The Legacy of Milly, Part 9

In Part 8, Milly and the children were guests of honor at the one-year anniversary of the Boston Fisher House.  With a full crowd in attendance, including members of the Fisher family, we presented the God Bless America quilt.  And, a Command (Challenge) Coin was pressed into Milly’s hand.  Shortly thereafter Milly became sick.

Part 9

The following year Milly made many trips to school, playing with children.  Gloria was always thrilled to see her BFF.

Milly taught the children how to sew, using plastic needles and yarn on cardboard punched with holes.  She was the queen of Go Fish and Bingo.  Every Milly visit was a very good day at school.  Often the children made things for Milly.  We were in the middle of learning about kings and queens, and children wanted to make Milly her own crown.

Our director had always wanted a Milly quilt at school.  Well, everyone did.  And so, Milly and the children designed a beautiful quilt that had everything important to the children- our school, the playground, rail trail, library, Johnson’s ice cream, our school’s Peace Pole and dove, on and on.

The quilt took a good part of the school year to make.  Children especially loved picking and adding buttons as windows in the houses.  The following fall the quilt was ready.  It is called “Our Towns.”  We had a lovely celebration at school!  The quilt hangs ‘front and center’ in the main hallway at school.

And that year we welcomed a new baby guinea pig, Ella the Fella.  He brought so much love and kindness to the children.  Things started to grow yet again when we learned a new song, “Bells of Peace.”  This song became the hit of the year and continues to be a favorite to this day.  Then there was “From the Seed in the Ground”, another wonderful song.  That school year seemed to be filled with extra joy, giving, and caring.  It felt good.

Peace was creeping in again…

Every May my husband and I take Milly to her favorite restaurant for her birthday dinner.  Milly’s classroom visits had dwindled, as she was now getting dialysis three times a week, and walking was very difficult for her.  Asking her to do more at school was, well, nervy at best.  After a (large) glass of wine, I summoned up my courage.

“Milly, remember the Peace Quilt?  Wasn’t that one of the best?”

Milly smiled.  “Yes, it was.”

So, I just plunged right in and said it.  “The children absolutely love peace.  This past year it has been big.  Really big.  Milly, I want us to make another Peace Quilt.  What do you think?  Can we do this again?”  I think I ordered another glass of wine.

Milly never hesitated.  She said, “I think that would be wonderful.  I’d love to!”

Here we go again!

Milly’s first visit in the fall was nothing short of wonderful.  She arrived wearing a costume.  And she gave the costume to Gloria.  That was fun.  And, ‘so Milly’!

Then we went to work!  Children brainstormed their ideas.  Milly had been listening carefully.  The wheels were turning in her head.  Suddenly, she had an epiphany!  It was the best idea of all:

“These images of peace are seen through the eyes of children.  Why not make the quilt showing children and their family looking outside, through a window, at all these images?”

Brillant!  And, just perfect.  This was our sketch:

Three children and their family looking at dancing, reading, playing, the ocean, a new baby, hearts falling from a tree, butterflies…

Milly did her magic with the children.  Every little thing was a work of art.  The little girl’s pony tail was 3-D, the hearts – every one – were puffy and raised, the swings were made with real, tiny chains, the butterfly wings actually flew.  And at every visit the children hovered, watching in fascination, as their ideas came to life.  It was a wonder!

The quilt was finished at last.

But things were far from over.  I bumped into a past parent whose child had been part of the first Peace Quilt.  She knew nothing of the new quilt.  The conversation went something like this:

“Hi, Jennie!  Have you made any more quilts with Milly?  I’ll never forget going to Philadelphia with the Peace Quilt.  We still talk about that.  It was amazing.”

So I told her about Milly and the quilts we had made together.

“Rosanna, we have just made another Peace Quilt!  It is stunning, with children and family looking out a window at Peace.”

“Another one?  Wow!  Jennie, I told you before that the first one needed to go to the White House. That’s really what needs to happen with the new one.  The world needs peace now more than ever.”

And the lightbulb went off!  Oh, did it ever!  I knew where this quilt needed to be.  Not the White House.  Better!  Stayed tuned for Part 10, the grand finalé.


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, Gloria, Imagination, Inspiration, Kindness, Love, Peace, quilting, Singing, Teaching young children, The Arts, wonder and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

58 Responses to The Legacy of Milly, Part 9

  1. Can’t wait for episode 10. This quilt looks amazing. Thanks for sharing Jennie

  2. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    This is the latest entry in Jennie’s wonderful series.

