Mom! Mom! Where are you?” Kristi Marshall called, as she bounded through the front door of her parents’ house, letting the door slam behind her as though she was seven years old again.
“Good grief, Kristi, what are you shouting about? I’m right here,” said Donna DeWitt, coming down the hall, trying to fasten a silver chain around her neck. Finally successful, she patted the silver pendant hanging from the chain and muttered, “There.” Then, turning her attention to her impatient daughter, she said, “OK, I’m ready. Let’s go. I can’t see what the hurry is, though. I’m sure Macy’s will still have lots of bargains when we get there.”
Kristi smiled sheepishly and said, “I know, Mom. I don’t know why I love to shop like I do. I just do, that’s all. So, let’s go.” She took her mother’s elbow, smiled wide and announced, “Sale, here we come!”
Donna and Kristi had a productive shopping spree. By the time they took a break for lunch, they had already made a trip to the car to deposit an array of bags. Their purchases included a pale turquoise button-down-the-front dress for Donna, a camel-colored suit for Kristi, a real estate agent who had to dress professionally nearly every day, two terry cloth robes, pink for Donna and yellow for Kristi, and an array of accessories.
“Now, Mom,” Kristi said, as she swallowed the first bite of her chicken salad croissant, “this afternoon, we need to go to the home furnishings department. They’re having a sale on bedspreads, comforters, linens, the works.” Excitement was evident in her voice as she added, “It’s about time you got rid of that ugly old quilt and updated your bedroom with some pizazz.”
Donna didn’t respond for a few moments. Instead, she just looked down at the colorful and tasty fresh fruit salad she was enjoying immensely. Then, slowly, she raised her eyes to look at her daughter and patted her lips with her napkin.
“Kristi, that quilt is my memory scrapbook. It will cover my bed until the day I die.”
“But, Mom, it’s so old, and it’s certainly not very pretty,” Kristi argued, disappointed that her mother wasn’t sharing her excitement over a bedroom redo. “It doesn’t even have a pattern, just what seems like a couple hundred pieces of old cloth sewed together in some nutty fashion.”
“Not ‘nutty,’ Kristi, ‘crazy.’ My quilt is what’s known as a crazy quilt,” Donna explained. “And there aren’t a couple hundred pieces of cloth, there are exactly 346 pieces – and I have a memory to go along with every one of them.”
“You’re kidding, aren’t you?” Kristi asked. “How can you possibly remember something about each of 346 pieces of old cloth?”
“But I do,” Donna said, smiling. “That quilt is like a diary to me. Most pieces are clothes I remember – clothes my mother sewed for me or your Aunt Shirley. There are even some from your Uncle Billy’s shirts. Those I was too young to remember, my mother told me about when she gave us the quilt. It was our wedding present from her, you know. Mama finished it the week before your dad and I were married.” She smiled, lost in wonderful memories. “Now, let’s finish our lunch, and then, if you want to shop for some home furnishings, I’ll be glad to hit that department with you. However, I won’t be shopping for a new comforter or bed cover of any sort.”
Kristi, feeling a bit like a reprimanded child, had nothing more to say about the quilt, and the two made small talk, chatting about things that were of interest to both as they finished their lunch. When they were done, they headed for the home furnishings department at Macy’s.
Donna did find a good buy on some lovely mint-green percale sheets, and Kristi, well, Kristi apparently planned to completely refurbish her bedroom. She purchased two sets of sheets and a gorgeous reversible comforter that was dark green velvet on one side and a bold floral design of pinks and greens on the other. The sheets matched – one set dark green, one set the same floral design and colors of the comforter – and she bought seven pillows to complement the comforter. She also ordered a boudoir chair upholstered in dark green velvet.
The packages were too many and too heavy to carry, so Kristi pulled her SUV around for pick-up as they were leaving the mall parking lot. An attendant loaded the packages, filling nearly all the available space of the vehicle. The chair would be delivered to Kristi and Steve’s home later.
“It’s a good thing I borrowed Steve’s wheels,” Kristi said. “We’re pretty full.”
Both mother and daughter were quiet on the drive home, partly from contentment and partly from exhaustion. It had been a good day, one of camaraderie and of successful shopping.
As they rounded the last corner before pulling into Donna’s driveway, Donna said, “Kristi, I’d like to share with you the stories of the fabric pieces in my crazy quilt.”
“Are you kidding, Mom?” Kristi asked. “You want to tell me all 346 stories?”
“No, honey,” Donna said with a laugh. “I think a modest sampling would be sufficient. Why don’t you and Steve drop by Sunday afternoon? Steve can watch the game with your dad, and you and I can retire to the bedroom for your first ‘quilt lesson.’”
“Can’t, Mom. I have an open house Sunday. Real estate agents don’t have many Sunday afternoons free, you know. Steve would probably love to come over and glue himself to the TV with Dad, though.”
“Well, then, how about Monday afternoon?” Donna persisted.
Kristi knew her mother wasn’t going to let this go, and to be perfectly honest, Donna had aroused her curiosity. So she agreed.
“Monday would be fine, Mom.”
As Kristi pulled her car into the driveway at her parents’ home, the car’s newly washed exterior boldly displayed its Warner Realty sign. Stepping from her car, Kristi took a deep breath and briefly prayed that this “quilt story session” would prove to be interesting.
“Hi, Mom,” Kristi said, giving her mother a quick peck on the cheek.
“Hi, hon,” Donna said. “You ready for your beginning quilt tale?”
“As ready as I’ll ever be, I guess,” Kristi said, then bit into a warm chocolate chip cookie. “Mmm, yum. This’ll put me in the mood for anything.”
“Well, grab another and come on into the bedroom. I have a couple of TV trays set up in there. I’ll bring the coffee, and we’ll be all set.”
Kristi and Donna settled in their chairs, nibbled cookies and sipped coffee for a few minutes, then Donna said, “Let’s get started. Why don’t you point out a fabric you’d like to hear about, and I’ll take it from there.”
Kristi wiped her hands on a napkin and sat looking at the colorful quilt. At first glance, the colors all seemed to run together, with no one fabric piece more distinctive than the others. Then she noticed one square with tiny ducks seeming to strut across a bright blue background. The design reminded her of a pair of pajamas she’d bought her twins, Jenny and Joey, when they were about three years old.
“How about the ducks, Mom. Do you have a duck story?”
“I sure do,” Donna said. “A great duck story.”
