A quilt full of memories
It’s no secret that I am not a fan of February, but always feel guilty for that declaration because our College Guy (the erstwhile Boy Wonder to me) came into the world in the same month. His birthday falling just a few short days following our family’s worst day. I will never forget having to celebrate his 11th birthday in intensive care. Born in one of the worst winters this Southern girl has ever experienced, the weatherman threw hot water in the air and watched it freeze before it hit the ground the day he was born. Although no one would agree to my terms in my heart I think the calendar should be divided into “Grief Riddled February” for the first nineteen days and the remaining ones (depending on the year) can be “We Survived February” where we can celebrate our son’s birthday without the shadow grief clouding everything.
A few days before Reed’s heaven anniversary date my heart broke again when I learned that College Guy had a very important and unbreakable commitment that he could not skip on his birthday. I know he’s really perceptive, but I don’t think that he noticed the tears which I swiftly wiped away at our favorite burger place. His announcement was the one that I knew would be inevitable at some point, but I wasn’t prepared nor ready to not spend time with our son on his actual birthday. I don’t ride rollercoasters in real life, and this emotional one was proving almost too much to bear.
Of all of our children, he has always been the hardest to shop for, because he is honestly grateful for anything. Ask for a wish list, and he will respond with “I have everything I need”. This year, however, I was ready with a plan. Okay, it was almost two years in the making, but I, at least, was ready.
He had been saving his favorite shirts since fifth grade which ironically was the same year that everything changed in his and our lives. For high school graduation, we gave him a trip of his choosing and a promise to create a quilt out of those t-shirts he had meticulously saved.
Sadly, like many things in my sewing room this project became another PH-D or Project Half-Done. I finally decided that my 2017 Craft Resolution would be when I have time, I will devote myself to getting some of these PH-D’s done and I won’t buy any new craft projects, I think. So far, I have remained steadfast with that resolution. The timing of finishing the quilt coincided with College Guy’s birthday; so I knew I had the perfect gift for the guy who rarely, if ever, wants anything.
The conditions were not ideal as we unfurled the quilt in the restaurant’s parking lot in order to snap a picture. You could tell he was revisiting old memories as much as I was. When life gets in the way of living, you can often lose sight of the trees in the forest. So it was with the quilt, as the significance of some of those old shirts hadn’t really sunk in. Standing in the parking lot, they came rushing back and in those memories came the reminders of some of the most amazing ways people loved and supported our little guy, now all grown up.
There are camps, mission trips, Boy Scouts, 4H, family Christmases, and school memories stitched into that quilt. And then there is the one from his experience with the drumline when the band director from a neighboring school heard that our guy couldn’t play football so he invited him to join his group for some amazing beats. One proves that love extends beyond school spirit because it came from the head coach of an opposing team who poured out kindness after kindness for our son. One represents all the responding units who came to help the day of the bus crash. Another is a word that was used to describe our son because he embodies courage in the face of adversity.
But sprinkled in a few squares on the quilt are odd shaped green pieces of t-shirt now appliqued onto denim from the cast he never had. After hearing that he was hospitalized with a broken leg, his sweet 5th grade classmates sent notes of encouragement saying they couldn’t wait for him to return to school so they could sign his cast. We had to burst their bubble by explaining the kind of broken bones he had couldn’t be cast and required major surgery with pins and plates. Some sweet soul decided that if these kids wanted to sign a cast, they would just make a substitute. A t-shirt was purchased in his favorite color and every child in the class signed it.
I am no expert quilter, and honestly if you saw the tears I shed out of frustration when binding this quilt you would wonder why I even make quilts at all, but I have to believe this is the first quilt in history that has a cast sewn into it.
More than that, all of those special memories remind me of God’s promises to love and support our family, including the birthday guy. The remembrances of that love shared through incredible and amazing folks helped me to endure this February.
And for that I am incredibly thankful!