The Legacy of Milly, Part 2

In Part 1, I discovered a Peace Portal at a museum and recreated it in my classroom.  Peace became a big deal and very real to children.  When I saw quilts that were murals, I knew I had to make a Peace Quilt with children.  The only problem was finding a quilter.  At last I met Milly.  It was an unexpected meeting.

Part 2

“Milly is the best quilter, not just in town but everywhere.” said the director of the Senior Center.

“Great!  When can I stop by and meet her?”

“She’ll be here on Wednesday with her quilting group.”

Wednesday couldn’t come fast enough for me.  As soon as school was over, I was there.  I walked over to Milly and introduced myself.  She smiled (sort of) and I bounced around, telling her all about the Haitian quilts I had seen at the Bennington Museum.  I was so excited!  I showed her photos of the quilts, spewing story after story of each one and their art.  I noticed that the other quilters were looking down at their work, sewing like mad, as if making eye contact with me would bring a plague upon the group.

The more I talked, the faster they sewed, and the lower their heads dropped.  All six of them.  Hmm…  Milly hadn’t said a word.  Not One Word.  It occurred to me that perhaps I was behaving like a child who had been let loose in an amusement park.  But, this was such a terrific idea.  And those quilts were stunning.  Each one told a story.  Here are but a few:

I finally stopped, not sure what else to say.  Clearly I had overwhelmed if not alienated Milly and her fellow quilters.  I put the brakes on and told Milly all about the Peace Portal, and how making a Peace Quilt would be the culmination of all we had done in the classroom.  I held my breath.  I asked, “So what do you think?”

Milly quietly put down her sewing.  I’ll never forget what she said to me, her very first words:

“I am a traditional quilter.  I quilt blocks, squares.  I have never seen or done any quilting like that.  This would be completely new and different – a challenge – and I’d like that challenge.  Yes, I will do this.”

And so, a Peace Quilt was about to be created.  First, the children had to design the quilt. What does Peace look like?  How does Peace make you feel?  How was I going to link that concept of Peace to a quilt?  How would I start?  What would I say to children?  After all, the Peace Portal was last year, and many of the children were new.  And then it came to me.  I knew right away.

Of course… Gloria!

Yes!  Gloria has a blanket.  We always called it her blankie.  What if she wanted to call it her quilt, her Peace Quilt, because it makes her feel so good…peaceful.  Brilliant, Gloria.

Milly came to meet the children, meet Gloria, and hear all about her idea.  I have never seen a friendship develop so quickly.  Milly and Gloria hit it off right from the start.  We gathered for a group meeting. The conversation went something like this:

Gloria (she’s a little frustrated):  “Everybody calls this my blankie, but it’s not.  I love this. But, it’s a Peace Quilt, not a blankie.

Long pause.  Then Gloria continued.

It makes me feel good.  I love snuggling with my Peace Quilt.  Look at all the pictures.  See, there’s a puppy, and lambs.  Look at the pink.  I like pink.  And the best part is the back with all the stars.  When I go to sleep at night, I have my stars right with me.  This is my Peace Quilt.

Wow!  You could have heard a pin drop.  Gloria asked, “What do you like on my Peace Quilt?”  Fifteen children descended on her, each one wanting to look.  After all, they were now really looking at the quilt as if they had never seen it before.  It was amazing what they saw.  And yes, the stars were the most popular.  Gloria then turned to Milly and said “Hi.”  They stared at each other.  Just stared.  Then Gloria spontaneously gave Milly a snuggle in her neck.  Milly grinned from ear to ear.  “What do you think, Milly?  What do you like?”  They had a long and lively discussion.  Children watched.  Gloria said, “We could make our own Peace Quilt!  What do you think?”  “Yes we can, Gloria.” said Milly.

Over the next week we pooled together all of our ideas.  Children had terrific ideas of Peace!  They understood.  Gloria had helped them to do that.

Little baby peeping chicks
Stars (many votes)
My heart
Ocean of blue and green
The color yellow
Autumn Tree
White Triangles
Big Star
Truck that goes vroom

We rolled up our sleeves, rolled out the big paper to sketch our ideas, opened our hearts, and got to work!  A classroom parent and artist came in put all the ideas of Peace onto paper.  Not an easy task when the children are in charge.

Little did I know how the sketch would look, much less the quilt.  And then, what would happen with the quilt?  How would Milly do this with the children?  More importantly, would she connect with children?  Stay tuned for Part 3. 


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in Early Education, Imagination, Inspiration, museums, Peace, quilting, The Arts, wonder and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

72 Responses to The Legacy of Milly, Part 2

  1. Jennie, I’m so glad you are sharing the details of this story. I’m sure it must hurt with the grief so fresh, but I expect it feels good to be able to keep this wonderful thing going. Hugs on the wing, my friend.

  2. beetleypete says:

    I can sense your enthusiasm and delight in every word, Jennie.
    Milly worked well with Gloria too. She really ‘got it’.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  3. Ritu says:

    I absolutely love this story about Milly and your quilts!!!

  4. Opher says:

    Fabulous – and those quilts are just amazing!

  5. Sarah says:

    Thank you so much for sharing how it all came together, Jennie. I can absolutely relate to your enthusiasm when you first visited Milly and her group – I often behave equally enthusiastic and sometimes need to reign in myself. 😉 Looking forward to part 3!

  6. That is beyond amazing. I love how you barreled forward, despite the silence. Me, I probably would have given up way sooner!

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks, Jacqui. I did barrel forward, in spite of the fact that I am often meek and don’t like to make a scene. I’m so glad you enjoyed the story.

