I see love.  I am a little distressed to see the condition they are in. I can't bear to throw them away and as I mend them I feel very nostalgic. 

My Grandma and Grandpa lived on a farm in Minnesota.

We visited ever summer and always I looked forward to the visits. As I think about my Grandma, I'd like to think we are a lot  a like. She gardened, canned, made bread and seemed to live a simple life.  She also loved garage saling and couldn't drive past one without stopping.

baby quilt Grandma made for my first born - my Granddaughter uses it now.
Growing up, even on our yearly visits I was much to busy being a kid, exploring the farm, pasture and playing with my cousins to have time to sit and spend with "old people". It wasn't until I was an adult that I really listened to her and the stories and memories she had to share about her life. I wish I had listened more.

It seemed to me my Grandma was always happy. She was always humming, cooking and busy, busy. Running to visit sick friends or to take care of something at church. She sewed boxes and boxes of her quilts for the missions.  I can still hear her "Good morning" greeting as you came down the stairs to the smell of homemade venison sausage, eggs and toast. Oh, and the jam she would make. Always homemade, the most unique combinations and always delicious.

But the thing I remember the most about my Grandma was her attitude when it came time for her to move from the farm house she had raised all her kids in and move to an assisted living apartment next to the nursing home. I have worked in a nursing home and the one thing they stress is compassion for the people coming in to live  in the facility. They are leaving all their belongings behind, their homes, their freedom and can often become depressed. I shouldn't have been surprised when my Grandma, being her normal cheerful self  moved to her tiny new home with joy in her heart and a smile on her face. I couldn't imagine leaving the house I'd raised all my children in. I would have thought it to be so hard. Not for her. You see, she was storing up her treasures in heaven and not on earth. This was a life changing lesson for me. Ah, but that is a post for another time.

As I sat mending and trying to patch the tired quilt my Grandma loving made with her own hands, I am sure she would have been shaking her head, telling me to just throw it away.  She made my boys each quilts for their twin beds years ago. One had a hole it in it and I should have fixed it right away but procrastinated. Well, they thought it was great fun to rip the hole wider, climb into the quilt and hop around the room. Needless to say when they were done playing there wasn't much left of the quilts. I recall being very upset with them, they of course didn't understand. In their minds the quilt was ruined anyway and we did ultimately throw the quilts away but now I long to have them back. 

I thought about packing the quilts away after they were mended, washed and dried so no more damage could be done. But alas, our king size quilt is back on our bed where it belongs.

Now it won't be long and my youngest will once again have a Grandma Lena quilt to Adorne her bed. My Grandma left this quilt unfinished and my mother is finishing it for Anna. Anna never met her Grandma Lena, but I think she will see a lot of her in my mother. My children are all very blessed to have both sets of Grandparents living within 10 minutes of us. I hope they won't wait until its too late to listen to their stories and get to know them as people and not just Grandparents.

We are also blessed to have beautiful quilts made by Bill's Grandma and my own mother. Perhaps I will share them another time.

~ Remember your Grandparents fondly and if you are blessed to still have them with you ~ listen to them!



  1. Lovely story and memories; thank you. My quilts, blankets and throws are draped over the upstairs banister where they can be seen and appreciated daily. Sometimes, even used for a nap!

  2. wonderful story Kathy! I LOVE are so lucky to have some from your own grandma!

  3. I do remember your grandmother...she always had a smile and such enthusiasm for life. I have many fond memories of time spent at her house. What a beautiful tribute to her. Julie

  4. Sitting at the computer crying right now Kathy.....
    What a beautiful tribute to Grandma! I am sure she loves watching you......and would be so touched by this and so proud of you & all you do! She was pretty incredible wasnt she? I often, wish that I could have her back for even just a day!
    Really, really touching Kathy!