Billy, Donna’s older brother by eight years, needed a project for 4-H. Not a big project or a complicated one. Mama had a hard enough time getting Billy to tend to his schoolwork and the few chores that were his responsibility. Billy preferred to play or fish or climb trees, or just daydream. Anything but work.
Mama felt a project that was really his might inspire him to show some ambition, so she gave the 4-H project great thought. Daddy thought raising a cow might be the answer. Mama thought something smaller would be best, so when she saw a card posted at Andrews’ Groceries advertising a pair of ducks for sale, she knew she’d found the answer. As soon as she got home, she called about them. Then she sent Daddy and Billy over to pick them up.
So Jasper and Janie Duck became part of their household. And Mama was right. It did turn out to be a good project for Billy. The ducks required some work, but not too much.
Billy took great pride in his project and diligently fed the ducks, morning and night. He didn’t much like the fact that he was required to buy the food from his own allowance, however. He also had to pay Daddy back for the price of their purchase.
“The ducks aren’t really yours, Billy, unless you bear the expense of them. You can wait to pay me back when you sell the ducklings. If you take good care of Jasper and Janie, there’ll be ducklings, and they’ll be a good source of extra cash for you.” Daddy knew Billy was trying to save for a new radio he’d fallen in love with at Ames Hardware.
As Daddy had predicted, in no time, there were ducklings. Billy’s little sister Donna was smitten with the ducklings. To her, they were live toys, and Mama had to watch her closely to be sure she didn’t squeeze them to death. One thing Donna hadn’t bargained on was Billy selling them, which he did.
Donna was inconsolable when she awoke from her nap, ran out to see the ducklings, and they were gone. Her mother held her and tried to explain that the ducklings belonged to Billy, and he had the right to sell them. She explained that raising the birds and making a profit was part of the project.
Donna was too young to understand, though, so over her sobs, Mama told her about an idea she had. She would find some cloth with ducklings on it, and it would be hers and only hers. She didn’t have to share it with anyone else. Little Donna wasn’t sure how a piece of cloth would be a substitute for fuzzy ducklings, but Mama had gotten her interest.
Mama didn’t even have to search to find the perfect fabric. She already had a yard of flannel with tiny ducklings on a bright blue background stashed away in a pile of fabric odds and ends stored in a basket in the closet. She immediately dug it out and handed it to her little daughter.
Donna eyed the cloth skeptically, then she grabbed it and rubbed the softness against her cheek. As she did, a look of contentment spread across her face.
“And you know,” Donna said, “I carried that fabric around with me until it fell apart. I was amazed Mama found a piece to include in the quilt.”
“What a great story,” Kristi said.
Donna smiled and asked, “Now, what story would you like to hear next?”
“Hmm, let’s see. This one looks like it came from some kind of party dress,” Kristi said, as she ran her fingers over a square of emerald green velvet.
“Good guess, Kristi. It was a party dress,” Donna said. “I was eight years old and appearing in a Christmas pageant.”
Donna ran into the house sobbing.
“What is it, honey?” her mother asked, somewhat alarmed, because Donna usually came home from school cheerful. She really seemed to love third grade.
“I’m not an angel,” Donna said. “Mary and Barbara and Suzie and Karen are angels, and I’m not.”
Her mother was completely baffled. Had Donna misbehaved in school and been told she was not an angel? Mama knew her daughter was no angel, but she was a good student and behaved well.
“Who said you aren’t an angel?” Mama asked.
“No one said I’m not, I’m just not,” Donna said.
“Well, what did you do, Donna?”
“Nothing,” Donna replied, starting to sob again.
“You said Mary, Suzie and Karen are angels,” Mama said. “Is that right?”
“And Barbara, too,” Donna said. “You forgot Barbara.”
“Donna, let’s hang up your coat. You sit right here,” Mama directed, seating her daughter at the kitchen table, “and wait while I call Barbara’s mother and see if I can find out what’s going on.”
When Barbara’s mother, Sally, answered the phone, Mama explained that Donna came home from school crying and bemoaning the fact that she wasn’t an angel. Mama asked, “Could you ask Barbara if she might know what Donna’s talking about?”
Sally agreed and returned a moment later to report what she had learned from her daughter.
“Mmm-hmm,” Mama mused. “The Christmas pageant. I bet that’s what this is all about.” Mama laughed and said, “Yes, I’m sure of it. Thanks, Sally.”
Mama drew a chair close to Donna and asked, “Barbara and the other girls were given angel wings for the Christmas pageant, weren’t they, honey?”
“Yes, and I didn’t get any. All I got was a star.” With that announcement, she slid off her chair and went to get the items she had brought home from school.
Nestled among some papers Donna handed her was a star covered with glitter, and an attached note, which said ‘I’d like very much for Donna to be the Christmas tree in our pageant this year. She tells me you have made her a green velvet dress for the holidays. With this star in her hair, and wrapped in red garland, I think she’d make a perfect Christmas tree. Helen Prescott.’
“Donna, this is an honor. Mrs. Prescott wants you to be the Christmas tree. That’s why you weren’t given angel wings,” Mama said. “And I agree with Mrs. Prescott. You’ll make a very pretty tree.”
“Really?” Donna asked, wiping away her tears and trying to smile.
“Really,” Mama said, as she held the glittery star over Donna’s head. “A very, very pretty tree.”
“I bet you did,” Kristi said, giggling.
“I guess I did. There’s a photo of it somewhere. Obviously, I didn’t have any lines to say, but I did get to join in singing O Christmas Tree,” Donna said. “OK, we have time for one more.”
“How about this one?” Kristi fingered an ivory piece of satin, yellowed with age, but still showing that it was once an elegant piece of fabric.
“You seem to like the ones that have a good feel to them,” Donna said.
“I do, don’t I? The velvet felt so soft, and this feels so luxurious.”
“It should,” Donna told her daughter. “That piece comes from your Aunt Shirley’s wedding dress.”
“Aunt Shirley’s wedding dress!” Kristi exclaimed in disbelief. “When in the world was Aunt Shirley married? I thought she was a world-traveling photographer all her life.”
“She was, for most of it anyway. But when she was nineteen, Shirley was engaged to Melvin Frawley, son of the president of the bank. Their wedding was to be one of the social events of the year.”
“What happened? Did they get married or not?”
“No, they didn’t,” Donna said sadly.
“World War II was why. Melvin was drafted. They postponed the wedding, and Shirley waited for Mel’s return. She waited and waited. She wasn’t even sure where he was fighting – just somewhere in Europe.”
“Didn’t they write each other?”
