Christmas Gift

This week we hosted a reunion of our family and former neighbors.

Our fourteen-year-old grandson, David, met two neighborhood children when they were all two-years-old. We were his full-time caregivers while his mom, our daughter, worked. David was at our home every weekday and grew up with the kids in our neighborhood. As time passed, changes were inevitable. Jill’s family moved to Washington DC and Bobby’s moved to a different part of Tucson. We kept in touch sporadically during the years as the kids grew. Our grandson was, for a while, in the same school as Bobby, when he lived across the street. But by the age of seven, they were all separated with Jill being the farthest.

The boys get together several times a month and remain close friends. Our daughter took David to Washington DC one summer to visit Jill and her family. Another summer, they met halfway in Chicago. Jill’s family visited Tucson once and all three kids got together.

This year they made the trip to Tucson for a short visit. We hosted the reunion at our house. All the adults wondered how the teens would react to each other after a four-year separation. By noon the boys sat by the window watching for Jill’s arrival. It was an amazing greeting. All three kids moved right into the space of their friendship as if only a day or two had passed. They chatted non-stop. In the afternoon they took a two-hour walk while we, grownups, were fixing dinner. They bought sweet rolls for our dessert.

After dinner, the kids went into the room that we keep for David’s occasional overnights; the room that once housed his toys and where he napped as a baby. On his walls are photo posters that I made each year from when he was two until seven. All three kids are in those posters. They stayed in the room reminiscing over their pictures, laughing and talking for quite a while. I know those memories meant something to them.

Greater than any wrapped present, purchased or made, is the gift of friendship. We know these three will maintain their relationship as they become adults. Each is on the brink of adulthood now, each has their own interests, their unique set of talents, their own friends at schools but they will always remember the closeness that came of their time as children. Another reunion, possibly in California, is being planned for summer. David has no siblings, Bobby has no siblings, and Jill has a sister seven years younger. The relationship the three teens created is very like brothers and sister – family.

On Reflection – My Birthday Quilt

A patchwork of life

I have good health, a comfortable life, great memories, and positive people around me. I would be an absolute fool to not be grateful and feel blessed for all I have been given. Reviewing my journals, in an attempt to organize them, and talking with friends who called with warm birthday wishes set me to thinking of my life – as a quilt. Every person I’ve known through time is a patch on my quilt; small patches for brief acquaintances, larger ones for enduring relationships, and others somewhere in between.

The idea of a quilt came to me as I thought of my friend, Mary, who is a premier quilter and teacher. She helped me begin a quilt many years ago that today resides in a plastic box at the top of my closet, still in pieces. I don’t have the patience to sew but I loved the idea of making a quilt. Mary offered to finish it for me, but I’d rather do it myself. Maybe. Someday. I will begin again. In the meantime, my imaginary quilt is easy to piece together using the threads of memory.

Each patch has its own texture to match the person it represents from cozy chenille to fluid silk or satin, smooth cotton to linen, sturdy denim to rough scratchy burlap. Each patch has a shape – round, square, animal, flower, star, or leaf. Each square or shape has a color – bright or dull, dark or light, some printed with polka-dots, flowers, stripes or plaids, even animal prints (you know who you are).

A bright yellow silk patch is for the woman I can call on at any hour of the day or night. I can tell her the most outrageous thoughts; she understands me and never takes offense. How blessed am I to have her in my life? One animal print square is for my amazing friend who has the grace of a jaguar, the energy of a box of kittens, and the bright smile of a Cheshire cat. She lights my day. Another friend gets a white canvas triangular piece because it reminds me of him and sailing. My imagination has fabricated a giant quilted panorama for the story of my life.

A blue denim horse shape is for an old boyfriend whose memory still makes me smile. A pink chenille star is for someone I always think of as a soft snuggly part of my life. A boldly patterned cotton chintz in cool green, shaped as a flower represents a woman who is sturdy, bright, and resilient. The center of my quilt is a deep blue wool piece shaped into a compass rose that always points due north. It is for the man who has shared my life for fifty-eight plus years.

There are patches for my parents (Mama’s is delicate purple polka dots, Daddy’s a deep cinnamon velvet) and grandparents, my brother, and cousins. There are patches for faith, love, and service. There is no thing in my life as important as the people in it and that includes many fur people throughout the years. Each of those furry friends has a shape or square that tells their part in my story too.

A scratchy grey burlap patch is for the boss who attempted to dismiss my contributions to the company we worked for. I told him I would not accept his summary of my annual work review. He balked so I told him I would take my case to his boss with my evidence of accomplishments. Grudgingly he changed the report to my satisfaction.

I know I have been the prickly burlap patch in a few quilts. I am content with that. Every one of us is the hero in our own story and every hero needs an adversary against whom to sharpen their character skills. I hope I’ve been the snuggly chenille or bright silk or smooth cotton for most. No matter – my quilt is bright and beautiful and makes me smile. Thank God!