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).

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 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 America, Early Education, geography, Giving, Inspiration, military, patriotism, preschool, quilting, Singing, Teaching young children, The Arts and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

56 Responses to Milly – Part 8

  1. Ritu says:

    I get emotional reading Milly’s journey with you x

  2. Norah says:

    This is such a wonderful story, Jennie. I’m looking forward to the next chapter already. It is a chapter book, isn’t it? I’m sure all your families over the years would love a printed copy.

  3. beetleypete says:

    It doesn’t matter that I already know the outcome. I still feel the mix of emotions in every word.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  4. This continues to be such an inspirational story Jennie.

  5. beth says:

    This gave me chills

  6. Aw, how lovely for Milly to get the coin, I’m staying tuned!

  7. quiall says:

    I do so love it when the right people get recognized for how much they contribute to our world.

  8. Congratulations, Jennie! A well deserved invitation! I am sure the students will never forget. Best wishes, Michael

  9. Dan Antion says:

    That was a lovely gesture to Milly. This whole storyy has been heartwarming, Jennie.

    • Jennie says:

      I’m glad you’re enjoying this, Dan. In the last episode I ask Milly what she remembers most of all the quilting adventures, and the first thing she talked about was the Command Coin.

  10. Oh man, I’m tearing up…hang on I need to clear out this lump in my throat. This is so moving and wonderful, Jennie!!

  11. Oh my, thanks for touching our hearts in so many ways… 💞

  12. Don Ostertag says:

    What a warm/sad chapter of the quilt, Jennie.

  13. Yes, just like life – ups and downs. What a great project, but I’m sorry Milly got sick.

  14. This is a great story, Jennie. I love reading it.

  15. Darlene says:

    Such a wonderful story. So moving and uplifting. I really think you should eventually publish this as a novel.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Darlene! Your words mean a lot. You’re the second person who thinks this series should be published as a book. I will remember that!

  16. petespringerauthor says:

    Happiness and sadness all rolled into one. Something you and the kids will never forget. I was unfamiliar with Command Coins until your post.

  17. What a journey, Jennie. Heartwarming, enduring, and a bit of aching there at the end of this part.

  18. Lovely to read this post and learn about this great day and the coin that Milly received.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Robbie. It was quite a day! Milly talks about the Command Coin (much time has passed) in the final episode, #10. The next part, #9, will post tomorrow morning. As an aside, reliving this whole quilting journey with Milly has been a great pleasure for me. The memories are strong and oh so wonderful.

  19. Jermena says:

    Wowwww Jennie! Who could have guessed in those early days of your innocent ideas with your children that this would go so far… and so wonderfully!
    We give thanks to God❤️

  20. Carla says:

    This is such a wonderful story and journey, Jennie. I am getting teary with the knowledge of what might be coming next.

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