Forrest and Esther: A Love Story

This week I sewed a pillow for my mother’s birthday, and it helped me remember a great old family story about my grandparents.

Forrest Glass was a farmer. He raised chickens, cows and plowed the fields to grow crops. He played the ukelele.

As a young man he met a doe-eyed young woman named Esther Eby and fell in love. He became a Mennonite to marry her, and when my mother said that Glass wasn’t a Mennonite name (not like Miller and Oberholtzer and Stoltzfus), he said, “It is because we’ve made it one.”

Esther was a writer and a farm wife. She published a series of books for children and young adults and meditative writing for women. In between she wrote articles and short stories that were published in various periodicals for different age groups. All the while she gathered eggs, worked in the vegetable pouch, raised two children and made most of the clothes she and her family wore.

They lived on the gentle limestone-rich fields of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where it wasn’t uncommon to be a farmer. But it was uncommon to be a woman writer.

Forrest, a gentle giant of a man, didn’t find his wife’s talents threatening in any way. He even referred to himself as Mr. Esther Eby Glass in a lighthearted manner.

But one story really shows me the type of man my grandfather was. And this is the story.

When plowing his fields each spring he always left a wide swath between two fields where Indian Paintbrush flowers grew. He knew Esther loved these wild blooming flowers with their moppy tops of orange and red. So he sacrificed another few rows of corn or soybeans to let the Indian Paintbrushes grow up between the fields so she could walk there and pick them. I don’t know if she could detect their cheerful blooms from her kitchen window or the window by her writing table. I like to think she could.

19×19″ pillow with raw edge applique design, using new and vintage fabrics and sewn onto a base of family linen that has been in cedar chests for the last 50 years or more.
The pillow is based on one that my aunt made for family members in the late 1970s. My mom kept the worn out cover after it tore and the stuffing fell out and I used it as the inspiration for this new design (the original pillow didn’t have a barn swallow or Indian Paintbrush flowers, and it was a much smaller pillow).

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Marilyn Nolt
    Mar 12, 2011 @ 12:10:02

    I have sweet memories of your grandmother. She was my SS teacher when I was a teenager. The last time I saw your mother, she reminded me so much of your grandmother. I didn’t know your grandfather as well but I do remember he died a few blocks from us in NYC while he and your grandmother were visiting your uncle and wife.


    • 129twigandvine
      Mar 12, 2011 @ 12:12:55

      Thanks, Marilyn. I didn’t know that you knew them, and since I was a baby when Forrest died and four years old when Esther died I feel I know them mostly through stories. It’s nice to hear that Mom reminds you of her. That helps me create a more vibrant picture.


  2. vtbee
    Mar 12, 2011 @ 13:00:42

    sue, what a beautiful story you’ve shared! a gift to all of us – thank you.


  3. David Petrie
    Mar 14, 2011 @ 09:37:59

    I missed this one last week. It’s a children’s story all on its own. You should do something bigger with it.


  4. 129twigandvine
    Mar 14, 2011 @ 10:35:24

    David, I hadn’t thought of that but now ideas are churning. Thanks for the push!


  5. Britta
    Mar 15, 2011 @ 14:21:07

    Oh Sue, the pillow for you mom is sooo beautiful, what a great work!!!


  6. Jean
    Apr 08, 2011 @ 10:43:01

    Really nice!


  7. Trackback: Mushrooms, and a Seventies Christmas «


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