The mother spread the ancient quilt across the bed of her daughter with loving hands. Handed down from mother to first-born daughter for more generations than the mother could easily remember, the quilt had graced the beds of family for more than a hundred years. The tradition was to pass the quilt to the daughter on the eve of her marriage.
But like all the mothers before her, this mother paused in smoothing out the quilt and recalled the origins of the family heirloom. Sitting on a corner of her daughter's bed, the woman thought back to the passage of the quilt from her mother to her on her wedding's eve.
As a young girl and then a young woman, she had thought often of the family's quilt tradition: Since she was the first-born daughter, she knew that she would receive the quilt the night before her marriage. The quilt had been stored in her mother's cedar chest, wrapped in plain white linen to protect it. As she grew older, she would often ask her mother to take out the quilt and let her look at it. However, the quilt was never spread out fully but only partially draped over her mother's bed. Her mother had taken the quilt from her bed on the day she was born and lovingly folded it for storage until she could pass it to her. This too was part of the quilt passage tradition. So for the 19 years since she was born, the quilt had never been fully spread on a bed.
It was such a special time! She was 19 and her betrothed was 20. She was a clerk in the small town's only bank and he worked at the local mill receiving, storing and eventually shipping out the corn and wheat from the region's farms. They had gone through school together and it was obvious to all who knew them that one day, they would marry. And they did.
And for the first three years of her marriage, the quilt provided warmth and comfort to her and her husband. Until the birth of their first daughter. Following the tradition of the family quilt, she too had removed the quilt from her bed, folded it and wrapped it in new linen and stored it in her cedar chest, awaiting her opportunity to pass it to her daughter.
As she sat on her daughter's bed, the mother thought of all the family women who had faithfully followed the family's tradition for the quilt. All the way back to the ancestor who had hand-fashioned the quilt so many years ago. On the wind-swept plains of Nebraska, the quilt was born in the hands of a loving young woman married to a farmer.
The young quilter loved her life, her caring husband and her two sons. Even though life in rural Nebraska in the late 1800's could be harsh, the quilter knew that their small farm house was graced by the most precious commodity of all: Love. But she and her husband longed for one thing more: A daughter. So she started working on a special quilt that she hoped would help her and her husband achieve the dream of a daughter.
Working with pieces of cloth saved from old and mostly worn-out clothes, she carefully cut out the pieces that she would lovingly craft into her favorite quilt pattern: The log cabin. The quilter had loved the log cabin pattern since first seeing one in her grandmother's home as a young girl. Her grandmother had told her that the log cabin was very special as it showed the importance of family and home. The young quilter had learned to quilt by watching and then helping her mother and grandmother fashion quilts for the family. And she had never forgotten what her grandmother had said about the log cabin quilt.
For her special quilt, she chose the log cabin pattern. Working at night after the many hard chores of daily life had been completed, the young quilter slowly fashioned her log cabin quilt. As she carefully chose each new piece of fabric, she thought of where it came from. A pair of pants that her husband had worn, a shirt from one of the boys. Even pieces from a dress made for her by her mother. Each piece had been salvaged from clothes that had reached the end of their useful lives and could no longer be patched or repaired for another season of wear.
As the young quilter lovingly fashioned her special quilt, each stitch she made brought back memories of her family, her mother and grandmother. It took months to complete the quilt. And finally, one day, it was completed. When her husband went into their bedroom that night, he saw for the first time, the completed quilt spread fully across their bed. It was a beautiful quilt.
Each night for the next year, the young quilter and her husband enjoyed the warmth and weight of the quilt. And then one morning, the young quilter knew that she was going to have a child. The next nine months were filled with anticipation by the young quilter. And then, in late February, her daughter was born. The young quilter and her husband were overjoyed to realize that their dream had been granted.
But before settling in for sleep, the young quilter asked her husband to remove the quilt from their bed and replace it with a quilt given her by her mother. So her husband removed the log cabin quilt from their bed, carefully folded it and placed it in their cedar chest. The young quilter explained that she intended to save the quilt for the wedding eve of their new-born daughter so she would be able to experience the same love of family and home that they had.
It was 17 years before the quilt was fully spread across a bed again. The mother spread the quilt across the bed of her daughter, Eve, on the night before her wedding. And the family tradition was born.
And now the tradition was continuing as the mother spread the quilt across her daughter, Eve's bed. And that too was a long family tradition: Every first-born daughter in the quilt's long heritage, was named Eve, either as a first or second name. Outsiders who heard of the family tradition that surrounded the quilt were always amazed to hear the story of the origin of the quilt and the dream it brought to that first generation. Quite often visitors asked to see this special quilt. And the quilt would be removed from it's linen wrap and draped across the bed. But never fully spread: It was not yet time.
And now 24 years after last being fully spread on a bed, the mother carefully smoothed the quilt across her daughter's bed. Tomorrow was her daughter's wedding day. So much had changed since the quilt was brought to life and the mother wondered if her daughter would appreciate and follow the quilt's tradition. She hoped so.