This was not just a coincidence. How could something like this be a coincidence? It definitely wasn’t coincidence.
A few months ago I was looking for a quilt for Boo’s room. I looked everywhere: thrift stores, eBay, Etsy. Nothing caught my eye. Maybe I’m too picky. I don’t like solid patterns, or big patchwork pieces. I had a picture in my head of what I was looking for and the odds were that I would never find it. Then one day, browsing eBay, I found one:
Seriously it was the first one I’d found that I immediately said: Wow. I put it in my watch list but then forgot about it until the next day and missed the auction. And then I couldn’t stop thinking about. I usually don’t get worked up over things like missed auctions because I probably didn’t need whatever it was in the first place. But this quilt was different. I loved how intricate it was, and I loved the tiny details of all the feedsack and calicos, I loved that it was hand tied and I thought it would look fantastic in photo shoots. So I pursued it. I contacted the seller and asked if I could still buy it if it hadn’t sold. After a little bit of emailing back and forth we agreed on a price and a week later the quilt was mine:
To top off my excitement of getting such a wonderful quilt, in the box, accompanying it, was a nice handwritten note in the box listed a little bit of history:
“This is a truly unique quilt, handcrafted by the late Beth Schneider of Gingercake, NC. It’s just a small bit of this estate. Beth and her husband Claude collected antiques for 60 years. Claude and I are sorting, storing and selling a little at a time.”
I kept the note because I thought it was interesting to know a little of the history of the quilt. I would research more about it later. I could tell it was old, and that I’d probably stumbled upon something pretty valuable. I don’t know much about quilts in general, I didn’t even know what pattern it was, but I have a good eye for handcrafted work. It was a conversation piece when friends stopped by. And it hung over the back of a chair in our living room for a few months so we could admire it. I’d never noticed the dark and light stripes until it was viewed from overhead:
Last month, for Mother’s Day, we decided at the last minute to drive up to Linville to visit my mother for the weekend. The next day we drove around and then went to the Hampton Grist Mill for BBQ. As we drove towards the old grist mill store it was still pretty early to eat lunch, and so my mother directed us around Linville proper for a little sightseeing. As we turned onto the first street we saw a sign for a yard sale…and I’m pretty sure the whole car rolled their eyes. I can never pass up a yard sale.
It was an old Linville house and we walked around a while looking over the items. There were a lot of neat little things to look at. I picked out a poetry book, an old drafting tool set and a few other things. Boo picked out a few small items too. Brett talked to the woman whose sale it was and I could hear them talking about barn wood and places it could be found in western NC.
As we started to head back to the car the woman handed me her card. I looked at it and started to put it away but then I took a second look and something clicked in my head. I’d seen this card before.
Me: Wait a second…I know your name.
And then instantly everything fit together.
Me: I think I bought a quilt from you a while back? Online? It was really old. And you wrote me a letter to accompany the quilt with the history of it.
She looked like she’d seen a ghost. And then suddenly she was in tears. I wasn’t quite sure what had just happened. It took a few minutes before she could talk again. And then she explained:
“You have no idea the story behind that quilt. The man whose wife made it died just a month ago. And the quilt wasn’t supposed to be sold. It was a family heirloom, and the family has been frantically looking for it, and I wasn’t able to find your information.”
My heart sank a little at first because I knew that meant that they would want it back. And then I began to think about the odds of what had just transpired:
the odds of me keeping the handwritten note and business card that accompanied the quilt.
the odds of me purchasing something off of eBay and running into the seller at yard sale.
the odds of going to the yard sale.
the odds of ever meeting someone from a transaction on eBay!
the odds of the seller looking for me and me showing up at her front door by chance.
the odds of recognizing the business card and making the connection.
the odds of a family looking for a lost quilt and having it show back up again.
This was not just a coincidence. How could something like this be a coincidence? It definitely wasn’t coincidence.
I gave the woman my contact information and told her to just pass it along to the family and that I would work something out with them.
