I can say with complete confidence that no matter what happens or how many quilts pass through this house, this quilt will always be my favorite.
When I was little, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, Nana D. She taught me a lot of what I know about creating things out of what seems like nothing. She mothered 11 children and lived through the great depression - the woman knew how to stretch a dollar. Nana D was known for her crocheted afghans and our family came to expect a pair of her handmade mittens and socks for Christmas. She got started early in the new year, preparing for the next Christmas; she knit sets for each of her children, their spouses and all of her 18 grandchildren.
It took me by surprise when she put the knitting needles aside and got to work on a quilt. She'd seen a pattern in a magazine and wanted to try it herself. Of course, she turned it out in a New York minute and it was even more beautiful than the one in the magazine. Once that one was finished, she had me help her make a smaller one for my cousin, Cheryl. We sat side by side, upstairs in her spare room, working on the quilt together. She liked it there because she had a bird's eye view of who was driving past. She'd comment on how fast the cars travelled and how someone was inevitably going to get hurt out there.
I traced out the hearts and she appliqued them on. Once it was time for the quilting, she had me threading needles while she quilted. I had a handful of needles and would stick them all along the windowsill once they were threaded. I remember her bragging to her friends about how good I was at threading a needle. You never know when you'll need that kind of skill! I was so proud of that quilt and really hoped my cousin would appreciate the work we put in to it.
On my 12th birthday - the birthday where the clown my parents ordered came a day early and ended up getting stopped by the police for speeding (not a lucky clown, to be sure) - Nana D arrived with a box. It was a fair size and I was curious what she had inside. Normally she gave us homemade jam or more socks and mitts. This box was too big for socks or jam. I can still remember how I felt when I saw what was in the box - our quilt! It was mine to keep. Surely I couldn't have know then what a special gift it really was, but I had a sneaking suspicion. I really haven't let it out of my sight since. It came off to university with me. It cuddled my baby when she was little. It's still serving it's purpose, snuggling each of us when we're sick or when our toes just can't get warmed up.
I know it's not looking it's best, but I can't bring myself to alter it. I can't bring myself to pull out her stitches or replace the missing hearts with fabric that she didn't choose. It's my little piece of what I remember about my relationship with her and I wouldn't trade it for the world.