- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
None of us wanted to fight. Five sisters and one brother were trying valiantly to honor and respect our parents. Louise is the oldest and had the most daily contact with our mother before her quick death from cancer, long quietly taking over her body, but not loud enough to be noticed until too late. Three weeks later, here we sat, six middle-aged children in the living room of our youth, with red eyes of grief and nervous sweaty hands of anxiety.
'We'll each pick a number, starting from oldest to youngest, then we'll each take a pick, in the order of our numbers. You understand?' Louise was fully in charge. We were taking our pick of Mama's quilts.
These last six quilts of our mother's were something we needed to be fair about. They were all laid out for our choosing. Although not works of art for the most part, they were our heritage. There was a queen-size dresden plate and two twin-size patchwork, both in good shape. A double-size, double-knit polyester little girl quilt that we remembered from the era of leisure suits, and a queen-size log cabin that told it's age by the colors: orange and avocado. Then there was the quilt on my mother's bed, a double-size star pattern of Wedgewood blue chintz and cotton. It was gorgeous. And it smelled like Mama.
We reached into the shoebox one at a time for our numbers, and being the baby I picked last. Fitting, as I got number six, the last to choose from the bed cover legacy. Libby was the first, and no one was surprised to watch her gather up the soft-stiff chintz and fold it into her bag. When my turn came, the double-knit polyester quilt was left, so I took it, remembering mother hand stitching the pitiful thing. So much work, for so little beauty! 'We'll keep it in the car,' I thought to myself, 'for a picnic blanket.'
That was in October, and as the holidays approached our grief stayed with us, mostly hidden, but popping up unannounced as tears over a remembered song, or a phone call impossible to make. We all moved our bodies toward Christmas, even as our minds stayed with mother in her hospital bed before she died, or in her flower garden, or on her sun porch. Christmas would be hard.
Packages began to arrive, though, and I had to notice that the rest of the world didn't stop in the shadow of my sadness. On Christmas Eve, my children have the privilege of opening one package before bed, but on this night they encouraged me to join in. A large box from Ohio had piqued their interest. What could Aunt Libby have sent?
Laughing, I tore open the box, expecting a joke; an inflatable chair or bubble bath buried in yards of newspaper, then my hands shook, and my vision wavered through a film of sudden tears. Inside the box lay, neatly folded, the coveted chintz quilt from Mama's bed. I buried my face in the folds to take in the lingering scent of my mother, and to add my tears. On top of the quilt was a card: To my baby sister, my first pick.
Rene J. Manley
Reprinted by permission of Carol D. O'Dell. ©1996 Carol D. O'Dell.. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Chicken Soup for the Soul Celebrates Sisters by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Maria Stave. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.
Posted December 31, 2011