I didn’t hear from the family for a while, but last week I had a voicemail from the granddaughter. When I called her back she told me the story of how the quilt had gone missing and I think she was probably surprised at how quickly my answer was: well, if it’s your family’s quilt then you should have it back.
It was a quick answer because of course I’d had a few weeks to think about it, but really I had known from the first moment I learned it was lost that I would have to return it. I’d prayed about it the same night and woke up knowing it wasn’t really my quilt anymore. As much as I loved that quilt, as much as I loved its detail, as much as I loved that it had come from a place called Gingercake, and as much as I thought it was the greatest treasure find I’d ever come across…I knew it wasn’t meant to stay with me. It wasn’t meant to be my quilt.
At first Boo was a little upset about the idea of returning it. And really the same thoughts that went through her head had gone through mine too: I found it and bought it. I’ll never find another one like it. Finders keepers, right? But Boo and I talked about what it would be like for something we cared very much about to go missing. How it was just a thing to us. And how much the family would be comforted to get it back.
When we’d returned from Linville Boo was in the living room when I walked in to pick up the quilt. And when I was carefully folding it up, to set it aside in anticipation of the family eventually contacting us, she said:
I think the quilt should go back to its real family.
And today it did.
Whoa. What a crazy story!
You absolutely did the right thing. I quilt and I can tell you hours upon hours go into quilts, not counting years and years of collecting fabric, using loved clothing, actually feeling the love in the quilt. I’m so glad you did the right thing. The quilt was amazing and I hope one day to be able to make one similar to that one. It’s a log cabin (may favorite pattern) and a scrappy one at that. It’s irreplaceable. Thank you for returning the love home.
Ashley-the way God works through you is amazing. I am so thankful for the way you take the time to listen and pass it along. I feel very lucky to have found you years ago (like I actually know you or something).
Ditto to what Angela said. God bless you and yours, Ashley.
Susan Mason says
Do you ever read the articles, “God’s Mysterious Ways,” in Guidepost Magazine? This is one of those stories! Thanks for sharing. As a person who treasures anything from the past that belonged to a family member, I thank you for returning the quilt.
This made me cry!!!! Sometimes, you just don’t know what you hold in your hands!! I have clothes my grandmother made for me that I will never part with because she is still here…with me…in those clothes. It is the same with recipes or pincushions or a favorite cooking pot. We live on in the history of things that mean something to our hearts!
Nancy LeB says
doing the right thing isn’t always easy but it always right – well done – if I ever find a similair quilt it will be yours 🙂
Such a cool story. I love quilts and have the hardest time finding the perfect one. My favorite is one I found at Goodwill. A Cathedral pattern that was made for someone else, but was discarded and found a home with us. Oh the stories these quilts could tell!
Jolie N. says
What an amazing story! If you think about it you all are now a part of the quilt’s history and story. The family will continue to share the story of the quilt and it will have the added part of the wonderful family who bought it and got it back to the family who were searching for it. YOU and Boo are now a part of the beautiful quilt from Gingercake.
Misty Willis says
So sweet of you to return it. It is a log cabin quilt. I have one that was made as a wedding gift for my husband and I by his great grandmother and his grandmother. When we were first married, we were starting out with almost nothing and it was our only blanket. We used it and used it. Now it’s in a fragile state and as a quilter/seamstress/crafter myself, I know how much work and love went into it. I have repaired several of the “Nanny Quilts” the family has loved over the years. Nanny (Mildred Jones Woods) made a quilt for every member of the family!
That Is a wonderful story! I knew you were a good soul to return something so special to you and the owners, I am sure God will return the favor twofold.
A soul is resting easier today. 🙂 Why do I feel that the story of your quilt has not yet reached its ending?
As a quilter myself you are to be applauded!! So much time and effort go into quilts and the family find so much comfort in them after the quilter passes.. a little piece of them still with them.
Jan Schneider says
This story is poetic. Almost like the movie “Serendipity” one of my favorites. You did exactly what should have been done. You would not have felt the same about it knowing the other family cherished it.
