Yesterday's Magazette

12 – One More Gift to Open

One More Gift to Open

By Marion Tickner

I walked down the stairs to what I thought was a monthly meeting of our church ladies and found, to my surprise, that it was my bridal shower. The table was covered with beautifully decorated packages. After the usual chit chat, our pastor’s wife stood up and said, “This is your life, Marion.”

She told things I didn’t even remember, like when I invited my classmates to my birthday party and it wasn’t my birthday. A friend sang “Norman, get me to the church on time.”

As I opened those beautiful gifts I did the proper “oohs” and “aahs.” Then there was one more gift to open. It had been set aside from the others. I tore off the paper, wondering what it could be.

That one last gift–a quilt.

I stared at the quilt, not believing what I saw. It looked just like the one I already had. But how could that be? My quilt had been handmade by my elderly aunt. At least as a teenager, I considered her elderly.

My earliest memories of Aunt Bessie were our visits to her home in the country, a typical farm house. In colder weather we huddled around the pot-bellied stove in the dining room. In warmer weather the living room was opened for company.

Aunt Bessie came to take care of my brothers and me when my sister was born. I was nine at the time. The arrangements were for me to sleep on a cot in my brothers’ room and Aunt Bessie would sleep in my double bed, a bed that had been in the family for years.

“I want my own bed,” I cried. I thought I could sleep with Aunt Bessie.

Instead, Aunt Bessie put her arm around me and said, “Don’t cry, Marion. You can have your own bed.” And she slept on the cot.

At that time new mothers were kept in the the hospital for a week or so. Aunt Bessie knew I missed my mama and she did all she could to make my life easier. One day she took out my mother’s sewing box and began doing something to my jacket. “I’m working magic,” was all she said.

I watched as she sewed a bell on the peak of the parka hood.  Indeed it was magic. I was pretty proud of that bell on my snowsuit, especially since no one else had one.

On my sixteenth birthday I received a surprise gift in the mail. Both Aunt Bessie’s older daughter and I had been named after our grandmother, so when she chose to send me her mother’s engagement ring I felt special. I still have the letter she sent with the ring, telling a little about the grandmother I never knew. “Her name was Marion,” she wrote, “but Father called her Molly. Molly is engraved in the band.”

One day when we as a family visited Aunt Bessie, she had another surprise. She handed my sister and me each a quilt that she had made. I used it to cover my bed and eventually designated it to the washing machine. Either the washer or the dryer did a job on it, pulling those hand-sewn stitches apart. By that time Aunt Bessie had passed away. Even though it wasn’t whole anymore, I put it away to remember Aunt Bessie’s love.

I became engaged to a widower, so while I didn’t have to start from the beginning to furnish our home, I bought a cedar chest. We put it in our future bedroom, and the first thing I put in it was Aunt Bessie’s quilt.

Now, at the shower, as I opened that one last gift all chatting stopped. Every eye watched.

“I have a quilt just like this,” I said. “Is this my quilt? How …?”

“We heard that your quilt needed a little work,” someone confessed.

“But we didn’t know how much,” another person added.

My mother had not only shared some of my childhood pranks for the “This is your life, Marion,” she also smuggled my quilt out of Norman’s house. I don’t know how she did it, or who even suggested it. The ladies took that whole thing apart, re-sewed it and put it together again. That quilt is back in the cedar chest with memories of Aunt Bessie and the kindness of my friends.

*Marion has been published in several children’s magazines, both print and online as well several anthologies. This story first appeared in Patchwork Path Treasure Box.

Vol. 38 No. 2 – Copyright © Yesterday’s Magazette


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