“Oh, sure. Shirley wrote him every day, but during the war, you didn’t address the mail to the boys where they were. It went to some post office here in the states, and there the mail was sorted to its destination. Mel probably got a dozen letters from her all at one time. And the letters Shirley got from him were all censored.”
“Censored?” Kristi asked. “Explain that to me.”
“I keep forgetting that World War II is in such a distant past for your generation, and that a lot of the practices are almost unimaginable to you. But we were fighting for the survival of freedom, and no chances were taken. If Mel had mentioned where he was fighting, and that information had gotten into the wrong hands, the result could have been disastrous. So, all mail coming from the boys was read, and when necessary, censored. There would be holes cut out where information was removed.”
“Didn’t they know they couldn’t say where they were fighting?” Kristi asked.
“Of course. And I’m sure Melvin wouldn’t have written anything he shouldn’t – not intentionally. Anyhow, he’d been gone for about seven months, I think. I was so young, time really didn’t register. I was 12 years younger than Shirley, and I was to be the flower girl in her wedding. Anyway, one afternoon after Melvin had been gone for about seven months, Shirley got a call from Mel’s dad. Mel had been killed in action somewhere in Italy. It was awful. One minute Shirley was running for the phone, and the next, she was screaming.”
“I’ll bet it was,” Kristi said. “How come I’ve never heard about this over the years?”
“That’s the way Shirley wanted it. I always figured silence was the least I could give her. I was surprised when Mama put this piece in the quilt. I thought it would upset Shirley, but Mama said no. Shirley wanted us to have a memory of her and Mel.”
“She was so young when he was killed. Didn’t she ever want to marry anyone else?”
“Nope. She rarely dated. She had men friends, but that’s what they were – just friends. It was through one of them that her interest in photography blossomed. His name was Richard Bell, and he was a photographer for the local newspaper. He taught her all he knew about it, and it wasn’t long before she far surpassed him. She took a job out east with a large news service, then became a foreign correspondent – a photographer in places I’d never heard of.”
“Good heavens, Mom,” Kristi said. “That’s the most fantastic story I’ve ever heard. No wonder you value this old quilt so much.”
Donna beamed at Kristi’s comment, then glanced at her watch, causing Kristi to glance at hers.
“Oh my gosh. I need to run,” Kristi said, grabbing the last chocolate chip cookie on the plate and dashing out the door, promising her mother that she’d return later in the week for another “quilt lesson.”
Thoughts of her sister were fresh on Donna’s mind after Kristi left. She knew her husband, Burt, wouldn’t be home for supper, since it was his bowling night, so she dug out the old photo albums and picture books.
She opened the collection of famous photos taken by her sister. They were fantastic, and Donna felt a great sense of pride as she turned the pages. Her sister had truly been gifted in her field. She seemed to have known exactly when to snap the shutter, and exactly what was needed to get her message across.
Many showed wearied refugees in war-torn countries, their faces lined with grief. Several were of children – children whose eyes showed fear of their predicaments, and whose bright smiles displayed their joy at being the subject of the attention this lady with all the camera equipment was giving them.
Many of the photos were of United States servicemen located all across the globe. Some of them appeared “war-weary,” but a lot of them were close-ups of young men with friendly smiles. It was as if Shirley kept searching for military men who reminded her of her long-gone sweetheart, Mel.
The last book Donna went through had been dedicated to Shirley. It had gone to press three months after her death at the age of 73. Indeed, Shirley Mason had lived a full, rich life after Mel’s tragic death – and the wedding that was never to be.
It was nearly ten o’clock when Burt DeWitt pulled into the garage after his night of bowling. When he walked into the house, he found Donna sitting on the sofa, the books by her side. A plate scattered with crumbs remaining from the chicken sandwich she’d eaten for supper sat on the coffee table, and a cup of cold tea sat beside it.
“Hi, hon,” Burt said, stooping to kiss his wife. “What are you doing?”
“Oh, just going through Shirley’s books and one of the photo albums – one of the really old ones.”
“So I see,” he said, picking up a collection of very old photos, ones when Donna was just a child. “Photography when you and I were kids sure wasn’t what it is today. All black and white, except for these here tinted ones that look so darned fake.”
“I know,” Donna said. “I was looking for this one of me, in the flower girl gown I was supposed to wear for Shirley’s wedding. Billy took the photo when I tried the dress on. I was devastated that I never got a chance to wear it, so I really treasured the picture. You can hardly tell who I am in this photo. As you said, they weren’t of the quality of today’s photos. Of course, this was taken a long time ago and has faded some. It’s a bit cracked, too,” she added, rubbing her thumb over the photo’s surface.
“Any special reason you were hunting for that particular photo?” Burt asked.
“Mm-hmm. I was telling Kristi some of the stories behind the fabrics in our quilt, and she asked about the one from Shirley’s wedding gown.”
Burt sat down beside his wife and asked, “Was this the first she’d ever heard that story?”
“Yes. Shirley never wanted us to talk about Mel’s death, so I tried to respect that. Kristi was surprised. She’s always thought of Shirley as a dedicated career woman who never gave a thought about anything but travel and photography.”
“Did your mother really cut a piece from Shirley’s wedding gown for our quilt? I mean ...”
“No, of course not, Burt,” Donna exclaimed. “Mama never would’ve damaged that dress. She’d spent weeks creating it, and because she’d made it, she had plenty of scraps left to use in the quilt. Did you know that dress is packed away up in the attic?”
“Nope. Shirley needed the dress to ‘disappear’ as soon as she learned Mel had been killed, so Mama put it in the bottom of her old cedar chest. When Mama died, we took the chest, remember? So now it’s in our attic.”
Burt put his arm around his wife, and she rested her head on his shoulder.
“Memories are both good and painful, aren’t they, honey?” Burt asked.
Donna nodded and took her husband’s hand. What a lucky woman I am, she thought. Burt and I have been together for so many years, and he’s such a good man. I’m sorry my sister was never able to marry Mel, but I’m glad she found such satisfaction in the photographs she took. That was her marriage.
Late Sunday evening, Kristi called just as her parents were on their way to bed. Burt had walked the dog, and Donna had picked up the living room, collecting the pages of the newspaper that, as usual, had been scattered about throughout the day.
As she reached for the ringing phone, she muttered, “Who in the world is calling this late?”
“Hi, Mom,” Kristi said. “Please tell me you and Dad weren’t in bed.”
“No, not yet, but close. This is a bit late for you to be calling, though. Is something wrong?”
