A Handmade Quilt and a little Chinese “doll”


Once upon a time I had a step son. He was a cute little boy. I met him when he was six. He and his father picked me a bouquet of wildflowers to greet me when I returned to his father’s home from my home one weekend soon after I met him. He and his father stole my heart.  He would come spend time supposedly with his father. I was with his father for the summer when I met him. It turned out that was the first of six summers where the pattern was  always the same. He would come to his father’s house, but his father would leave on Monday to travel for his job so the two of us were together for four days until his father returned. During the summer he came for several weeks at a time. How long, I don’t remember. It was always over the 4th of July so it was always blistering hot compared to his home in the UP of Michigan.

I’m sure that it did not make him very happy being left alone all week with a stranger, but we got used to each other. I tried to entertain him as much as I could. I spent a lot more time with him than his father ever did.

By the second summer his father and I were married and living in Connecticut. He made friends with some of the grandchildren who visited their grandparents on the street and took swimming lessons.

The third summer he visited us in Illinois. He had a new baby brother by then and didn’t get quite as much attention. The routine was still the same. He came to visit his father but didn’t get much time with him.

The next three summers he came to visit his father here in Fort Worth. He made friends with some of the neighborhood children and took archery lessons and tennis lessons to fill his time. He spent the week with me and his much younger brother waiting for his father to come home.

By the time he was twelve he decided he didn’t want to come down and play that game anymore. I didn’t blame him. I tried to make his time here as fun as I could,  but he obviously wanted more. He wanted to spend time with his father. When that was never going to happen, he wanted to stay home during the summer and hang out with his friends. I didn’t blame him.

That’s the last time I saw him the summer he was twelve.  His father and I divorced four years later and I lost contact with him altogether. He was a part of my ex’s life and not mine.

I liked him. We got along as much as I guess a boy and a step-mom could with each other. I tried to help him be happy when he was with us.

Through the modern age of computers somehow Nathan (my son) and he reconnected with each other at some point. They started swapping emails and presents. Scott didn’t get married until he was close to 40. He asked Nathan to be his best man. I was happy he did that. He got married at a time when Nathan could be home from his world wanderings. I think participating in life events of family members is so important. I’m glad, even if it is in a limited way, that the two of them think of each other as brothers.

Their great-grandmother had given their father and me two quilts that she had hand-made when we married. When Scott married,  I sent him one of them. That’s the first time other than sending him some childhood pictures from his time with us that I had tried to communicate with him. I just tried to bow out of his life as gracefully as possible but I couldn’t resist sending that quilt.

He sent me a thank you note and said that he recognized it right away and was very happy that I had sent it to him. He apologized for not thanking me for the pictures. He had prepared one of those childhood story boards that some people do when they marry, and he mentioned he used several of them on the board for his wedding. That pleased me very much.

Scott and his wife wanted children but found out that would not be possible. They finally decided to adopt. They went the route of adopting a special needs little girl from China. He blogged almost every day about their trip over there and everything they had to do to in order to get their new little daughter. It was a complicated process but fascinating to read. It took many days and miles of red tape.

They finally arrived back to their home in Ohio with their new little baby girl. She’s over a year old (they had a birthday party for her at their home to take pictures before they even went to China), but she is developmentally delayed and is very petite for her age. She’s getting stronger every day. She had very little opportunity in her Chinese orphanage to do much else than lay bundled in thick restricting fabric against the cold  in her crib. That was before she had a foster family to help care for her. In her pictures she looks like a porcelain doll. She is absolutely gorgeous.

I hope that the quilt survives until she reaches her adulthood (it’s already 35 years old) and that Scott tells her it was hand-made by her great great grandmother whose parents came from Germany. It traveled from Arkansas from grandma to  Illinois to Connecticut to Illinois to Texas and then to Ohio. Who knows where the traveling quilt will go in its life time. It’s home will be with a girl born in China.

I hope he tells her that it was sent to his father in hopes he would with some fondness remember the time he spent with his first of two step-mothers even if it was for only six summers when he was a little boy.

I hope when she has it as her own, she will feel the love that her great great grandmother sewed into every stitch for her grandson and his wife and the love she is receiving from her new parents who are giving her, out of love, a life she never could have imagined in China.  I hope she loves it and uses it and cares for it so someday it will find a new home with someone she loves enough to pass it on.

As far as the second quilt goes, well, that is staying with me. My son will get it one of two ways. He’ll either marry, in which case he will receive it as part of his wedding presents, or, it will be here when he is selling off everything from an estate sale. If he doesn’t want it, I’m hoping Scott will rescue it so his new little daughter will have twice the love. Namaste. Attic Annie

PS My son went to China to work, met a lovely young Chinese woman and last June had a child of his own. I gave the second quilt to him on his wedding day. Also, with love and patience, Scott’s little girl no longer has any physical problems due to the care she was given.

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