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Grandma’s Stars Keep Shining

By Nancy Abiade, LMSW

While serving as a Hospice Social Worker, I often asked patients if they had any unfinished business (emotional or physical). In July of 2019, a patient named Judith Knowles told me that she had a quilt top made by her grandmother, Ethel Mae Bloomfield Burwell in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s.

Quilt and Picture - Grandma's Stars Keep Shining

The photo is of Ethel (born in 1894) and her daughter, Norma Knowles 1926, Judith Knowles 1945 and Ellen Todl 1946.

Made from scraps, Judy recalled that the black polka dotted material was used to make pajamas for her and her sister and the gingham material was used to make an apron.

Judy never married and Ellen’s daughter, Christy became her caregiver. Judy stated that her final wish was to have her grandmother’s quilt bound and quilted. I explained that my mother, Ruth Snyder from Ohio was part of a quilting group at her church, Smithville Mennonite Church. Despite moving to assisted living, my 88 year old mother continued to participate in the monthly quilting. Their elaborate quilts are donated to the Ohio Mennonite Relief Sale, an annual auction that raises thousands of dollars for world hunger.

Judy was delighted and asked that the quilt be bound and quilted and then donated to the relief sale. Christy was in agreement with the gift.

I took the quilt top to my mother who took it to the church and they finished it just before COVID started. The pandemic caused the sale to be done online, ending on October 3, 2020. Judy’s quilt Under The Stars sold for $800.

Judy died just days after donating the quilt. My own mother died in September, 2020. I smile when thinking of these two women meeting now over this precious starry gift.

Article published in Senior Perspectives January-February 2020 Issue (distributed and published by Senior Resources)



About the author

Abiade Nancy UPDATED 10.1.19 - Grandma's Stars Keep Shining

Nancy Abiade LMSW has been a social worker for Harbor Hospice serving the Poppen Residence, assisted living, and home patients and families for over 7 years.  She previously worked as a skilled nursing facility, hospital, and geriatric day care social worker. 

Harbor Hospice and Harbor Palliative Care is committed to alleviating patients’ symptoms and providing choices to help the patient achieve optimum well-being. For almost four decades, Harbor Hospice has provided compassionate end of life care for terminally ill patients and their families, addressing medical, emotional and spiritual needs regardless of ability to pay. Serving residents of lakeshore West Michigan, their team of professionals and volunteers connect patients and families with resources to align their goals of comfort and improved quality of life.

Learn more at or by calling 231.728.3442.

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