“No, no, and I apologize for calling so late. I meant to call all evening, all week as far as that goes. Sometimes I think my hectic life is actually affecting my brain.”
Donna laughed and said, “I doubt that, honey.”
“I called because I was wondering if you’re free tomorrow morning, and if you are, how about another quilt lesson? I could come about nine,” Kristi said. “I’ll stop and pick up some bagels at the deli, and if you’ll put on the coffee, we’ll be ready for a long session. I haven’t been able to get the last one out of my mind. How about it?”
“Sounds wonderful,” Donna said.
“Great. See you about nine.”
“Who was that?” Burt asked.
“Kristi. She’s coming over in the morning to hear more quilt stories.”
“You seem to have ensnared her with your tales.”
“I’m not sure ‘ensnared’ is the right word, but there’s no doubt I’ve captured her interest,” Donna said, smiling with pleasure as she crawled into bed and pulled her beloved quilt up to her chin.
As promised, Kristi arrived at her parents’ house at nine o’clock, laden with enough bagels for the whole neighborhood.
Both women grabbed a mug of steaming coffee and a bagel, then made their way to the bedroom, where again, Donna had placed two chairs and a TV tray beside the bed.
“OK. Where do we start?” Donna asked. “Do you see another piece you’d like to hear about?”
“I’d like to hear about a lot of them, Mom,” Kristi said. “You’ve got me hooked. Why don’t you pick a couple you’d like to tell me about?”
“OK, how about this one,” Donna said, touching a square of pink gingham. “It was a very special day the day I wore this. I felt like a ‘queen for a day.’”
“It’s not a very queenly looking fabric, Mom. Sweet and pretty, maybe, but not very royal.”
“Honey, when you’re nine years old and think you can do something better than anyone else, you think you’re as good as royalty.”
“Mama,” Donna shouted breathlessly as she bounded into the house, waving a paper in her hand.
“What is it?” Mama asked.
“I’m the best speller in the whole wide world. This paper says so.”
Taking the paper, Donna’s mother read that Donna had not missed a single spelling word for the entire year – and it was already April, with only six weeks of school left. The paper said that Mrs. Taylor, Donna’s fourth-grade teacher, would like Donna to represent the school in the annual spelling bee the following month. One student from the fourth or fifth grade was selected from each area school, totaling a dozen or so students.
“This is wonderful, Donna. You’re really doing well, and I’m very proud of you,” Mama said, hugging her excited little girl. “It doesn’t actually say you’re the best in the whole wide world, but it does say you’re the best in your class.”
“But I am, Mama,” Donna said. “Just wait and see.”
Donna followed her claim of greatness by studying words over the remaining weeks until the spelling bee. Her brother, Billy, was enlisted to help in her studies.
“Aw, Mama, do I have to? I hate spelling, and it’s so boring to hear Donna spelling the same words over and over again,” Billy said, as now that he was a teenager, he felt this drill beneath him.
“It isn’t going to hurt you, Billy. You can see how much it means to her,” Mama said. “Wouldn’t you like to see her win?”
“I guess so,” Billy replied. “OK, c’mon, Donna, let’s make you the best speller around.”
“I’m already the best speller in the whole wide world, Billy. You’ll see.”
Billy just rolled his eyes and started through the list of words, glad to see she really did know her stuff.
Mama had made a new dress for Donna for the occasion – pink gingham with puffed sleeves, a white eyelet collar, and a sash that tied with a bow in back.
Everything was ready for the big day. Mama, Daddy, Billy and Donna piled into the truck, excitedly. Shirley, who was now twenty-one and a budding photographer, had her own apartment and was going to meet them at the VFW hall, the site of the spelling bee.
Meeting them just outside the hall, Shirley hugged her little sister tightly and wished her luck. The other three family members followed suit.
Just before Donna dashed away to join the other children, Billy hollered, “Be terrific, Donna.”
Donna answered him with an endearing smile and a wave as she disappeared into the throng.
All the children spelled well, and the contest went into many rounds. One by one the contestants stumbled, until only two remained – Donna and Mary Beth Reinhardt, a fifth-grader from one of the local schools.
“We’re down to our two final contestants,” said the presiding judge. “Mary Beth Reinhardt and Donna Mason. I’ll start with you, Mary Beth. Your word
Mary Beth closed her eyes for a moment and scrunched up her little face, obviously concentrating very hard so she wouldn’t make a mistake.
Donna, watching her opponent and smiling, her blue eyes sparkling, was certain she knew how to spell congeniality. Mama could tell Donna was impatient for Mary Beth to spell the word, and she was hoping Donna wouldn’t blurt out a response before her turn.
“C-O-N-G-E-N-I-A-L-I-T-Y,” Mary Beth said, pronouncing each letter clearly, slowly and carefully.
“Correct,” the judge said. “Now, Donna, it’s your turn. Will you please spell ‘beatific.’”
Without waiting or giving it any thought, certain again that she knew exactly what she was doing, Donna blurted out, “B-E-T-E-R-R-I-F-I-C.”
Billy recognized immediately what Donna was spelling, and so did Mama. She was spelling ‘be terrific,’ Billy’s send-off blessing to Donna. Billy looked smitten, his eyes downcast, but his mother placed her hand lightly over her mouth to hold back a chuckle.
“No, dear, I’m sorry, but that is incorrect,” the judge said. “The winner is Mary Beth Reinhardt. Mary Beth, you’ll be advancing to the regional spelling bee in July. Congratulations to both of you on a job well done.”
The judge smiled at both girls and handed them ribbons – blue to Mary Beth, red to Donna. Mary Beth was grinning, but Donna had tears in her eyes.
“But I knew how to spell that word, Mama,” Donna bemoaned on the drive home. “I don’t know where those letters I said came from. They just came in my head, and I said them.”
“You did very well, Donna, and we’re all proud of you. Mistakes happen,” Mama said. “That doesn’t change the fact that you’re a very good speller, an outstanding speller, in fact.”
“But now I’m not the best in the whole wide world,” Donna exclaimed.
“No, but you’re still one of the best, honey, and most of the time, that’s all we can hope for.”
Billy said not a word.
Kristi was laughing by the time her mother finished the story.
“You were quite the braggart, Mom.”
“Yes, I was. I was spoiled, being so much younger than Shirley and Billy. I was crushed to learn there were others who could spell better than I could.”
“When did you figure out how you happened to spell ‘be terrific’ instead of ‘beatific’?”
