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.
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.
“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).
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.