So my mom does this thing. She sews together pieces of random fabric and makes something beautiful. Some people would call her a gifted seamstress or a talented quilter, but it's much more.
Within days of Eric's passing, I cleaned out his least sentimental items--t-shirts, underwear and mismatched socks. Pretty easy to toss and I could finally stop feeling guilty about the socks I had lost and the t-shirts that I couldn't keep white. Done, just like that. Jeans are just jeans, they all look the same. They were easy to part with, as well, and the additional drawer space was a nice consolation prize for my efforts.
A few weeks later when I gathered up the strength to work through his closet, I was faced with a couple dozen button down shirts--mostly long-sleeved, some linen, most cotton, all patterned with plaids, stripes and checks. Of course, I loved them all because as head of the procurement department, I had hand-picked each of them with him in mind. Quite honestly, I really miss shopping in the men's department and bringing home a nice crisp shirt for Eric to tell me that he didn't need.
We had a little game that we played. He would ask what he should wear to church or out for the evening. I would grumble that I had to dress him and three children... He would appear in something that he picked out on his own due to my grumbling. I would say, "You're going to wear that?" He would give me that look and respond, "Wouldn't it have saved us both some time if you had just told me what to wear in the first place?" He was right.
So these shirts. I folded and packed them in a plastic bin. I couldn't bear the thought of unloading them at a local thrift store. I didn't necessarily want to see them worn by anyone that I know and it seemed silly to hold onto them in the hope that someday the boys would want to wear them.
Enter my mom. After my grandmother passed away, she made the most amazing quilt out of my grandma's polyester shirts. Every time I look at it, I'm reminded of being with her--which was always good. Just days after my first chemo when Eric taking care of me on my worst days, he walked into the bedroom with that quilt--the grandma blanket, as we called it. I couldn't get warm and nothing in my body felt right. He laid the blanket over me and tucked it all around my sick edges. He said, "I thought maybe you could use a little love and encouragement from your grandma." That is one of my very favorite memories of Eric.
I gave the bin of shirts to my mom, with a printout of a simple quilt pattern called "Crossed Canoes" which just made sense. I know it took her a few months and a couple of tries before she could cut into them and get started on the process of making quilts for each of my kids. She would come visit and take along squares that she was working on to show us the progress. Each new square was sweet reminder of the normal days that had slipped away.
When the quilts were done, there was still plenty of fabric left so she made table runners that will be Christmas gifts for Eric's family--shh, don't tell them. There were also ones that were made for me and the kids.
Last, but certainly not least, my mom told me that she thought she could squeeze out 3 baby blankets. Blankets for me to tuck away and give to the grandbabies who would never get to meet their Grandpa Rynders while on earth. She said that this way they could always be wrapped up in his love and also his legacy.
This fabric story is just a glimpse of the amazing mother that I've been blessed with. Her wisdom, her strength, and her faith make me want to do better each and every day. To give to my kids what she so willingly gives to me. What I love most is that she has no idea how amazing she is. She creates beauty and sweetness in the hard places. She does this in her handiwork, but more importantly she does it in life.