At the height of Indian Summer, the sun seared the back of my neck as the dry heat attempted to siphon every ounce of water left in my body. I slothfully climbed five steps up to my Granny Walcott’s home, turned the doorknob and gave the door a slight push with my sandaled foot. A cool rush of seventy-five degree temperature-controlled air brushed over me and provided instant relief from the oppressive outdoor heat.
“Hey Granny,” I said to my grandmother seated across the room.
“Hi Jess,” she replied. “There is some iced tea in the refrigerator if you like?”
“I think I’d like to drink the whole pitcher,” I replied.
I poured the amber liquid into a tall glass over several ice cubes and raised it to my mouth. As I gulped down what seemed to morph into a life-saving drink, I gazed at my grandmother. She was at the far end of the dining room table. Her silver hair with its natural soft curl delicately draped her aging face and needed very little maintenance. Her gray-blue eyes peered through a pair of navy-blue framed eyeglasses as she focused intently on finishing my nineteenth quilt.
“I wonder if this will be my last birthday quilt?” I thought to myself. “I have ten at Mom’s and nine here. Geesh!”
“What time are you leaving tomorrow?” asked Granny.
“I have to be on the road by 6 o’clock in order to get to the campus by noon.” I replied.
“Can I help you finish packing?” asked Granny.
“No, I’m done. All I have left is what I’ll need in the morning.” I replied.
“Shall I make some banana pancakes for breakfast?” asked Granny.
“Uh, no thanks. I’ll be meeting a few friends to grab a bite to eat before we convoy to the University.” I replied.
“All-right then, well, your quilt is finished and ready to go with you.” said Granny.
“Thanks, it’s very nice,” I replied flatly.
My grandmother sighed and began to carry the quilt to my room. I gathered up her tape measure and pin-laden tomato cushion and placed them into her sewing bag. Her sewing bag originally belonged to her mother and bore the markings of a few repairs. She had a pair of scissors in there from 1943 that she kept because she claimed they never needed sharpening. Her needle kit was at least twenty years old and down in the bottom was a notepad from the 1950’s where she had written down various quilt measurements, layouts and a host of scribbled notes that appeared to be in a foreign language. A makeshift pouch on the side held a pocket-sized King James Bible that once belonged to her grandmother. She often said it gave her inspiration to make heavenly quilts. I lowered the old sewing bag by its hand-carved wooden handles onto the chair beside me and finished my tea.
With the arrival of Fall at the University the leaves on the trees began to audaciously show off their glory. I found it rather sad this time since my Biology professor explained how foliage is the result of a lack of sunlight and the slow death of a deciduous plant. After weeks of rigorous class assignments, hours of homework, limited sleep and a less than stellar diet, I felt like I was changing colors. I hadn’t had a reason to smile or laugh in days and the lackluster dorm room I was in offered no pleasure for the senses.
I turned away from the window and fell onto my bed. A lump was taking my throat hostage and my lips turned downward. My face felt distressed as the tears from each of my eyes raced down to my chin.
“I miss my family,” I thought to myself. “I want to go home!”
I rolled over to muffle my grief with the pillow. My sobs fought with it for oxygen and for the right to wholeheartedly display their anguish. As I rolled onto my side, my blurred vision stared into the partially opened closet. From the darkness, the folded edge of my nineteenth quilt came into focus. Honing in on it, I swung open the closet door, lifted the quilt and buried my face into it inhaling the scent of my grandmother’s home. Embracing the quilt in my arms, my tears absorbed into the fabric, I saw for the first time the stitches of love present throughout it and felt my lips turn gratefully upward.
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