Much as I hate to admit this, I guess I’ve inherited yet another trait from my parents –difficulty parting with “things”. Over the past few years, though, I’ve begun to whittle away at this extra stuff…piece by piece.
When my mom moved from her condo to an independent living apartment, she was forced to downsize her belongings. A few years earlier, she’d created a written inventory of what she owned, listing the provenance of antiques and other valuable items.
She provided us with the list and asked us to indicate which items we’d most like to have. Amazingly, between my four brothers and I, and our spouses, children and grands, there were no real arguments over who would get what. Each of the grandkids seemed to have a special affinity for specific items, often stemming from some childhood incident involving Grandma and/or Grandpa.
One of the quilts had belonged to our paternal grandmother, Sylvia Tschantz Pannabecker, who taught school at Boone School in Wayne County, Ohio. The hand-embroidered “Friendship Quilt” was made by her students in the class of 1912-1914. In 1931, it was presented to my grandmother when she and Grandpa and their family returned to the United States while on furlough from their mission post in China.
About a year ago, a board member of the Kidron (Ohio) Sonnenberg Heritage Center, asked whether I would be willing to lend the quilt to them for one of their exhibits.
Like my dad, I don’t make decisions quickly or easily, and turning over something of such sentimental value brought out a part of me that I didn’t recognize. I needed to know whether it would be protected from harsh lighting, secure, and most of all, that it would someday be returned — intact — to my family.
Because truthfully, I didn’t see it as mine to give away. My grandmother had kept it safe for all those years before turning it over to my parents. Mother had eventually hung it for display so that others could enjoy it.
Turning it over to virtual strangers wasn’t easy. I consulted with my sister-in-law, director of Kauffman Museum in North Newton, Kansas, because she has expertise with similar exhibits and dealing with donors/lenders of family heirlooms.
Suddenly, I realized I was making this way too hard on myself. If a quilt wasn’t made to be used on a bed, then there must be another reason for its existence. Like a painting or sculpture, this quilt is a piece of art — one that deserves to be enjoyed by many.
And so today, my grandmother’s quilt, is hanging on display at the Sonnenberg. If you’re in the Kidron area, stop by to enjoy this piece of Tschantz-Pannabecker history.