You are living an amazing life, Ashley, and I think that’s why the quilt found you!
How do you always make me cry like this? My grandmother made quilts. I know how precious they are to me. You’re so right. For all those events to happen could never be coincidence. I know God honors our obedience. I pray the Lord will lead you to a new old quilt that will tickle your fancy just as much as this one did.
So you and Boo are going to try to recreate it this summer, right?! If anyone can do it, it’s you!! I love this story, and as someone who quilts, I think it’s completely possible to (re)create your own family heirloom!!
Ashley Hackshaw says
Ha. I wish! I still have a denim quilt we started stashed somewhere in pieces 🙂
Kathy Howard says
If quilters sent you fabrics that were similar, it really wouldn’t be that hard to do. Especially if the fabric strips were cut to width for you. Collecting the right fabrics as a beginning quilter would be time consuming. I have made some quilts from regular cotton fabric, but the one I planned to make with denim is still in a bag somewhere.
I believe the striped effect is called Sunshine and Shadows.
Carol Aldrich says
What a happy ending, the quilt was beautiful. The quilt looks like the log cabin pattern.
Amazing story, written so beautifully.. What a wonderful life you lead..
Michele T says
Wow! I’ve got goosebumps after reading your incredible story!!! What are the chances???!!! It all was meant to be… Things happen in such a curious way!! I will be thinking about this for many days to come and sharing it with my friends!!!
Ruth Wisner says
Ashley, to me this is one of your best posts. I don’t know if it’s because you wrote about quilts, about something being lost and then found or because it’s about doing the right thing in your heart. Maybe it’s all of those. Plus you set a wonderful example of selflessness for Boo. Lovely. Thanks.
K G Palmer says
So generous in every way, you share so much of you and your families journey, what a wonderful example you are living for your daughter. I know it will come back to you in some special way. Blessings – K
As someone who is a hobby quilter, I can say with 100% certainty that you did the only thing you could do. A piece of the crafter’s soul goes into every object that is made. So what the family wanted to recapture and treasure was the lost piece of their loved one. I know from experience that when you work on something like a quilt, you are thinking about the recipient or about your love for the fabrics you have chosen or the joy of seeing it grow. And even if you are only making it for yourself, I can guarantee you that every woman crafter is thinking of her family, either consciously or subconsciously as she works. Those thoughts and those feelings of love and worry and anxiety and hope and past sorrow and future joy leak into the fabric and become part of the end product. You became part of the story when you held it for safe keeping and when you knew the time to let it go home. xo
He really does guide and direct our path. Thanks for listening.
Heidi Nelson says
I LOVE stories like this! It definitely wasn’t just a big coincidence. I’m sure there is even more that will come out of this story as time progresses. So so cool!!
God bless you for returning such sweet memories to that family. What a blessing it was and how great it was of your whole family to listen to the still small voice prodding you towards that not so chance face to face meeting. 🙂
So many goosebumps. And tears. And pride for you and your little lady.
Definitely not a coincidence, it is amazing how the universe works.. A very poignant lesson in life for your daughter. An amazing story x
what an incredible story! just another reminder to be open to the universe….. thanks so much for sharing!
Amy Tingle says
Woah! Wow. Woah! Wow!
Kathy Howard says
You have a memorable story and photos of this quilt. The person who made the quilt did some careful planning to create the sunshine and shadow pattern with those prints; that is not so easy to do. Maybe someone who reads this story will have another special quilt for you. I have only made one log cabin quilt.
Wow Ashley. Just wow. What an amazing story.
What a wonderful story – thank you so much for sharing it. I love a quilt story and I have heard one like this.
perry94022 at hotmail dot com
What a sweet story. And to think that some people don’t believe God cares about the little things in our lives. Thank you for sharing this.
Catherine S. says
a beautifully written story and a beautiful ending. You did the right thing. I am amazed that people will give up (you) what they have come to treasure because they know it *belongs* to someone else. you are an angel on earth.
