I had a long and happy relationship with my spouse's mother, my dear mother-in-law, Hazel. She was a sweet and talented lady. She loved gardening, canning, sewing, quilting, crocheting, and her cats. After she passed on November 16, 2007, we learned she had left instructions that her handmade quilts were to be distributed among her loved ones. I had always hoped she would see fit to bless me with one of her creations, but it's not something I would ever have assumed or for which I would have asked. She had made many things for my family and me through the years, including items for our home and clothes for our daughter. She had presented us with a beautiful Double Wedding Ring quilt as a marriage gift and a darling baby quilt with elephants on it was given at our daughter's birth. Each quilt had been made with pieces of fabric saved from years of sewing for her family and we recognized many of them. Both quilts are treasures to us and will always remain in our family.
Hazel had made a list of who was to receive which of her quilts and my gift was to be a sunflower quilt which I think had been her last quilting endeavor. I remember that she showed it to me while it was in progress. Upon its completion, she proudly displayed it on her bed. When I learned it was to be mine, I was truly happy she had remembered me and I imagined since I had been very complimentary about the quilt, she must have thought it was one of my favorites. But secretly, I had wished for an older quilt we had discovered as we carefully folded all the quits and stored them for safe keeping until they could be presented to the assigned family members. I wanted to ask my sister-in-law if I might exchange the Sunflower quilt for the Grandmother's Flower Garden one, and I mentioned it to my spouse. But then I felt ashamed for having said anything at all, since I was afraid I had sounded ungrateful.
Actually, I was extremely grateful and felt very blessed to have been remembered, but that older quilt was on my mind and my spouse knew it. One day when he was talking to his sister, to whom the quilt list had been given, he tactfully approached the subject of switching the quilts and mentioned if the older one had been "assigned" to someone else, that was perfectly fine. He assured his sister that I was honored to have any quilt their mom had made, but he told her that I truly loved the older one and thought it would look perfect on the antique bed in our guest room. His sister was completely open to switching the quilts and said, "Mom would have wanted her to have the one she wanted".
During that conversation with his sister, my spouse learned the history of that beautiful old quilt. It had been pieced together by his grandmother and quilted by his mother, as a joint project of sorts. That made it even more of a treasure to us! He also learned that his mother had most likely assumed no one would want the old one, so she hadn't assigned that particular quilt to anyone. I was shocked. That vintage quilt is such a treasure to me and to my family. I have visions of my spouse's grandmother (called Mammy by her family) and his mother sitting together in Mammy's little country house, working on that quilt. I imagine conversations they might have had and wonder what their lives were like back then. I'd like to know how they decided to make the Grandmother's Flower garden pattern, but I'll never know and it doesn't really matter.
One thing is sure. I will always love this quilt and honor the two talented women who made it. They cared deeply for their families and left wonderful handmade treasures by which they will always be remembered.