A Brother's Love
LEWISTON, ID —
Siblings. One of life's greatest joys - and biggest pains.
The Grainger brothers have been through a lot together: an abusive father, a tour of duty. Now, through handwritten words and hand-sewn stitches, these two brothers are being brought together again.
"While we may never know the depth of your sacrifice to serve and protect...."
Those are the words that always come along with a Quilt of Valor presentation, a scene that's played out for thousands of veterans across our region.
"As a gesture of gratitude from a greatful nation, we present to you this Quilt of Valor," the speech goes on, as it has for many years to those many veterans.
However the quilt, stitched by hand to honor a stranger's service and presented in a Saturday morning surprise, was inspired by the loving handwritten words of a brother.
In a cellphone video of the surprise, Eddie Grainger's family claps as Becky Mahurin, from Quilts of Valor, and Adrian Grainger lovingly wrap him in the Marine-themed quilt.
"You need to know your brother nominated you for this," someone says. It prompts a moment of shock, then one of three huge hugs between the brothers.
"Always, my entire life. Always looked up to him. He's always been kind of a hero to me," Adrian says of his older brother.
The quilt surprise started with a chance encounter over the sales counter. Adrian, at his job at Inland Cellular, found himself in a long conversation back in October.
"I learned from Greg what Quilts of Valor was; just a conversation at work. He was a customer and we talked for about an hour."
It was the stranger's hat that did it - 'Veteran.' Adrian immediately thought of his brother Eddie, who retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 2016.
"Being in the Marines, it kind of became his identity over the last twenty years," Adrian adds.
Thus, the letter. It starts off politely, "Dear Quilts of Valor..." and goes on to document the years Eddie was in Iraq. "Felt a lot like a parent. Like, he's my brother, but sleepless nights wondering if he's ok, wondering if he's hungry. It was a struggle when he was over there."
Adrian even wrote about when he and Eddie, who are one year apart, were growing up with a father who took out his anger on the boys.
"There were many times my older brother would step up and take the blame for me, thus ensuring that he would take my father's wrath and the belt rather than let me take it," Adrian reads from the letter.
Each word, each memory, each year spent apart coming together like so many pieces of fabric and thread.
"Being that we are a year apart, there was a lot of sibling rivalry growing up and so I think that a lot of times it got lost in the shuffle, how much I do love him and I think sometimes, sometimes he doesn't think that I do," Adrian says with growing emotion. "It would let him know how much I love and appreciate him and how proud I am of him."
Now, wrapped up in a brother's love, Eddie will likely never forget it. Just like a quilt, being stitched together until something is made whole.
"You are his hero and he will always look up to you and he wanted you to have a Quilt of Valor," Mahurin tells Eddie at the presentation. It prompts the longest of three hugs. "Love you bud."
Another deeply personal aspect for Eddie and Adrian: their grandmother made quilts and Adrian says his brother always loved to wrap himself up in them.
LC Quilts of Valor has honored those who serve and protect our country since 2009, draping their handmade treasures over shoulders that have carried so much.
For more information or to nominate: visit https://lcqov.weebly.com/