This made me cry too. Definitely not a coincidence- you’re right about that. 🙂
Amy H. says
There was nothing else to do but return the quilt. My great-grandma Jessie was a quilter, and her quilts are treasures still. Your story is captivating. Read The Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco sometime. Your story could be a great companion read! Be
Sue Rostron says
This would make a wonderful book, Ashley for kids or adults.
Mary Anne says
Yes, clearly God was “in” this. What if someone else had bought the quilt? It would have been lost to that family forever! You were meant to buy it, so that you could be in the right place at the right time to return it…..I pray your generosity will come back to you ten fold!
Totally not a coincidence. The story gave me goose bumps.
such a God wink and you sure stepped up to the plate.
I think I read something about doing new things once a week this summer. Getting out of our comfort zones and get going with our lives. I recommend that you and Boo make your own quilt and attach your family memories. I’m a self taught quilter and one of the reasons I began quilting was because I knew I would be making heirlooms. This is a log pattern quilt pattern and a little more history about the block. The center is usually going to be red or yellow to symbolize heart or home. You tube has some great tutorials. I’m so glad you and Boo got to love the quilt for a hot minute and then returned it. I believe it was a God moment.
Alexandra Hite says
Oh my goodness, I’m in tears. I’m a quilter and I totally understand the attachment to something handmade, especially if it’s something that has been in the family or even just a spectacular find online. I’m so very glad you were able to share this awesome story of God working in our lives so unexpectedly. It’s such a joy to know you were able to embrace what His plan was, learn from it and also bring joy to others through your generosity and understanding. 🙂 Way to go….man….just such an awesome story. You should have a quilt made that is similar to it, then it can be your family heirloom and mean just as much to you. 🙂
Terri at Time To Be Inspired says
Good job! I think you did the right thing.
Maggie from A Quilt In Time says
I am a quilt maker from the UK and I would like to offer to make you a replacement scrappy log cabin quilt, no charge. If this interests you at all please get in touch. Best wishes
Jenny V. says
What a kind and wonderful gesture! Gave me goosebumps!
Sue Rostron says
Thanks Maggie for wanting to share in such a generous way by making this offer. Maybe us quilters could send you some fabric from around the world so Ashley’s family feel our love!
Kathy Howard says
I am sure there are lots of quilters out there that would love to be part of this project. I was thinking that if Ashley accepted Maggie’s offer, that maybe she and Boo would like to be included in the process of collecting some of the fabric for it (quilters sending pieces to them to be bundled and set to Maggie). Though, Maggie may already have what she needs for this project.
Ashley @ Lil Blue Boo says
That is so sweet and generous Maggie! But we feel so grateful for what we already have, and just having the story,…how about making a “Gingercake” quilt and passing it on to someone else for me! Pass the story along! xoxo
Pam Wilson says
Okay, Maggie made me cry for the fourth time since reading your blog,,,(for the first time ever.) A piece of advice. Accept her offer. She had it on her heart to offer it. There seem to be lots of people here who would love to help you.LOVE this story. The older I get, the easier it is for me to see God’s hand in many things,(as I know you do too.) I think this is one of them.
Jennifer trujillo says
OMG! You brought tears to my eyes. I’m true believer of destiny…not odds. I’m glad you returned the quilt to that family. Its was the right thing to do…bug hug…Jen
A very wise woman always told me “It is always easier to do the wrong thing than it is to do the right thing” What a true statement that is!!! But we all know that we should do the right thing and you are a great example of doing the right thing. I know that you can lay your head down at night and rest easy knowing that God is proud of you for making the right choice when put in that situation. What an awesome example to your precious little girl. She is following in your footsteps too. :o) I just read on here that someone has offered to make you a replacement quilt and that is such a sweet offer and blessing. Like the Bible says….The Good Lord Gives and The Good Lord Takes Away!! You gave the quilt back to the family and now someone else is offering one to you. What an amazing story.
@ Maggie–That is the nicest thing EVER!
I love this story. This is how God works! Nothing is ever an accident. Thank you for sharing this!