“Many years later. Billy and I were discussing the power of suggestion, and Billy thought it would be a good opportunity to tell me he was to blame for sticking those words in my head.”
“What did you say when he told you?”
“I didn’t really say anything, but I chased him though the house hammering him with a pillow. We were quite a sight,” Donna said, laughing. “OK, I’ll select another, then it’s your turn.” Donna pointed to a navy blue fabric with tiny turquoise flowers and said, “How about this one?”
“Oh, that’s really pretty, Mom. I bet it has a pretty story to go with it, too.”
“Yes, it does,” Donna said, a faraway look in her eyes. “I wore a dress made of this material the night I met a special boy named Burton DeWitt.”
Kristi gave her mother her full attention. She’d heard bits and pieces of how her parents had met, but she’d always suspected there was more.
The occasion was the junior-senior prom. Charles Fuller, the captain of the football team, had asked Donna to be his date. She was walking on clouds. Her best friend, Claire Reece, tried to talk her out of going with Charles, because Claire thought he had only invited Donna to make his ex-girlfriend, Sarah Whitaker, jealous. They had just had a major fight, and Sarah had thrown his class ring at him and told him they were over. Deep down, Donna knew Claire was right, but she was too swept off her feet to listen.
Donna tried to persuade Mama to let her buy a gown from Chandler’s Dress Shoppe, but Mama wouldn’t hear of it. She did let Donna select her own fabric, though – a navy blue print with turquoise flowers. Mama and Donna both thought it would look good with Donna’s blonde hair and blue eyes, and it did. The gown turned out to be the most beautiful gown at the dance – and by far the most unique. One of the problems with store-bought dresses in the small community was that the choices were limited.
When the big night finally arrived, Donna felt like Cinderella – going to the prom with the most popular boy in town, and a senior at that! She was just a junior and had dated very little. Mama and Daddy kept pretty tight reins on their baby.
It didn’t take long for Donna to discover that Claire had hit the nail right on the head. In spite of her lovely gown and the fragrant gardenia corsage Charles had so gallantly pinned on her dress, he paid absolutely no attention to Donna once they got to the dance. That’s when Burton came into the picture.
“You look lonely standing over here by yourself,” said a boy Donna had never seen before, who was now standing by her side.
“I ... I’m just waiting for my date to get me some punch. He’s over there ... some place,” Donna said, stammering as she looked around the room trying to spot Charles.
Since Charles had left Donna to get her some punch, he’d danced with Sarah twice, and now was talking to her date – and his good buddy – Hal Frazier.
“I’d be glad to get you some punch,” said the gracious young man standing before Donna. “I’m sure I can do it faster than he seems to be doing it. My apologies. We haven’t been introduced. My name is Burt DeWitt. And yours?”
Donna couldn’t help but smile at him, even though she was somewhat shocked by his forwardness. And she knew she’d never laid eyes on him before. Was he someone’s guest? A visitor?
“I’m Donna Mason. I’m a junior here at Fairview High. I don’t think I’ve seen you around before.”
“You haven’t. We, my family, just arrived late last night. Dad’s been here for a few weeks, heard about the prom and called for permission for me to come. He thought it’d be a good way for me to meet kids. I’m going to be starting school Monday, even though there are only five weeks left this year.”
“DeWitt. Why does that name sound familiar to me? Wait, your dad just bought the building supply store over on Pine. I saw them putting up a new sign when I drove by last Saturday.”
“Yep, that’s us. Dad had a lumberyard in Albert Lea, Minnesota, for about twenty years. Decided to sell and buy a larger, more comprehensive store, so he brought Mom down to look the place over and find a house, and here we are.”
“Well, welcome to Fairview, Burt DeWitt.”
“Thanks,” he said. “But it looks like we still have a little problem.”
“What problem is that?”
“You still don’t have any punch, and your date is dancing with that pretty redhead again. He must have forgotten about your drink.”
“No doubt. That’s Sarah Whitaker. She and Charles have gone together forever. They broke up a couple of weeks ago, so Charles asked me to the dance.”
“Well, if you want my opinion, he’s one heck of a lousy date to leave you here by yourself for so long.”
“I can’t say I wasn’t warned,” Donna said.
Burt grabbed her hand, and together they headed toward the refreshment table. After each had finished a glass of punch, Burt took Donna’s hand and led her to the dance floor. They danced every dance until strains of “Goodnight Sweetheart” filled the room.
Finally, Charles headed toward Donna, clutching Sarah’s hand.
Sarah was beaming as she said, “Guess what, Donna, Charles and I made up.”
“I figured as much,” Donna said, trying her best not to sound miffed.
“I know I neglected you, Donna,” Charles said, “but when Sarah and I started to connect, I just couldn’t tear myself away.”
“Don’t worry about it, Charles. Burt’s done a great job keeping me company. I didn’t even miss you.”
Charles turned toward Burt and introduced himself, shaking Burt’s hand.
“I’d like to escort Donna home if you don’t mind, and if she doesn’t mind,” Burt said.
“Is that OK, Donna?” Charles asked, hopefully.
“That’s just fine with me,” she said, giving Burt a big smile, as if to say, you’re definitely my first choice.
So, Burt DeWitt escorted Donna Mason home from the junior-senior prom. And he escorted her to many successive events over the next eight years, at which time Donna Mason became Mrs. Burton DeWitt.
“What a louse,” Kristi said.
“Oh, Charles wasn’t so bad. Just self-centered and thoughtless,” Donna replied.
With that declaration, mother and daughter laughed until they were teary-eyed.
“Dad was really your ‘knight in shining armor’ that night, wasn’t he?”
“Was he ever! I was so embarrassed standing on the sidelines waiting forever for my date to bring back a glass of punch, which I’m sure he never intended to bring. I was just a ruse for him to get to the prom while saving face, to try to win back Sarah. And after I had been so boastful about being asked by the captain of the football team. Your dad saved me from what could have been the worst night of my young life. Instead, it was the best. Your dad was handsome, charming, polite, and a wonderful dancer. Several of the girls were eyeing me with envy.”
“So, you and Dad began dating after that.”
“Not exclusively – not right away, anyhow. But he began hanging around our place a lot. Mama and Daddy liked him – Mama because he was courteous, and Daddy because he was industrious. He worked at the building supply store every Saturday and many afternoons after school. I think Mama thought he was handsome, too.”
“He still is, Mom.”
“I know,” Donna said, turning her attention back to the quilt. “OK, it’s your turn now, Kristi. What piece of fabric would you like to learn more about?”
