Addie Peterson hadn’t been to Gram’s house since she was ten years old. She used to spend most of each summer there, while Mom worked. But, when she was ten, Mom remarried and the new family moved too far away for summer visits.
Addie sat in the beige rental car parked in front of the small gray-white clapboard house. It looks run-down, she thought. The house needed paint, and the once-lush landscape looked as if it had been cooked in the summer heat.
She was more than surprised when she received the letter from the attorney. ‘In Re: The Estate of Adelaid Goutcher. You are the sole beneficiary of Adelaid Goutcher. Please contact me at your earliest convenience.’ It wasn’t convenient. Addie lived three time-zones away from Gram and Gram’s attorney, but it was her duty.
Mom had been furious with Gram that last summer. Gram did not approve of her daughters ‘new beau’ as Gram put it. Mom and Gram didn’t know Addie had heard them arguing. They had sent her outside to the chicken coup so they could talk, but Mom’s raised voice and Gram’s murmuring reply made it clear even to ten-year old Addie, this was no usual conversation.
After that encounter, the marriage and the move, Mom told Addie she couldn’t visit Gram because the trip was too expensive. Addie didn’t believe it for a moment.
She had arranged to have a company conduct an estate sale at the house in a few days. The had already gone through and set up the rooms for the sale. “Everything must go,” Addie told them. “I want it over quickly. There’s nothing in the house I want..”
When Alice, the estate sale manager, called last week, she told Addie they had found a sealed cardboard box with a note taped to the box. It read ‘Please give this box to Addie Peterson.’
“I know you said you wanted to sell everything, but this is obviously personal and we don’t feel comfortable opening it.”
“All right. I’ll be in town by Wednesday. Put the box on the dining room table and I’ll pick it up Thursday.”
She put her head down on the steering wheel for a moment, the pickup up her purse, slung the strap over her shoulder as she existed the car, then walked briskly to the front door.
The once brightly painted red door looked dry and dusty. She put the key in the lock and entered. Almost without thought, she moved down the hall, then turned right into the dining room. There on the old oak table was a cardboard box with the printed note Alice had described. She looked at it briefly, then pulled off the tape and opened the box.
Inside was a yellowed envelope. Her name, written in Gram’s elegant handwriting, was on the outside. She carefully opened the envelope and took out the note.
I know your Mom and her new husband love you very much and will do all they can to give you a happy home. I do miss you. I wanted you to have this. When we worked on it during your summer visits, it brought me such joy. I hope the memory of those times together brings you joy as well.
Addie pulled the folded quilt from the box. It wasn’t a large quilt, doll-sized really, but each square was lovingly sewn by hand, some with the neat, even stitches of Gram and some with Addie’s ten-year old fingers.
She looked at each square, gently outlining each one with her finger. The materials had come from a box of old clothing she found in Gram’s attic. Cotton prints and solids and even a few squares of dark-green velvet. Each square was embroidered, some with a small pictures, or a date or a name.
“Thank you, Gram,” she whispered. She gently folded the quilt and placed it and Gram’s note back in the box, then picked up the box and left the house.