Milly’s Epilogue

This card was passed out at the memorial service.

It’s an odd thing to say that a eulogy was inspirational.  Yet for Milly, how could it be anything less?  And, it’s unusual to laugh out loud at the words the minister says about someone who is deceased.  But again, when it comes to Milly…

It happened like this:

Milly’s funeral, a memorial service, was held in an old New England church – 250 years old to be exact – in pouring rain and humidity that felt like I was sitting in the rain.  My husband and I arrived quite early, only to discover everyone else had the same idea.  The church was packed.  Sardines in a sauna.  The minister was a young man who didn’t know Milly well.  He began by telling the congregation of his first meeting with Milly.

“Where’s my quilt?” Milly asked me.  I’ve had plenty of odd questions, but that one took the cake.  Here I was, new to the church, and this woman comes right up to me and asks about her quilt.  What quilt?

Everyone is laughing!  And the minister continues.

You see, Milly had made a huge quilt for the 250th anniversary of the church.  I had no idea, but Milly told me all about it.  And, where was it?  After months of searching, the quilt was found tucked away in a box during renovations.  We found her quilt four days after she died.  It now hangs again.

I look around and see the faces of many quilters and friends.  Milly is at peace.  Be sad if you must, but she would want you to celebrate her life.  She is at peace.

Peace!  Of course.  No wonder the Peace Quilts we made together are wonderful.  That was Milly.  Yup!

A church that was full of quilters knew the story he told.  I didn’t.  After all, my time with Milly was only in the last ten years.  I looked around and thought of all the experiences and quilting she, and they, must have had.  I felt like a little girl at Thanksgiving listening to all the stories the grown-ups told.  And so, I listened.

Milly’s son gave the eulogy.  He pointed out two quilts displayed in front of the alter alongside all the flowers.  One was the first quilt he had as a child.  The other was a recent one.

Mom made it this year, and I asked her if I could have it.  I’ve never asked her for a quilt.  She was so happy.  So now I have two, one from the beginning of my life, and one from the end of hers.

When Mom first became sick and was rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital, I spent that night with her.  She told me story after story, things I’d never known.  She was happy.  Afterwards, she had no recollection of that night nor the stories she had told.

I had witnessed her soul.

My mother can be described in one word. Love.

Yes, she can.


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 Death and dying, Expressing words and feelings, Giving thanks, Inspiration, quilting and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

74 Responses to Milly’s Epilogue

  1. Ritu says:

    I’m crying. But tears of peace

  2. Darlene says:

    Perfect! Just perfect. Thanks for sharing.

  3. beetleypete says:

    That was the perfect ending to a wonderful life lived so well. RIP, lovely Milly.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  4. beth says:

    this sounds absolutely perfect for a milly sendoff

  5. These last two posts about Milly have had me reaching for the tissues and so weepy! I’m so very glad I got to meet Milly through you and her quilts, Jennie. 🥰

    btw- have you thought of making this series into a book? I would buy it!!

  6. quiall says:

    There is no greater gift that we can give someone is a sense of peace.

  7. Don Ostertag says:

    A home made quilt will never be just ‘a quilt’ in my eyes ever again. Thanks to Milly, I will look at it as a work of art and a labor of love.

  8. What a lovely celebration of Milly! She was truly a remarkable woman as are you Jennie. I think you both were destined to come into each other’s lives.☺️

  9. Carla says:

    So Bittersweet. That minister was right on! Celebrate life and Milly had a great one. I loved that lightbulb moment, She is at Peace, you were meant to meet and spend that time together creating memories with the children. Loved this journey with you, Milly and your students.

  10. petespringerauthor says:

    How nice to be remembered by so many people with fond memories. I really appreciate you sharing this whole beautiful story, Jennie. Thanks to Milly for sharing her talents with the world. It’s a wonder to think how many of Milly’s quilts are hanging somewhere or being used.

  11. This story never gets old…

  12. So glad you’ve told us about Milly.

  13. That is delightful. I would like my memorial to be inspirational and happy, not dour. I don’t understand the tears, Jennie. The dead are going to a better place (if you believe that, which I do) so why cry? For ourselves? I really don’t get it which makes me an odd duck at funerals!

  14. Milly’s celebration of life service is the perfect “it happened like this” story.

  15. So touching, Jennie. What a kind and generous soul. A loss, but what a beautiful legacy she leaves behind.

  16. Gosh! Sorry, i am shocked, Jennie! I thought its only a cold, she had caught. I am so sorry for you all, loosing your famous artist. May she rest in peace. xx Michael

  17. Beautiful memories stitched in the quilt. A memorial service or funeral can have laughter too. We are human. If that is what people recall about Jennie, why not? A quilt is a wonderful memorial and tribute to Jennie. I am touched and honored to have read this post about her. May she continue to delight those who enter that church and inspire them to leave such a legacy. Thank you for the post. 🙂

  18. mitchteemley says:

    “I had witnessed her soul.” OK, that got me. Thank you for sharing this, Jennie.

  19. Millie had a beautiful life, Jennie.

  20. dgkaye says:

    Goosebumps and tears. ❤

  21. Hey I really liked what you’ve written here. BTW my name is jenny too but I’m from India and I’m new in blogging.

  22. Nice 👍👍👌👌

  23. Notes says:

    ‘…I had witnessed her soul…’
    Words to treasure.

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