Most nights, Alfred Green still cries. He keeps a single lantern lit to provide a dim glow and finds a certain comfort in the creaking patterns that persist from the old wooden rocking chair; sounds which he once despised just yesterday, it would seem.
With a frail hand he, once again, grasps tightly the neatly folded quilt draped over the arm of the chair, careful to avoid the needle woven once through the unfinished blanket. Conflicting feelings of both warmth and guilt seem to resonate from this one reminder of his dear Anna. This particular quilt was meant for little Sarah, but due to the unexpected death of this dear quilt maker, Sarah’s quilt remains unfinished.
To a certain group of heavy hearted children, Anna Green was affectionately known as the “quilt lady”, a title she certainly owned with joy. It was a delightful endeavor and not a burden at all, to sew a quilt for every new child at the Hansen Orphanage. Alfred, too, has fond memories of children, though broken inside, beaming with great happiness at the satisfied anticipation built by the other children telling of the great day when the quilt lady would arrive.
“Every quilt is unique, just like you” she would tell each child. There were so many different patterns in each quilt. “There is no other exactly like it in the world”, she would continue, “except for this one square”, pointing to a single green square, always stitched into the corner of each quilt. “Do you know what it says?” she would ask, about the embroidered words on the green square.
“God loves me”, they would respond. Anna loved to hear the children say those words. For her, it was more important that the child remember those words than her kindness.
“That’s right, and He will never leave you. Be comforted, child. Be warm. God loves you.”
But for 8 year old Sarah, her anticipation was met with sadness, as she learned that the quilt lady had become very ill and passed on. For her, there would be no knock on the door, no children gathering at the feet of the quilt lady as she shared of God’s love, no bright smiles as she read the embroidered green square. For this little girl, there would be no quilt.
For many days, Sarah could be found staring out the window, occasionally wiping her damp cheeks as she hoped that her quilt, with the special green square, would somehow arrive.
Alfred had watched Anna stitch squares into quilts so many times, he often considered an attempt to finish Sarah’s quilt. But the sadness of her passing and the comfort of the unfinished quilt, especially on the eve of the 10 years since her death, kept him from so much as unfolding it. He missed her kindness; he missed her love of God, though he always felt that God must not love a man whom he takes from. Tonight, with moist eyes and a sad heart, he will sleep in Anna’s chair.
As the morning light dissolved shadows cast across the old floor timbers, Alfred was awakened by a knock on the door. Using his cane, he slowly made his way to the door. “Who is it?” he said, in an uninviting tone.
“Mr. Green?” a woman’s voice inquired.
“Yes. Who is it I said?”, he responded with greater irritation.
“Mr. Green, my name is Sarah”. The ensuing silence seemed endless. Alfred slowly unlatched the door and pulled it open. “Mr. Green, you may not remember me, but I was 8 years old when I was brought to the orphanage. The quilt lady, sorry, Mrs. Green made lovely quilts for all of the children”, she continued, “I was very sad when she passed, and was not fortunate to receive one”.
Having softened his tone, Alfred replied, “Yes child, I’m very sorry. She was...,”
“Oh no, Mr. Green, it’s fine!” Sarah eagerly interjected, “I just - I brought a gift for you. You see, while I was sad, the other children each unstitched their green squares and sewed them together to make a quilt for me”. A tear fell from Alfred’s eyes. “I wanted to give it to you, now” she said softly. “Do you recall what the green squares say?” she inquired.
“Yes,” he answered with a quivering voice and tears filling his eyes, “God loves me.”
Sarah handed the folded green quilt to Alfred; “Be comforted sir. Be warm. God loves you.”
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