Thursday, December 13, 2007

July 4th...

Well, yeah I know it isn't July... You see, this is how it starts...

Every spring, around April, I get all geared up to make a Quilt of Valor. A quilt for a soldier. I figure that I could finish it by July. Seems, kinda, more patriotic that way. Does it ever happen? Nope. The quilt always gets done, mind you, but closer to Christmas than 4th of July. And every year, I have no idea where the quilt is going...but by the time I am finished, someone has told me about "this soldier" and suddenly my quilt has a home. It just works out that way. Quilt done by Christmas and going to a soldier that knows somebody that I know. So I don't consider it a failure. Just a slight delay.

I think this quilt has a cool story. I started it in, yep, April. Some of you may remember the starter block. I messed around with the design until I came up with something I (and the guys in my family) liked. I loved the printed batik. Maybe not traditional patriotic fabric, but it works for me. So I have my design and a stack of fabric and I start cutting and sewing. I had to put the project up at the end of May because I was going on a big trip out West, to Oregon. Here's where it gets kinda fun.

I waited in the airport for 5 hours. No, this is not the fun part, but it had a vital role in the unfolding of this story. There was a rainstorm in Ft. Worth, so the planes were all delayed. When we finally boarded our plane, I was a little stir crazy and knowing me, I strike up a conversation with my flight companion. Now, I don't always do this. I flew all the way to Boston with nary a word passing my lips aside from, "Diet Coke, please." See? I can be quiet when I wanna be. But I had sat and sat and sat at the Indianapolis airport... and I was ready to reconnect with the human race. So... my flight companion. He was an older gentleman. A sweet face. I said hello and aren't you glad we're finally taking off and why are you traveling to Ft Worth? Yes, it was nosy and I hate to say it, but I'll get a whole lot worse in just a few minutes. He says he is going to help his daughter take care of her new baby while her husband comes to Indy for the 500. I said how sweet that was. Then I ask if he's retired and he said no, he was going to retire, but then his wife passed away and what was the point of being home all day, alone? Well, that is very sad, indeed. How did she pass?- oh, yes, I did. Can you believe it? Well, he starts to munch rather slowly on his package of trail mix... She had been sick for a while and then she took her own life. Oh! I am so sorry! And incredibly shocked- not at all the answer I would have expected. But you know what? He seemed to really want to talk about it. I'm not just saying that because I pried it out of him. He didn't get into details, thankfully, but he was really working through his grief and it was, oddly enough, a beautiful thing to hear and watch as he described how he had finally decided that her actions weren't a reflection of him and their 40 year marriage. She was a good mother and wife, but she had diabetes and mental illness and a failing mind can kill you just as fast as a failing heart can. That made a whole lot of sense to me. Chronic illness takes it's toll on the whole person.

He had a very gentle way about him. He went on to describe his family and you could just see how proud he was of his son and daughter. His son was in the Navy and was due to retire in 2008- he loved the Navy, but he knew he needed to be home with his wife and three small children... Eureka! Yep, I just got my military quilt an assignment! (I was even more forward and asked him for his address and his son's name... and believe it or not, he gave it to me. I guess I looked harmless enough.) And then he was telling me about his daughter who had finally had her first child at nearly 40 years of age- after years of wondering if it would ever happen- guess who that "Leaping Lizards!" quilt is for? Alex Rex is his grandson.

It's funny how a little conversation with a complete stranger... who had such sadness in his life... made me feel better about the world. Yes, there's a lot of brokenness around us, but there is a lot of strength, too. And that should encourage all of us to keep trying. Maybe, to be more watchful of opportunities to serve and help. Service seems to be politically incorrect, but really, it's a pathway to joy.

15 comments:

Peni said...

Thank you, dear Nines, for adding strength to all our lives by your caring heart.

Julia said...

What an absolute fantastic, heart-warming story!!!! You are one of the kindest souls that I know. I am so glad that you decided to start that conversation. I think that the human race needs to interact with one another more. We seem to go through our lives in our own little world. The way you have touched their lives will stay with them forever.

Laura said...

Wow, what a story, bless you!

Sheila said...

What a story to make the heart sing at this time of year. I believe you were meant to start that conversation!

I've never thought of serving as being politically incorrect, and never heard of it as being such, but then I don't get around much ;). Rather, I prefer to believe that everyone can and will serve when the opportunity has a personal meaning and presents itself at the right moment.

Thanks for the feast posts again this year!

Sheila in Ohio

atet said...

What a great story and such fantastic homes for your quilts!

Susan said...

What a beautiful story. I'm certain you were led to this family, and your questions.

Michele said...

Thank you so much for sharing such a beautiful story.

Angela said...

That is such a sweet caring story. You did good honey.

Lindah said...

What a neat story! Thank you for sharing it. Thank you for being you, sensitive and sweet.

Darcie said...

What a story! I can hardly type for the tears in my eyes. What a blessing for you and this gentleman to be seated next to each other! The Spirit at work through both of you.

You are the sweetest...most selfless human being I have (n)ever met, Nines!!! Blessing to you, my sweet friend!!!

Love you to pieces!

Cheryl said...

Wonderful story, and you were meant to be there with with him!

Librarian Lee said...

Yes, a wonderful story :) Thank you for telling it and for the kindness and noblity you inspire us all to pursue.

Donna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chrissie said...

Very precious! Thank you so much for sharing that with us! God help me to be brave and talk to others and be a help, too! I love the posts of your Children's feast - so sweet!
How God has blessed you, Nines!
Merry Christmas!
Chrissie

Sarah said...

Beautiful!