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Cornershot: An unexpected family album

Cornershot: An unexpected family album

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My mother passed away in late September, and, as often happens, she left behind a houseful of belongings no one really wants. Her children are of an age at which we’re thinking about getting rid of stuff, and her grandchildren have already established households of their own and have what they need.

I did ask for some old family albums, but I was disappointed when they arrived. She had gone through them some years earlier, and had culled out photos I wanted, and kept ones from after I had already moved away.

But there was something else in the box they came in that I hadn’t asked for — a handmade quilt. My guess is it’s the work of either my great-grandmother or my Great-Aunt Myrtle, both of whom turned out many beautiful quilts in their lifetimes. I settled on Aunt Myrtle, because some of the patches were made of fabrics and in patterns that were typical of the middle of the last century, and my great-grandmother, who died in 1971, had quit making quilts years before.

When I had a close look at it, I realized that while the backing and the borders of the quilt were in pristine condition, some of the squares used for the top were worn. Aunt Myrtle grew up on a farm during the Great Depression, when nothing went to waste, and I realized that many of the squares probably had come from her rag bag. They are a motley assortment. Some seem to be part of a man’s rough plaid work shirt. Others are a smooth corded pink—from a church dress, perhaps? A few are old and dark and look as though they might have been used for curtains or light upholstery. And in each corner is one square cut from a bright red bandanna.

I pictured Aunt Myrtle laying out the pieces, smoothing them with her hands and remembering who had worn or used each piece and when. And I think I got my family album after all.

— Betsy Biesenbach, a reader

in Roanoke

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