  7. Niki Flow says:

    Such charming and lovely reads so far. I can’t wait to share your ideas with my daughter and granddaughters. They love to create. Perhaps we can do this together across the very big pond that separates us. (They live in the UK, I in the US). Thank you for these beautiful posts.. ♥.

  8. This is a great story, Jennie. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Dan Antion says:

    I’m glad you are sharing this story. It’s good to get to know Milly and how this all came together. I was smiling and worried as you shared the part about first meeting Milly – I could imagine you going on.

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks, Dan. This is becoming more than I expected, certainly not the three episodes I had anticipated. Like you, I’m glad I’m sharing the story, as a complete story. Nice to know you were smiling and worried. 🙂

  10. Darlene says:

    I am so loving this story. Millie and Gloria. What a great team!

  11. Oh, this made me smile, Jennie. I love the way you snagged Millie with your enthusiasm and how she was willing to try something new. I would have liked to be a fly on the wall as Gloria and Millie talked about the quilt and then how the children jumped in with their idea. Can’t wait to read more. ❤

  12. Quite an exercise you embarked on, Jennie. I made a collage with the kids at Sunday School and that was an effort, a quilt takes it to a new level. I must try and find a photograph of the quilt my Dad made for our Grannie. It was quite lovely.

    • Jennie says:

      A collage can be intricate. I know what you mean. At school we made a Brown Bear, Brown Bear collage and it took forever. Milly was excited to do the quilt work, and my appreciation for her skill is still strong. I’d love to see the photo of your Grannie’s quilt.

  13. Annika Perry says:

    Jennie, this is one of the most moving posts I’ve read – just wonderful. The interaction of Gloria and Milly is superbly written and the children’s awe and then immediate interest and suggestions is Deeply touching. I will never look at a quilt the same again. Can’t wait for part 3. Hugs, my friend xx

    • Jennie says:

      My goodness, Annika! Thank you for your kind words. I’m so glad you enjoyed the story, particularly the Milly and Gloria connection. It was a ‘hold my breath’ moment, not knowing how Milly would react. And the children took it all in. Much more to come! Hugs to you, my friend. 🙂

  14. Bernadette says:

    I love Milly’s gentle heart already. I am sure her death has left a hole in your heart.

  15. This is a beautiful story in the making. I can hardly wait to see how the Peace Quilt comes out. 🙂

  16. I’d be willing to bet that Gloria was an inspiration to Milly – especially as she undertook the personal challenge of this quilt project.
    It seems Milly was a ‘life-long learner’ wouldn’t you agree?

  17. I can certainly see why you were bouncing up and down as you described the Haitian quilts, they are gorgeous! Nice to hear how your wonderful project all came together.

  18. dgkaye says:

    What a beautiful idea Jennie. The quilts are gorgeous. So sad about Milly, but what a gift to have in remembrance. 🙂 x

  19. Fantastic Jennie and such a wonderful way to encourage the children to envisage how peace would look like.. I have pressed for today and will do likewise with part three for tomorrow..hugsx

  20. Pingback: The Legacy of Milly, Part 2 | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  21. ren says:

    You are a splendid co-creator!
    Love and hugz….

  22. I can hardly put into words the enchanting conversation with Gloria, Milly, and the children so in awe of the idea of a peace quilt as the gazed intently at Gloria’s “peace quilt” aka her blankie.

    • Jennie says:

      Karen, I just saw you comments, and realize you’re reading all the episodes (thus far). That’s a fun way to get into the story! 4 Parts so far, and the next adventure is unfolding in Part 5. Thank you so much. Your comments and support are so appreciated. Happy reading!

      • Jennie, I have been going up to Charlotte, NC, for several months every two weeks because of a terrible illness in my family and so I am reading my favorite blogs as I can. I am so glad I didn’t miss this story. 🙂

      • Jennie says:

        I’m so sorry, Karen. It must be both hard and heartfelt to be making that trip every two weeks. I don’t know how you fit in time to write, much less read blogs. I am honored that you read these Milly stories. Best to you, my friend. ❤️

      • Jennie, thank you so much, my friend. Karen 🙂

      • Jennie says:

        You are most welcome! 🙂

  23. There was so much at work here to bring the perfect quilter, artists and children together with you as their teacher to make all this come to life. Even Gloria has really come to life here. Karen used the word, Enchanting, like magic. Millie could have been like her other quilters and put her eyes down and wanted no part of something outside her wheelhouse. She stretched herself and now she is being immortalized by you. What a wonderful legacy!! You know that your heart created all of this, right?

    • Jennie says:

      Yes, the coming together really started to happen. Gloria was the perfect one to introduce the quilt. I knew, coming from Gloria, that the children would think it was wonderful. I did not know how Milly would react, so that was an extra blessing. Can you imagine how those other quilters would have reacted to Gloria? I knew from that point forward how special and remarkable Milly was. I do think my heart was the creation ❤️. I just had to make sure my head paid close attention to the children so the quilt was on the right path. Thank you so much, Marlene! 😀

  24. What amazing quilts and I can see why Milly is the BEST there is.. 🙂 I so so enjoyed reading this story and look forward to its conclusion parts yet to come.. ❤

  25. Norah says:

    This is so exciting, Jennie. Learning for the children, and for Milly too. Gloria has a great heart. She must have had a great nurturer.

  26. Reblogged this on K. D. Dowdall and commented:
    Part 2 of The Legacy of Milly and the beginning of the design of the quilt with the children and Milly hard at work. A work of love!

  27. Pingback: The Legacy of Milly, Part 2 | K. D. Dowdall

  28. nice quilts! i would have to say the first one is my fave!!

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