18: A Patchwork of Hope

18: A Patchwork of Hope

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Touched by an Angel

A Patchwork of Hope

A quilt will warm your body and comfort your soul.

~Author Unknown

In February 2005, my daughter Julie and son-in-law Mike died in a motorcycle accident. I was stunned and grief-stricken, but the heartache my young grandchildren suffered after losing both parents was unimaginable.

While my husband Walt and I struggled to make sense of it all, family and friends asked, “What’s going to happen to the kids?”

In the middle of making funeral arrangements, Walt and I vowed to do whatever it took to raise ten-year-old Cari and six-year-old Michael. After petitioning the courts, we became our grandchildren’s legal guardians.

The first few weeks were a blur as we struggled to stitch together the ragged pieces of our lives. A grief counselor advised us to keep Cari and Michael’s routines as normal as possible to help them feel loved and secure. Rather than having the children change schools in the middle of the year, I moved into their home. At mealtimes, I prepared dishes their mom used to make; one breakfast favorite was Julie’s hot cinnamon rolls.

And each night, I read bedtime stories before we folded our hands and remembered their mom and dad in prayer. Then each morning we recited the Guardian Angel Prayer, just as I had with Julie when she was a child:

Angel of God, my Guardian Dear,

To whom God’s love commits me here,

Ever this day, be at my side,

To light, to guard, to rule and guide.

After hugging and kissing Cari and Michael goodnight, I tucked them into their beds underneath one of their mom’s quilts.

As a teenager, Julie began collecting quilts after I won an embroidered blue-and-white one for her at a church picnic. Over the next twenty-plus years, I won several for her at local socials, fairs, and festivals. Those hand-stitched quilts had a special place in my daughter’s home — and heart.

Months after the accident, we moved Cari and Michael into our home, along with their furniture, clothes, toys, and other belongings. We didn’t have space to fit everything, but we made room for Julie’s collection of quilts. In each of my grandkids’ new rooms, their beds were covered with one of their mom’s brightly-colored quilts, which I rotated each season.

When Cari turned twelve, she announced she wanted to paint and redecorate her room. I asked which of her mom’s quilts she wanted to use after we were finished and was surprised when she told me she wanted a quilt of her own.

Realizing she was almost a teenager with her own tastes and style, I hugged her and said, “Sweetie, we’ll go shopping to find one you like.”

“I don’t want one you can buy in a store,” she said. “I want you to win one for me like you did for Mom.”

Choking back tears, I said, “That won’t be easy, but I’ll try.”

I became a woman on a mission, buying chances and raffle tickets, wishing for good luck, with no success.

By late 2009 I’d almost given up hope when I entered the megaraffle at our parish’s fall craft fair, a huge countywide event Julie and I had attended each November. The raffle featured a dozen giveaways, including the top prize everyone coveted — a queen-sized, hand-stitched patchwork quilt.

Because the craft fair fell on what would’ve been my daughter’s fortieth birthday, I couldn’t bring myself to go. The memory of attending past craft fairs with Julie would be too painful. Instead, I bought my chances in advance.

While admiring the handiwork on display in the parish gymnasium, I printed my name on the tickets. As I dropped my tickets into the huge wire barrel, I whispered a prayer to my guardian angel, “Angel of God, my Guardian Dear….”

The day of the craft fair not only fell on Julie’s birthday, it also coincided with opening day of deer season, so Walt and Michael went hunting. Cari was spending the day with a friend.

My sisters Kathleen and Bridget and niece Angie tried to convince me to go the fair with them. Knowing I wouldn’t be good company, I declined and moped around the house, missing my daughter more than ever.

Shortly after five o’clock, the phone rang.

“You won a raffle prize,” a weary voice said. “We’ll be here for about half an hour if you want to pick it up today.”

When I arrived at the Parish Center, I spotted a woman sitting behind a long table. Nearby sat the big barrel crammed with thousands of raffle tickets.

When I identified myself, the woman pointed to a large black plastic bag. “Congratulations,” she said.

“What did I win?” I asked.

When she answered, “the quilt,” I burst into tears of joy.

Staring at the giant container crammed with tickets, I couldn’t believe how fortunate I was that mine was the one drawn for the big prize. And I felt especially lucky to have won the quilt for Cari on her mom’s birthday.

Then it dawned on me. Winning the quilt for my granddaughter on my daughter’s birthday wasn’t a coincidence. And it wasn’t because of my good luck; I had help from an angel.

Cari’s quilt is a homespun beauty, unlike any other in her mom’s collection. Scraps of fabric in various colors, shapes, and patterns — once part of something else — had been carefully pieced together and transformed into a loving creation.

The patchwork quilt is a one-of-a kind work of art that provides comfort, warmth, beauty, and hope — a guardian angel’s answer to a grandmother’s prayer.

~Donna Volkenannt

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