Cold winds blasted. Snow was flying. Thankfully the last of the garden was harvested.
Grandma cleared out the large room upstairs except for chairs, a cutting table, and the quilting frame. She set out thimbles, needles, thread, and scissors.
Grandma always looked forward to this time of year … the insects were gone but there was soon to be a buzz of activity in her house. For years it had been customary for women from the nearby farms to gather at the first snow.
As soon as she put her up last quart of tomatoes, she began preparing, looking for scraps of colorful fabrics with usable patterns and textures. The story that went with each scrap would be shared as the womenfolk busied themselves with quilting.
Early that first snowy morning, the upstairs room was busy with chatter. It was Allamae’s turn to decide the pattern for all quilts made this winter.
“I’ve waited for years for my turn to choose our pattern! I’ve got it, but let me tell you why I chose this particular pattern. Hezekiah came back from the field early this spring with a surprise. I knew something was up when I watched him walk from the barn. He had one of those silly grins on his face! I’ll tell you, ladies, I about fainted when he handed me a bouquet of flowers. He never did that in all our years together!”
Allamae and Hezekiah had been married 37 years. Their first years of marriage were marked with tragedy, having lost their three daughters in a dreadful fire.
Grandpa and Hezekiah were good friends, working closely together, taking turns going into town for supplies, sharing expenses for implements and machines. Grandma and Allamae were able to talk about anything … anything except Allamae’s broken heart. Since that horrifying day so many years ago, Hezekiah and Allamae struggled to understand how a loving God could take their three most precious possessions in such a tragic way.
“Ok, Allamae, what’s our pattern? Don’t keep us guessing!”
Grandma was the impatient type. She had to know everything!
“Hezekiah’s bouquets were so beautiful. And, not just once, but at least twice a week this whole summer! My living room began to look like a flower garden with fresh and blooming everywhere! I don’t know where he got them but …”
“Ok! Let’s make flower garden quilts this year!”
Allamae reached down in her bag and tenderly pulled out three tiny, carefully folded dresses as she began to share.
“This blue dress belonged to beautiful Lydia, our oldest … it brought out the blue in her beautiful eyes. She was five when …”
Everyone sat there stunned; Allamae never before spoke of her children.
“This little pink dress belonged to Natalie, our middle child … so, so precious. Her little cheeks matched the rosy pink in the flowers embroidered on the collar. She was four.”
Grandma’s eyes glistened with tears. Yes, something was different … Allamae was talking, sharing—opening up. She never heard her speak of the children in all the years of their endearing friendship.
“And, this white dress belonged to little Naomi, our youngest. She had just turned three. My mother made this little dress for her birthday just a week before...”
Choking back tears, almost unable to go on …
“… just a week before Jesus called our little ones home to Him. I never understood how He could pluck my three most prized possessions out of our lives so abruptly until Hezekiah brought that fist bouquet home to me this spring. Just as he plucked the flowers out of a beautiful garden, Jesus plucked our precious blooms from the garden of our lives.”
There wasn’t a dry eye in Grandma’s upstairs room as they listened to Allamae share about her children.
“Each time Hezekiah brought flowers, I was reminded my precious little girls were with Jesus … they were fragrant in their innocence, and they make Him smile every time He sees them. That’s why I want to make ‘flower garden’ quilts this year—a reminder that Hezekiah and I have a garden flourishing forever … precious blooms that never wilt or die.”
Allamae walked over to the table. With utmost care she began to cut her three little dresses into perfectly shaped pieces. The ladies joined her at the cutting table working out the pattern for a flower garden made with memories of the bouquet plucked from Hezekiah and Allamae’s “garden”.
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