Before my birth, my Grandma Susan worked on a log cabin quilt – a double-bed quilt, made from scraps of fabric. Included were orange silk and green velvet from women’s dresses, dark worsteds from men’s attire, bits of purple, plaid and gingham, all framed in red flannel with a navy paisley backing. I have no memories of her because she passed away when I was a baby.
From my mother’s stories, I know that Grandma Susan worked hard on the farm, hoeing fields and tending a garden. She knew traditional remedies and spent many hours in neighbours’ homes nursing the sick. Though she was only able to attend a few years of school, she kept learning. She read to her children before they started to school – classics such as Robinson Crusoe and A Girl of the Limberlost. She supported my mother’s desire to become a teacher in an era when many children were kept home to work on the farm.
One day I was ill, alone, and having chills. I went to the trunk to get another cover. Without thinking, I pulled out the log cabin quilt, spread it over the bed covers, and crawled in. After a very long sleep, I began to stir. My fever seemed to have dissipated and I was feeling a bit better.
My eyes focused on the log cabin quilt and I had a lovely thought. The grandma I never knew had given me a warm and healing hug. Looking closely, I saw thousands of tiny hand stitches joining the myriad pieces together. It is a work of art, hand-crafted and beautiful in its own way. She created an heirloom to treasure.