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Pass It On: Hugs from Nana

A grandfather whose late wife favored fine clothes has special gifts made for the family members she loved.

An artist's rendering of a stuffed monkey made of assorted fabric swatches

My husband’s grandma, whom we all called Nana, was a stylish woman and she loved showing my daughter, Allison, her only great-grandchild, her collection of purses and jewelry. Even though Allison was only three when Nana passed away last year, they already had a special bond.

Which made recent presents from my husband’s grandfather so touching: He had Nana’s clothes quilted into pillows for the adults and a stuffed monkey for Allison. He put personal tokens in a pocket in each item. We recognized the fabric from Nana’s favorite purse (or “the Vault,” as she called it), as well as pieces of the blouses she wore with such panache.

Tucked inside our pillow was a pearl brooch and the badge Nana’s father wore as the Massachusetts chief of civil service. Allison’s monkey held one of Nana’s bracelets—something she can wear when she gets older. We love having something to hug when we want to feel closer to Nana.

If you’re crafty enough to make your own keepsake gifts, try one of the patterns at If a pillow is more your speed, check out

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