Beth “Ma” Miller was always an amazing seamstress. She sewed 10 wedding dresses (including her own), clothes for her kids, and even a suit for her husband, Neil! If Grandma saw something in a magazine she liked, she would make up a pattern herself, sew up the outfit and make it look just like the magazine. She taught her daughters to sew, and even held classes in her home to teach her granddaughters and others the art of sewing.
In Ma Miller’s later years, she was sadly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. She started to forget to sew holes closed, leave pins in the items she sewed and even forgot how to thread her machine sometimes. However she really wanted to sew and help out Minky Mamas, since her daughter (Sue) and granddaughter (me - Alisa) were the owners. She especially loved Minky Mamas because without her teaching Sue how to sew, Minky Mamas wouldn’t exist.
So Grandma really wanted to sew for us, but because of her Alzheimer’s her quality wasn’t up to the standard we required. Mom and I decided to give her some scraps we had so she could make some smaller sized blankets. She wanted to see them sell, so we had a “Ma Miller show”. While she was on her way to the Minky Barn, we told all of our customers on the show that we were going to have a pretend auction for one of her blankets. We didn’t want to make people pay for a product that might have holes, isn’t sewn straight, etc. We told them people would comment their bids when Ma Miller came on, and then whoever had the highest bid after 2 minutes we’d send them the blanket for free.
However, our customers’ amazing hearts blew us away! They all said “No, let us actually buy it! We want her to show how much we love what she’s doing and to see her stuff actually sell!” So Mom and I decided that what the highest bidder paid we would donate to the Alzheimer’s Association. Grandma came and her first small blanket (picture below) sold for over $200! She was elated!
After that, the Ma Miller blankets were born! Before, it was hard for her to get out of bed for the day; but she was so excited to be sewing the Ma Miller blankets that she’d get up at 2 or 3 in the morning just so she could get started sewing for the day. It made an enormous difference in her life and Pa Miller’s life as her caretaker to give her purpose again and be so excited about something! She sewed them until she passed away February 3, 2020.
Ever since then, we have carried on the tradition of the Ma Miller blankets. We keep them sewn in the family, so my cousin sews them up for us each week now. We have them sewn just like she did them: no squaring up the edges, no precise measurements, they don’t lay flat (but no holes). They are perfectly imperfectly, exactly the way she made them. We auction off a Ma Miller blanket at the end of every Facebook Live show in her honor, and part of the proceeds are donated to the Alzheimer’s Association to fund Alzheimer’s research and care of patients that currently have Alzheimer’s Disease. People say they get more comfort out of the Ma Miller blankets than any other minky blankets they have, and I know it’s because of the woman they honor. I know that Grandma loves spreading joy and love through her special blankets, and we are so blessed to have amazing customers and family that help her name live on!