Wow! God works in mysterious ways.
What a story! Such a beautiful opportunity to teach your sweet daughter about doing the right thing even when it’s tough. Thanks for sharing this touching post. My family has generations of quilters and many of ours have been ‘lost’ in a similar way. How lovely that this one is making its way home! Hope your kindness comes back in many ways!
Cindy Click says
I love this quilt story- indeed, you did the right thing and this family will cherish this heirloom forever. My mother was engaged to another man before my father. He was killed as he stepped off the plane in Germany. My mother made a scrapbook filled with his “wings” , love letters, his last post card, notification of his death and hand written notes from his parents to my mom. She met my dad,”Navy man” a year later. At the age of 80, my mom was diagnosed with Altziemers. The scrapbook made the cut to the nursing home. The long good bye took 6 years and I poured thru the scrapbook to pass the time. This didn’t belong to us anymore-it needed to go to his family. He still had a living brother and sister and I mailed it to them as a Christmas surprise. I rec’d beautiful, heartfelt letters from the family. My parents were married for 67 years and I envision my mom- arm in arm with Fred on one side, my dad on the other. God bless you and your family
Stephanie T says
Ashley–you have such a good heart. It would be so neat if you and Boo could recreate that quilt someday. What a great project that would be.
I know you don’t like for people brag about about you, especially TO you. But, man this story just shows so much of your heart. Boo has the same heart. You inspire me so. Thank you so much for sharing this awesome story. It was totally worth sharing!! The family that got their beloved family treasure back have seen the love of Christ though you. Blessing to you Ashley!
Wow… what else can I say that hasn’t already been said? I’d love to make Boo a quilt of her own. (I never sell my quilts, I only give them away to people who I know will love and use them.)
I have a similar story, only I found a quilt my 90 year old aunt had made in her 70s. It went missing when she was moved into skilled care. I found it at a local thrift store (not knowing it was hers). After investigating and determination, I returned it to her.
I love your story AND the quilt! I would call it “scrap heaven” —and of course I want to make one right away….as soon as I finish the 2 scrap quilts that are August b-day gifts for elderly women friends. I only make scrap style quilts now–2 or 3 or even 12 fabrics in a quilt simply aren’t enough.
I am almost 63 yrs old now and have spent most of my life trying to learn how to live with the scraps of my own life which include the deaths of a 17yr old son and a 48 yr old sister. Life is exciting when I work with what I have instead of trying to find something new to “fix” it. That quilt says all that to me. I hope you make one, too and celebrate the crazy things that come to us in life.
It’s all been said, goosebumps…God bless.
Kaye McArthur says
I truly believe objects have a “home”! I’m so glad you returned the quilt to its “rightful owner.” You will be rewarded by finding something that is meant to live at your house!
HI Ashley, I’m sure someone already said this- but the block is called Log Cabin on the quilt. They are actually pretty easy to make, much less complicated that some of your apparel items you used to sell. Depending upon how you sew the blocks together you can have the light and dark areas as stripes or diamonds or other patterns. It’s a nice one to use to teach a child to sew as all the cuts are straight and seams are straight. Boo could totally make a log cabin block with some practice. My 7 year old can. I made one of these in high school. It took me 6 months to make all the blocks (I sewed during an hour classtime I had a free period- I was wild in high school LOL) and then it sat in a closet un-quilted until one internship in College when my grandma came to visit me…. Quilts are such fun reminders of the past. Each of my daughters (age 5,7) have quilts on their bed from me. And my son is still waiting on his…. you know how it is as a busy mom. And he’s the oldest so I have no excuse. ANyway.. My birthday was just this last week, age 35. Happy Birthday mrs. 38!
ps- I’m not really a quilter, just someone who sews who has happened to make a few quilts. There IS a difference. Finding old quilts is THE BEST. You should talk to Meg Duerkson (Whatever Blog- google her), she finds the cutest quilts at a thrift store near her home and posts her finds on her blog. Her craft house is decked out in old quilts and the photos are eye candy.