number 81

When Quilt number 81 came into the office, I fell in love. The entire thing is hand-stitched, made by a group of ladies in the hobby room at their senior home. The fabrics are old and wonderful...each one reminded me of the stash my grandma harrington used to quilt with.

The morning of the quilt auction, LaVonne (the ubber-generous donor who surprised me last year by purchasing the quilt of my dreams at last years auction) caught me and asked which quilt I had my eyes on. I darted the question for a long time, thanking her for last years generosity. But she is a forthright woman, and finally asked me point blank, "what is the number, Becca?" I said 81.

All morning long at the auction, women gathered around 81, unfolding it, marveling at how much work went into this quilt. They brought friends back, family members. And with each viewing I began to feel more and more unsettled. This quilt was going to go for a lot of money, and I realized that LaVonne would gladly purchase it for me. What's worse, is that I could tell there were many who really, really wanted this quilt too. And I just didn't feel right about getting it for free.

So I found LaVonne, with Rory by my side, and told her my worries, and that I had chosen a different quilt. She got stern and told me that if she wanted to buy a quilt for me, that was her decision. And I back peddled and told her that her generosity had already touched me last year, but that I felt funny if others really wanted this quilt...

Then Rory jumped in to thank her for last year, but again trying to back out of this whole Becca-has-expensive-taste predicament. And the funniest thing happened. LaVonne stood up and took my husband by the chin. Honest to goodness. Held his face right there in front of hers and said, "If I want to buy your wife a quilt, I will do so." Rory was super considerate and continued to tell her, of course you can buy the quilt, we're just saying you've already overwhelmed us with your generosity... And all the while LaVonne was still holding his chin.

In the end she said, "I will bid on that quilt, but I will decide whose lap it will end up in." And we agreed that was a good plan.

The quilt went up for auction, and LaVonne got it for $580. And because she was bidding the last couple hundred against just one person, she ended up offering that other person the quilt for his ending bid of $570 and then LaVonne gave the $580 to the camp even still. Which means the quilt made more than $1,000 for the camp.

I ran over to LaVonne after this other person received the quilt, grabbed her by the shoulders and said, "I love you! You have no idea the guilt that has been lifted off of my shoulders." And she frowned, "You need to get over that."

I didn't see who got the quilt, but I'd be lying if I told you I don't think about it often. It was really that stunning.

My favorite moment of the day was when LaVonne purchased a quilt for Sarah, one of my favorite, steadfast, always dependable counselors. Sarah is new on staff and didn't have a clue of LaVonne's history. LaVonne overheard Sarah tell me that she had an emotional reaction to a quilt (which is so funny, because I could actually relate, even though it might be that we're just dramatic girls...). I asked her which number and when she told me, I saw LaVonne behind her make a note of it.

So when that quilt came up, Sarah bid with confidence up to $75 and then dropped out. I felt like I was watching some great Olympic moment where I was privy to the backstory... The quilt went for over $300 and I could see Sarah stand up and go back to her job of serving water to out guests. When she walked by LaVonne, LaVonne called her over to show her the quilt she had just won.

Sarah commented, "oh, yes. I loved that one too. I like your taste."
LaVonne replied, "I got it for you."
Sarah, "No. That's fine. You won it fair, and it's really beautiful.
LaVonne, "No. I didn't want it. I bought it for you. It's a gift for you"
And then Sarah got it.

And she got all choked up.


annika said...

Such a good story!!!

heidiboehnen said...

Precious! Oh the joy of giving!

Nancy Holte said...

LaVonne sounds like such a wonderful, giving woman! I bet the Lord blesses her big time! And the quilt she bought you last year is magnificent! I'd love to meet her. I bet I could learn a lot from her.