I wonder how Christmas is celebrated there - surrounded by choirs of angels, their faces reflecting the glory of Christ. Only joy and happiness are felt by all those who share in His glory. Someday ....
At some point shortly after Thanksgiving, I felt I really needed to do something for my children that might bring them comfort and sweet memories of their dad. A friend actually gave me this idea about a year ago when she did this for her girls. I simply hadn't gotten to a point where I thought I could begin the project and let go of some of Al's things. Something came over me that Sunday afternoon - the house was empty - Ryan at work, Michelle at youth group, Colleen and Erik were home and Amy and Forrest were visiting his parents. I headed to my closet.
Al's shirts have been hanging there since we moved in. Ryan would sometimes come down and choose one of his dad's shirts to wear but mostly they hung there - in a way keeping me company. I can remember which ones he wore more often and which ones were my favorites. Sometimes I smiled thinking of him wearing a certain one; sometimes I cried remembering the last time he wore one. But on this afternoon, God was giving me grace and courage to move forward and do something for my children - to share a part of their precious dad that had been comforting me for so long.
With smiles and tears I began to separate out the shirts I knew Ryan or Erik or Forrest might still like and then began to gather at least five shirts that the colors - stripes, plaids and solids - that I could blend together into quilts for each of them. Again, I believe God's hand was guiding me - because before I knew it, I had collected five groups of shirts. Some were long sleeved (a few had ink stains on the front pocket - because once in a while his favorite gel pens would explode!), and others short sleeved. Lots of blue, green, red and gold. I tried to pick ones for each of the kids that I thought also had colors they enjoyed.
A part of me really wanted to head to the fabric store right away to get material for the backs and complimenting fabric to quilt them together but I waited until Tuesday when I would be heading that way anyway - on my way to GriefShare - the ministry I am still involved with - now hoping to help others find healing. Again, God was working with me - I only had an hour and I was able to find a quilt book, another quilt pattern, and all the materials and batting! He never fails me.
Now I had to figure out how I was going to get these done without my daughter and son walking in on me. I shared that I had a sewing project going on in my room and if the door was closed - they had to knock! A few times I had to quick cover things up with a blanket and every night I had to hide all evidence (scraps, patterns and material) before I could go to bed! Michelle and Ryan would come to the door and patiently wait for me to open it a crack but I think they really like surprises so they didn't snoop!
So for the few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas I worked like crazy - cutting the shirts apart was hard but at the same time I felt joy and excitement. My kids have been amazing at making sure that I am doing ok and not alone - especially at holidays or anniversaries and now I was going to hopefully be giving back to them. It was also a busier time at the flower shoppe - so I had extra hours to work - some of them long. But I didn't give up - I knew I could at least get the tops done - but then as they started coming together I became more determined to complete them all. The last few nights I was up until 2 am and Christmas eve I finally had them wrapped and under the tree at 3 am!! God never gave up on me either - and blessed me with giving me the energy and somehow stretching time so I could finish.
So, on Christmas morning when it was my turn to hand out gifts, I chose to give them to the kids all at the same time. (Colleen had received hers in her Christmas packages) We were starting with the youngest - Ephraim and Selah had opened their gifts and Ryan was next. I had also enclosed a card with a note that I hoped when they were really needing a hug from their dad, I hoped these would help. Ryan was looking at it and about the time he recognized what they were made from, Amy looked down and said "Mom, are these Dad's shirts?" The tears started to flow and continued as Michelle and Amy opened theirs and we talked about the various shirts in each quilt.