Kristi touched a wild, colorful print of red, pink, orange, fuchsia and black, and said, “How about this one? Somehow, I can’t see you wearing anything that wild-looking.”
“I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I would have been delighted to wear the dress that came from, but I wouldn’t have qualified,” Donna said. “That fabric is from a dress of Shirley’s, made for one of her performances in Kansas City.”
“Wow!” Kristi exclaimed. “Was Aunt Shirley an actress, as well as a world-famous photographer?”
“Only in high school,” Donna said with a laugh. “There was a troupe made up of eighteen to twenty talented kids. This troupe would travel, giving performances during the spring. Most of their shows were performed in small towns around Fairview, but every now and then, there would be an invitation to a larger town – and Kansas City was one of those. Shirley was really excited. When we sat down to supper, she could hardly sit still, and she kept breaking out with a great big smile.”
“OK, young lady, tell us what’s on your mind,” Daddy said.
“Our troupe has been invited to the Zircon Theater in Kansas City next month,” Shirley said. “Can you imagine? Just like we’re professionals or something.”
“That’s wonderful, Shirley,” Mama said with great enthusiasm. “Mr. Halverson has done terrific things with you kids.”
“He’s been trying to get us invitations to different places, so we can get experience and recognition.”
Daddy ate as he listened to his daughter. She was an excellent student and a good kid, but he had reservations about this performance stuff. He couldn’t get excited about one of his kids entering the acting field, and with Shirley graduating in another year, he was certain she’d been thinking about her future.
“Be sure we get all the information before you plan too much on this trip,” he said. “Dates, where you’ll be staying, chaperones and the cost.”
“I will, Daddy,” Shirley said.
With that, the family finished their meal, discussing the everyday happenings that filled most of their days.
The following evening, Shirley showed her parents the information the troupe’s director had given them.
“This looks to be an expensive trip, Shirley,” her father said, looking at the information. “What’s the money for? Lodging and food can’t cost this much!”
Daddy shook his head, indicating it really didn’t look too promising that Shirley would get to go. He wished school events wouldn’t be so costly. This wasn’t a very wealthy area, and most of the residents were farmers or small store operators.
“Honey, why don’t you ask Mr. Halverson for a complete breakdown of the costs. It might help if we had a better understanding of what the money was actually going to be used for,” Mama said.
Shirley went to her room to do her homework feeling downhearted, because it looked as though she might miss out on this great trip. She was sure her best friend, April Shaw, was going. Money was never an issue with April. And Mel would be going, too. Of course, Mel had a steady income of his own, since he worked at the drugstore after school.
Shirley talked to Mr. Halverson the next day, and after supper was over that night and they had cleared the table and washed the dishes, Billy settled down to do his homework, and Mama tucked five-year-old Donna into bed for the night. Then, Shirley and her parents sat down to look over the troupe’s cost sheet.
“It looks like you’re getting a good deal on lodging and food,” Mama said, “but, the price for the costumes is outrageous!”
“But Mama, the way we look is very important. And the people we’ll be performing for are big-city people. They’ll expect us to look great.”
“Shirley, like I said last night,” Daddy began, “I just don’t see how ...”
Mama held up her hand and said, “I could make the costumes. They would be just as nice as if they were bought, and they would certainly cost less.”
“That would be quite a commitment,” Daddy told Mama. “But, it’s up to you. If you can cut down the cost of the costumes, Shirley can go on the trip.”
“Shirley, ask Mr. Halverson to phone me in the morning, and we’ll see what I can do. Whether or not you’ll be able to make this trip depends on what Mr. Halverson says.”
Shirley went to bed hopeful that night. She knew her mother was a great seamstress, and she also knew she worked very fast.
When Shirley spoke to Mr. Halverson the next day, he was excited about the prospect of Mama making the costumes. She had a stellar reputation for her dressmaking, and he knew the parents of the other troupe members would be delighted at saving money.
In the end, Mama made nineteen costumes of various sizes in a red, pink, orange, fuchsia and black print – and a scrap of the fabric was used in the quilt she made for the wedding of her youngest child, Donna.
“Grandma was a saint, wasn’t she?” Kristi asked.
“Well, I don’t know if she was a saint, but she was certainly always eager to help her kids. And she enjoyed sewing. You should have seen our house when she was making the outfits for Shirley’s troupe. With them all coming for fittings, it was a hectic place, and Mama loved every bit of it.”
“Wow, it’s already noon!” Kristi exclaimed, glancing at her watch. “I can’t believe how time flies when you’re telling these stories.”
“Do you want to take a break for lunch? We’ve got leftover lasagna from last night in the fridge.”
“Yum,” Kristi replied. “Lunch sounds good.”
“OK,” Donna said, standing and heading toward the kitchen, her daughter following.
“I can’t stay too much longer,” Kristi said as they ate lunch. “I have time for one more story, though.”
“One more story, it is,” Donna said, smiling.
“You know, Mom, I would never have believed I could get so caught up in stories about fabric, but they really are wonderful. I completely understand now what you meant when you said your wedding quilt is your ‘memory scrapbook.’”
Donna said nothing, but the look of pleasure on her face was obvious.
Back in the bedroom after lunch, Kristi pointed to a piece of pale yellow material in the quilt and said, “Tell me about this one, Mom. It’s rather plain, but such a soft, beautiful color. It reminds me of an Easter egg.”
“It should,” her mother said, chuckling. “That fabric is from my Easter dress when I was three years old. See that piece of fabric right there that’s white with yellow polka dots? That went with this piece; it made the bow. Anyhow, it was an unusual Easter, to say the least. A good day, and a bad day both.”
“Oh, I can’t wait to hear this,” Kristi said.
“After church we were invited to Daddy’s parents’ farm for dinner. We always loved going there. Grandma Mason was the most wonderful cook I’ve ever known. When I close my eyes and let my imagination wander, I swear I can still smell her roast chicken and apple pie.” Donna closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. “Anyhow, when we came out of church, it was snowing like crazy!”
“I can’t believe this weather,” Mama said to Daddy. “It’s Easter, not Christmas!”
“Well, my dear, this isn’t the first Easter snow we’ve seen, and Easter did fall early this year,” Daddy said. “I sure wish Ma and Pop lived closer. Driving those old back roads in all this snow is going to be tough.”
Daddy reached down and swung Donna up in his arms so he could put her in the car. On the other side of the car, Shirley stepped lightly through the deep snow, complaining that her new shoes were getting wet – a typical complaint from a fifteen-year old girl.
