Anna sat on the flowered sofa with her baby daughter, Catherine, in her arms. She wanted to cry but could not find the strength. She hummed softly and rocked back and forth and wondered how she and little Cathy would get by with John so far away. He had hardly gotten to hold his daughter when the draft board called him to active duty. It was so unfair. Their life had just begun.
"War is never fair", John told her. "There is a madman in Europe and the whole world is in peril. I have to do my part. For you, Anna, and for Catherine."
She said she understood. But she didn't. She tried to stay busy and not imagine the sights and sounds of war, but it was everywhere she went. Newspapers and radios and supermarket lines. That's all people talked about.
Her heart felt heavy. She tried to be happy for the baby, but even that was impossible. Nothing could lighten her heart.
And then one day, her mother came by and brought an old trunk. Anna recognized the trunk right away. It had been in the attic of her mother's home while she was growing up.
It was an old army trunk. Faded green and locked. Anna had often wondered what was in it, but her mother would never talk about it.
"It's time to open this trunk, Anna. I've waited far too long."
Anna's heart was beating a little faster then normal as they sat down together and opened the lid. Anna was curious at what she saw. It was filled to the brim with fabric. Old fabric, cut into shapes and bundled together and some medals that had belonged to her father. And letters. There was a stack of letters, yellowed with time and tied with a thin blue ribbon.
"Anna, my mother gave me this fabric when your father went to fight in the first world war. It was 1917 and I was so young and scared and you were a little baby, like Catherine. Mama told me if I would pray while I worked on the quilt, it would ease my fears and allow hope to rise in my heart. Hope is the eyes of faith, Anna. It let's you believe and trust in things that only exist in your heart. When you do, God has a way of bringing them to pass. But I would not listen. I was bitter and angry that my perfect life was so interrupted by circumstances that were beyond my control. When your father didn't come home from the war...well, I just pushed it all down. I've had a hard life because of it, dear. I don't want that to happen to you and Catherine."
Anna was crying and tenderly touching the fabric, so neatly bundled in colorful stacks.
"I want to learn, mama. Will you teach me?
"Yes, dear. I'll come every day and we'll have this quilt stitched together real good by the time John comes home. And he will come home, Anna. It will be different for you and Catherine. Because hope does not disappoint. The good book teaches that, too."
The war lasted longer than anybody thought it would. Anna finished the quilt with her mother. They spent many days together praying and laughing and letting hope rise in their hearts.
John came home at last and Anna's mother passed away soon after. Little Catherine was nearly five by then...old enough to understand that grandma had gone to heaven. And old enough to work on her first quilt with her mama. Anna would teach her how to cut the fabric and thread a needle...and pray. And she would teach her about the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago.*
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