Quite by coincidence, Emily and I both wrote about Kansas on Monday & Tuesday. I’ve been meaning to post about my grandmother’s quilts anyway, and she was from – KANSAS. Not sure we can sustain this accidental theme all week, but three days in a row devoted to the Sunflower State ain’t bad. Did you know the state bird is the meadowlark, whose cry is “eat upon a tablecloth?” Now you do!

So, my father’s mother was born Grace Opal Hallenbeck in 1892. How perfect that she was named for a virtue and a gem. She was the kindest, humblest, most uncomplaining person I ever knew. As mentioned before, she was of pioneer stock, with six children of her own. By the time I came along, Grandma Grace was occupied with her vegetable garden, pickling, canning, cooking. She baked, sewed, babysat, wrote letters, went to church. Early to bed, early to rise, she filled every minute in between. She helped out “old people” – when she was in her 90s and far older than those she was visiting. For us kids, she kept boxes of Hershey bars and glass bottles of grape and strawberry pop in her fridge. I remember her storm cellar out back, just like Aunty Em’s, and the metal pump used to fill galvanized watering cans.

In 1968, she made a quilt for my little brother – I think the pattern is LIttle Boys’ Britches – and she made a butterfly quilt for me. It’s full of wonderful feedsack patterns and I treasure it.

Later, I was lucky enough to receive a second quilt, which she intended for my “hope chest.” This one had a tulip pattern, and my parents stored it until I got married.

Grandma Grace met my first baby, Ian, when he was just six weeks old and took his first plane trip to to attend a family reunion in Ottawa, KS. She died the next year at age 100, and never knew my other boys.

It warms my heart that the quilts she made – with fabric scraps from the Depression – are still keeping my sons comfy and cozy through the chilly Pennsylvania nights, far from the tiny little house in the heartland, where she sewed them with love. Exactly as heirlooms are meant to do, they tangibly span the years, and the generations.

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