“When we get in the car, you can use one of the old towels in the back to wipe them off. I’m sure they won’t be ruined if you brush off the snow right away,” Mama told her.
Driving wasn’t bad for a while, as they traveled on roads where others had traveled recently, but as soon as they got onto the stretch of back roads on the way to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, it was nearly impossible to see the roads. And the visibility was at zero.
“We should have gone home,” Daddy said.
“Is it too late to turn around?” Mama asked.
That question brought wails from Donna, as well as complaints from Billy and Shirley.
“I promised Grandpa I’d help him with the animals today, Dad. We have to get there,” Billy pleaded.
Billy had a great relationship with his grandfather, and his parents were grateful for that. Grandpa Mason, it seemed, was the only one able to inspire a little physical ambition in their son.
“I’m trying, Billy,” Daddy replied gruffly.
Billy decided it was best not to say anything more. He could see the veins in his dad’s neck popping out as he was straining with Herculean efforts to keep the car from sliding into a ditch. However, in spite of Daddy’s efforts, slide in a ditch they did.
Everyone got out of the car to make it lighter, and Billy and Daddy pushed with all their combined might, but the wheels just spun around and around. Mama held Donna, but they were both getting very cold, and Shirley was so cold, tears filled her eyes until they ran down her cheeks. She kept stomping her feet to keep them snow-free, but all she accomplished was filling them with more snow every time she stomped.
“Looks like you folks could use some help,” said a voice through the falling snow, then suddenly they saw a man on a tractor.
“We sure could,” Daddy said, introducing himself. “It’s hard to see the road, and we slipped off of it.”
“Yep, and this isn’t the best of roads in the best of conditions – which today certainly isn’t,” the man said. “Mason, you say. I’m Hank. You don’t happen to be related to Jake Mason down the way, do you?”
“As a matter of fact, Jake’s my dad,” Daddy replied. “That’s where we’re headed.”
“Tell you what. Get your family back in the car ’fore all of you freeze,” he said, “and I’ll pull you out. I have a chain right back here. When we get you up on the road, I’ll go first, and you can follow in my tracks.”
Daddy did as instructed, and soon they were on the road and on their way. As soon as they pulled into Grandma and Grandpa’s yard, their rescuer turned his tractor around and tooled away as Daddy waved.
As they were getting out of the car, Donna whined, “My tummy hurts, Mama.”
With that announcement, she leaned over and threw up in the snow, but not without getting it on her new Easter dress, mostly on the polka-dotted bow.
“Mommy,” Donna wailed.
Daddy picked her up and said, “We’ll clean you up in the house. Let’s get inside before we freeze.”
As they poured into the warm kitchen, Donna was crying and tugging on her dress.
“Grandma will wash your dress, honey,” Grandma said. “But first, let’s get your wet shoes and socks off.”
As Grandma removed Donna’s coat, socks and shoes, Mama, Daddy, Billy and Shirley did the same. Then they all crowded around the stove to get warm.
Grandma rinsed out the bow and sponged off the front of Donna’s dress, and the little girl was soon standing by the stove, happy again.
“With all the driving problems, and the snow and all, I forgot how easily Donna gets carsick,” Mama said. “I can’t believe I forgot that.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Grandma told Mama. “All’s well now, so let’s sit down before dinner gets cold.”
When the family joined hands to pray, Daddy said a special “Thank you” for Hank, who helped them save their inclement Easter day.
“Another great story, Mom,” Kristi said. “You guys could have really been in a fix – stuck out there in the country in a blizzard.”
“Yes, we could have. I don’t think we kids realized how serious the situation was,” Donna said. “But I know Daddy did – and Mama, too.”
“Well, I need to get going,” Kristi said. “Thanks, Mom. This has been a lot of fun.”
“Yes, it has,” Donna said.
“If you’re not busy Sunday, maybe I could come over for another lesson,” Kristi said.
“Sure,” Donna said, beaming. “Bring the family.”
“Great. Steve and Joey can watch the game with Dad,” Kristi said. “I’ve been telling Jenny about your stories, and I’m sure she’d love to hear some.”
“OK,” Donna said. “We’ll see you Sunday, then.”
On Sunday, Steve, Joey and Burt settled in front of the TV with snacks, ready for an afternoon of entertainment, while Jenny, Kristi and Donna headed for the bedroom.
“I could hardly believe it when Mom told me you were telling her all these great stories about fabrics from your old quilt,” Jenny said. “The quilt’s kind of like a storybook, isn’t it?”
“You’re exactly right. Now, since you’re the newcomer to the quilt stories, how would you like to select the first fabric?”
Smiling, Jenny took her time, looking at every square of fabric in the quilt.
“I think I’d like to hear about this one,” she finally said, pointing to a brown-and-pink stripe fabric.
Kristi silently hoped it didn’t take this long each time it was Jenny’s turn to choose a fabric. If so, she knew they wouldn’t be hearing very many stories this afternoon.
“Good selection, Jenny. This is a different story than those your mother’s heard so far,” Donna said.
“Different how?” Kristi asked.
“Well, that fabric comes from curtains for my dorm room when I was a freshman. I made them myself,” Donna said. “I didn’t have the curtains when school started. They were something I made to help me feel at home there after the first few weeks – and more to help with my homesickness.”
“How could curtains help you with homesickness, Grandma?”
“I know it sounds silly, but they did.”
“OK, the car’s loaded. Can’t imagine anything else will fit,” Daddy exclaimed, looking over the car, which was crammed full. “There’s barely room for us.”
Donna was leaving for college. She wasn’t going far – only sixty-five miles from home – but to her, it felt like a thousand miles. In addition to being away from home, she was now going to be sharing a room – something she’d never done.
The dorm rooms weren’t very big, either, Donna had noticed when she visited Gladstone College last spring. They were nice, but small. She hoped she could at least find room for what she was taking with her. It didn’t seem like much to her, but Daddy was right, the car was full.
Donna had already said goodbye to Burt. They had been dating exclusively for almost two years. Now a college sophomore, Burt would be returning to the university, which wasn’t too far from Gladstone College. Actually, Donna would be closer to him than she was last year, when he was at the university, and she was still in high school.
Nonetheless, Donna was starting to get a hollow feeling in the pit of her stomach, much like the quivery feeling she got when she looked down from the high bridge that crossed the river just east of town.
