Betsy Ross

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My father used to call me Betsy Ross. Before anyone was up, I would go downstairs and pull my quilt out from under the couch. I’d thread my needle with string, and by that time, quite regularly, my father would come to me on the couch and swiftly kiss my forehead, smelling like shaving cream and pomade. He’d look down at me and say, “Good morning, Betsy Ross.”

“I’m not Betsy Ross!” I’d snap back at him, and then return to my work sewing another patch.

My quilt was one with a disregard for matching and uniformity. Its creation began in response to a conversation my family had at dinner one night. My mother, still in scrubs from her shift at the nursing home, told us that an old patient she particularly liked was going to die soon. I was an overly empathetic child, the kind that took just a bit too long to warm up to the world. I cried at the dinner table. And then decided that I would make him a quilt.

I cut the squares of fabric, and one by one, I sewed each square to the next by hand. My mother offered to help, but I was so insistent on doing it on my own that the only time she touched it was to teach me the double back stitch. Possibly because of this, it was not perfect, however hard I tried. Its bits of fabric were chosen...

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