  3. Meg says:

    I have followed all of your posts about Millie. How wonderful that she became such a part of your classroom’s life. What kindness she showed to the kids as she gave so much of herself and her time! Such a creative community/partnership. Reading these posts has been a real, uplifting gift.
    Thank you.

  4. I think you asking her to make another quilt could have added more time to her clock. Many stay longer because they are needed and she felt needed. This warms my heart so much. I can hardly wait to hear when this quilt went. This story will be a wonderful book too.

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks so much, Marlene. Asking Milly to make another quilt definitely kept her going. She was in her element. And I think it will make a good book one day. 🙂

  5. Ritu says:

    I am so excited to read where the second peace quilt went!!!

  6. beetleypete says:

    Milly and Gloria together. Two iconic characters, and so much a part of the heart of your school.
    The story keeps on getting better, but knowing the ending still makes me sad.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  7. TanGental says:

    You do do cliff hangers very well

  8. Norah says:

    Such a beautiful quilt, such an exciting story. Jennie, I can’t wait for episode 10.

  9. Opher says:

    So brilliant – such a legacy.

  10. Jennie, these episodes are so wonderful. I’m happy that you decided to go into more detail with your memories of Millie. The children’s reaction to her is priceless — I love that photo. Can’t wait to see where the new quilt goes. Have a thriving Thursday! Hugs

  11. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Time to catch up with the wonderful story of Milly and the quilts that she and the children in Jennie Fitzkee’s pre-school class made together. The glorious story continues, despite Milly’s ill health.. you can catch up on the previous posts on this incredible story by following the links #Recommended.

  12. srbottch says:

    Boy, Jennie, Milly sure had a lot of energy and enthusiasm when it came to getting creative. I think her involvement with you and the kids surely improved her quality of life, considering the health hardships she was experiencing. And ‘Go Fish’, I haven’t heard that in years. Back on ‘pins and needles’, again…👍

    • Jennie says:

      Milly’s granddaughter has told me that making the quilts with the children, especially this last one, gave her so much in her life. That is a wonderful thing. Tomorrow is her funeral… at least I can give all these stories to her family. Thank you, Steve.

      • srbottch says:

        Jennie, one never knows when and where a friendship will develop. You, the children and Millie are a great example of that. And as we age, those bonds are just as important as when we were kids. You, the children and Millie are a fine example of that. Look at all the happiness that resulted. Nice work, Jennie and all the kids. And to Millie, RIP!

      • Jennie says:

        That’s so nice, Steve. Your words ring true. Thank you. 😊

  13. Darlene says:

    Another quilt!! This is amazing. The story just gets better and better!!

  14. Leave me on a cliffhanger will you? Luckily I subscribe!

  15. sjhigbee says:

    What an amazing lady! But also I’m aware that your intervention and encouragement has been key to bring Milly into the children’s lives – you are also remarkable…

  16. dgkaye says:

    What a beautiful thing you all started with the quilts that will live on with their stories long after everyone has left the school. I think you gave Milly a purpose in her aging and sickly years Jennie. What a story! Looking forward to the finale – erm, maybe I’m afraid of the ending? 🙂

  17. Sarah says:

    Oh! Another Peace quilt! How wonderful! ☺

  18. Dan Antion says:

    This continuing story has been a wonderful part of simmer, Jennie. Sorry to be late, I’m taking advantage of the rainy day to catch up on my reading.

  19. Another chapter that gave me goosebumps! The new quilt is lovely!

    I’m looking forward to the Grand Finale!

  20. swamiyesudas says:

    This is Powerful, my Dear Jennie! It made me go to first post of this series. …I already have a lot of ideas. Reading Your posts, and things like the contributions of Milly, gives me more. But our schools (and the whole so called education system), want just the ‘syllabus’ to be completed, which duly gets done. …But the Children know Nothing. Very, Very Sad.

  21. For me, Jennie, this quilt is the most amazing of them all. I have goosebumps looking at it.

  22. jjspina says:

    What beautiful quilts, Jennie. Millie is a special person to do all that for the children. They are so fortunate to have had her in their lives. Thank you for sharing this lovely post. Hugs xx I look forward to the last installment.

  23. Oh, I love that quilt, too, so beautiful!

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