The Legacy of Milly, Part 8

In Part 7, the God Bless America quilt was delivered to the Massachusetts Fisher House in Boston.  The plan was to have a grand event and send-off, but the Director asked if Boston could have the quilt.  Headquarters not only agreed, they approved.  So, Milly and the children gave the quilt a memorable farewell, including singing our book for soldiers staying at the Fisher House.

Part 8

A month later, Beth who is the Director at the Fisher House called me.

“Jennie, the Fisher House will have its one-year anniversary in July.  When that happens, members of the Fisher family come to celebrate, along with many others.  It’s a big event.”

The only celebration  I knew of was that Congressional Medal of Honor recipients attend the grand opening of a new Fisher House.

Beth continued…

“We would like you, Milly, and the children to be the guests of honor.  The quilt will be the main event.”

Gulp!  I was taken aback.

“Beth, that is wonderful, but…”  I didn’t have a chance to finish the sentence.

“The invitations have just gone out.  The quilt is the main feature on the invitation.”

Oh my goodness. There it was, Home Sweet Home, right on the invitation.

I couldn’t wait to tell Milly.

“Jennie, there’s one more thing.  We’d like the children to sing “God Bless America” and present the quilt to the Fisher family and guests.”

Another gulp!  This was big.  Much bigger than I expected.  It took a while to sink in.  The quilt was as important to the Fisher House as it was to Milly and to me and to the children.

Milly was as surprised as I was… and just as delighted.

I notified families.  Many children were able to attend.  We all stood in front of the quilt, in front of a big audience.  Big.  I gave an impromptu speech, telling the guests about the evolution of the quilt.  I told them about the children singing, and how they needed more. I told them about Milly and how she made the words come alive with the quilt.

You could have heard a pin drop.  They wanted more.

I decided to recite the words to the song and point out each part on the quilt as I said the words.  I was all over the place- talking, walking and pointing.  It was much the same as when I read aloud chapter books.  No words were necessary from the audience, their faces said it all.

Then Milly and the children sang their hearts out.  Oh, how they sang! We received a huge round of applause.  That broke the ice, and the thanks and handshakes and smiles exploded.

A  Fisher Foundation Vice President approached Milly with a handshake, pressing something into her hand.  I knew exactly what was happening- she was giving Milly a Command (Challenge) Coin!  I was humbled to witness this happening.  I watched the ‘secret handshake’, which appears to the naked eye to be  a simple exchange of respect, yet holds the surprise of the coin for the recipient.  I understood.  I told Milly all about Command Coins afterwards.  This would mean far more to her than I realized.  Her last words to me years later were about that coin (later post).

Getty Images

The letters of thanks poured in.  And then Milly became sick.  Kidney failure.
She was still the same Milly on the inside.  I asked her to do another quilt
about our school, our towns.  Everyone wanted a quilt to hang at school.
The next adventure began.  Stay tuned for Part 9.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five 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 was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
This entry was posted in art, Early Education, Imagination, Inspiration, military, patriotism, quilting, Singing, The Arts, wonder, young children and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to The Legacy of Milly, Part 8

  1. Darlene says:

    What a special event for all of you and with your excellent presentations skills, I know everyone enjoyed it. I do think you need to take all these Millie blog posts and combine them into a book one day.

  2. beetleypete says:

    Your words took me there with you, to that memorable occasion. Then the sadness of Milly’s diagnosis, even though I already knew what the end will be. Moving indeed, Jennie.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  3. TanGental says:

    Goodness you know how to engender a red eye or two… delightful

  4. Ritu says:

    This is just precious Jennie 😍

  5. srbottch says:

    And the saga continues. A wonderful narrative, Jennie.

  6. What a wonderful way to honor Millie, you, and the children. Thanks for sharing.

  7. What a wonderful experience for Milly. Having another quilt to do gives one reason to continue on in spite of the illness. I’m sure all of this meant so much to her. Probably more than most would realize. You do inspire.

  8. I too agree with Darlene-this is a sweet book!

  9. This part really should have come with an advisory notice that one needed to have tissue at hand, and be prepared for tears welling up in the eyes, and huge lump in the throat! OMG! This is so touching! WOW! Oh, goosebumps are also to be expected! WOW!

  10. Dan Antion says:

    That must have been an amazing evening. This story is so uplifting, Jennie. Thank you for sharing it. I think Milly would feel honored.

  11. Dear Jennie, you brought this post to life beautifully. It was so exciting — I felt I was there.
    To have these memories, these milestones in your teaching career… what a wonderful thing. Hugs on the wing.

  12. Oh My Goodness, what a beautiful honour for you all, I had pinpricks of tears behind my eyelids Jenny as I felt your own emotion as you told the tale.. You told it so well I could see the Quilt, the handshake and then the children bursting into Song, And the audience sat in silence listening to every word as you explained the Quilt..
    Beautiful post Jennie 😀 and Yet More to Come what a treat. ❤

  13. This is another wonderful post, Jennie. It just keeps getting better and better.

  14. Norah says:

    What a wonderful honour for you, Milly and the children, Jennie. Memories to treasure for the children, for all of you. I’m sorry to hear Milly is not well, but pleased to hear there is a new project on the way.

  15. dgkaye says:

    Jennie, this story is like a fairytale. You should make it into a children’s book. What an amazing thing to be part of history with the quilt, Milly and the kids. ❤

  16. Sarah says:

    Oh how I wished I could have been there and hear them sing! Just reading about it gave me goosebumps!

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