For Nanny, on the occasion of her 80th Birthday
On my 25th birthday, I asked for a quilt that my parents had kept on hand in our home growing up. It was a quilt of many colors and seemed to hold as much delight for me as any blanket could. I love the vibrant nature of the fabrics woven together and the weight of its stitching that seems to swallow me right up. When asking for the quilt, I had no idea the significance it held. My mom and I were having a conversation about it and I came to find that this particular quilt was one sewn of the remaining pieces of my Mamaw’s old dresses and aprons, Nanny’s similar remnants from her storehouses of dresses and aprons, and some of the pieces of my mother’s childhood wardrobe. Three generations of women in my family are held in this quilt. I’m certain that each piece holds its own memory but the thought of quilts and the women in my heritage, make me think of the Kentucky farm I’ve spent almost every Christmas. And when I think of the farm, I think of Nanny.
My Mom’s mom might be the best woman I know. Growing up in the North, kids thought my sister and I must be rich to have a Nanny care for us. I explained that nanny wasn’t a full-time babysitter, but grandma and so much more. As kids, my sister and I anticipated arriving at the quarter mile long driveway, unbuckling our seat belts to take in the scenes of the farm’s many acres, and most importantly, to prepare for Nanny’s greeting and big open hugs. We would snuggle her sweet smell and know that we would be nurtured, loved, and cared for, no matter the request. Her generosity knows no bounds and her open arms have no end. Just by watching I learned how to give unconditionally and without judgment, because it wasn’t just for us that she would put on the best feast. On occasion, Nanny would use words to teach us, reminding us of the truth, or holding our hands as we learned to walk, always tempered with grace and with certain depth.
As an adult, I’ve come to understand that the sense of calm tenacity, comforting resolve, and unconditional love she extends are deeply rooted like the trees that line the farm and the stitching on that quilt I love. There have been storms and winds that have tempted to uproot her character or destroy her sense of being, but she has stood with dignity and character. The only reason, she would attest, is her unwavering, resolute faith in the one she has allowed to wage her relative wars. God has sewn in her soul the truth and depth on the cross, and it has created an incredible tapestry.
When I look at that quilt, now half folded atop my bed at home, I see a blanket stitched with grace and mercy in each piece. It is a reflection of God’s faithfulness in our family, to offer us a legacy of faith made manifest in the life of my Nanny. And when I lie under it, I am reminded that God is alive and the giver of such good gifts. One of His best gifts to our family, is Nanny.