Good heavens, she thought, now’s not the time to start getting cold feet. I’ve looked forward to going to college for a long time, and now that it’s here, I should be excited and happy. So, with a forced smile, Donna crawled into the back seat as Mama joined Daddy in the front, and a moment later, they were on their way.
The campus was already crawling with people when the Masons arrived. Everywhere they looked, there were new students – their arms laden with clothing, books, linens and other favored belongings – looking for their assigned dorm rooms.
After several trips to the second floor, where Donna’s room was located, with Donna and her parents each lugging their fair share, the car was finally unloaded – and the dorm room was packed. Donna’s roommate had not yet arrived, so it was easier to move around – for the moment, anyway.
Mama and Daddy said their goodbyes with hugs and kisses, and promises of phone calls and letters. After they had left, Donna sat down on the bed for a moment, getting her breath after lugging all her stuff up. In addition to catching her breath, she was also trying to get past the quivery feeling that had returned.
Suddenly, the door burst open, and one of the prettiest girls Donna had ever seen bounded into the room. Following her was a handsome young man. Each was carrying bundles of clothing and linens, and a stuffed monkey sat on top of the girl’s load.
“Hi, I’m Sandra Sawyer,” the young girl said, then pointed to the young man and added, “and this is my boyfriend, Mike Harrington.”
Donna returned the greeting and introduced herself.
While the girls had written one another over the summer, and had sent photos, Donna decided that Sandra’s photo didn’t do her justice. Her silky blonde hair, ivory skin and blue eyes were ten times more beautiful in person.
After the introduction, the girls didn’t have much to say to each other until all of Sandra’s possessions were in the room, which now was so crowded, neither girl had a place to stand.
“I guess this mess isn’t going anywhere, so we might as well get things put away,” Sandra said. “The room sure didn’t seem this small last spring.”
“I agree,” Donna said, chuckling.
She was beginning to feel better, now. Sandra seemed really nice. But she had so much stuff!
“I’m going to go,” Mike told Sandra. “I’ll call you sometime tomorrow.”
“OK. I’ll talk to you later,” Sandra said to Mike, then turned to Donna and said, “Let’s get started.”
Hours later, the girls took a short break, then went back to work. Finally, the last of their stuff had been stashed away, and they could now move about the room – somewhat. Everything was crammed in tightly – and it wasn’t equally shared space. At least two-thirds of the space was taken up by Sandra’s things.
Sandra didn’t appear to think anything of having her stuff on Donna’s half of the room. In fact, as she leaned her tennis racket against the wall by Donna’s desk and hung her coats on the hanger on the back of the door, leaving no room for Donna’s coats, she said, “I have so much stuff.” No apologies, and no promises to clear some of it out and send it back home.
“Mama, I feel like a visitor in our room,” Donna complained the first time she talked to her mother on the phone. “She all but crowds me out.”
“I’m guessing there’s really nothing you can do to change her,” Mama said. “It sounds like that young lady is used to having things her way. The only thing you can do is change yourself, honey.”
“Change myself!” Donna exclaimed. “Why should I? I’m not the one taking over our room.”
“No, but you’re the one letting her actions make you unhappy, and that you can change,” Mama said. “When you go back to your room, look around. What could you do to make it your place? What’s missing so that it doesn’t feel like home to you? Just ignore the belongings that Sandra has crowded into your space. How can you make your space really inviting to you?”
When Donna and her mother finished their conversation, Donna went back to her room, sat at her desk and thought about what her mother had said. What could she do that would help make this her place?
Curtains, she thought. This place needs curtains. The room was decorated as most dorm rooms were – simple, unimaginative, colorless – with nothing but plain, cream-colored blinds on the window. Donna was used to color, to personal touches. She was going to put curtains in here, and Sandra had better like it!
Surprisingly, once Donna had made her decision, not only did she feel more tolerant about all of Sandra’s extra possessions encroaching on her space, but the recurring quivering feeling in her stomach actually disappeared. She had finally admitted to herself that the feeling was homesickness, and she knew it would eventually get better.
The first time Donna went home for a visit with the family, Mama took her shopping for fabric to make curtains. Donna selected a lovely brown-and-pink stripe, because she knew it would look great with the brown bedspreads she and Sandra had agreed upon. She also bought a big, floppy-eared pink dog to set on her bed.
Mama helped her finish the curtains before returning to campus Sunday afternoon, and Donna hung them as soon as she walked into the room. Then she placed her new stuffed dog on the bed, and stepped back and admired the general effect.
“I like it,” she said aloud in the empty room. “Now it looks like I live here.”
“What’s this?” a voice coming from behind her suddenly asked.
Sandra had just come back from a date with Mike. Donna turned quickly and steeled herself against the criticism she was sure would be forthcoming.
“Wow! Curtains,” Sandra said. “Donna, they look great. Curtains were a super idea – an idea I never would have thought of.”
For some unexplainable reason – and who would dare try to explain eighteen-year-old college girls living away from home for the first time – things improved between Sandra and Donna after the curtain incident. In fact, the two actually became great friends. And little by little, Sandra’s excess belongings, those lurking on Donna’s side of the room, disappeared. Donna wasn’t certain where they went – maybe they were crammed in Sandra’s closet or under her bed, or maybe they were on their way back home.
“What a fun story, Grandma,” Jenny said. “It makes me both nervous and eager to start thinking about college.”
“It probably isn’t too soon for us to be talking about it more, that’s for sure,” Kristi said, looking at her daughter.
“Do you have your sights set on somewhere in particular, Jenny?” Donna asked. “Have you decided what you’d like to do after college, or is it a little too soon to know that?”
“There are several possibilities of where, I guess, but I’m pretty certain of what career I want to follow,” Jenny said proudly. “Journalism. I’m working on the school paper, you know, and I just love it.”
“That’s an excellent choice, honey,” Donna replied. “You’ll make a wonderful journalist.”
“I’d like to ask you something, Grandma,” Jenny said. “Can I tape these stories about your quilt? You never know. Someday I might get a chance to write a book about them.”
“Good heavens,” Donna said. “I can’t imagine my stories having enough interest to be part of a book, but, of course, you can tape the stories.”
Over a period of several weeks, Donna told the rest of her quilt stories to her daughter and granddaughter, as well as the stories she’d already told – and Jenny taped the family tales, all 346 of them.
Three years after she graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in journalism, Jenny Marshall wrote a book about the early days of her family. It included several of her grandmother’s stories in a chapter that she named Grandma’s Crazy Quilt. Donna was thrilled – and very proud of her granddaughter.