A Piece of Cake… or Maybe a Shirt

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It’s been a very tough year and a half. For everyone. 

Here we are, March 12th 2021, on the brink of hope. 

We are tentatively stepping out of the neither-land we have been in.

We are all getting shots and debating masks and thinking that summer might bring some normalcy back to our lives. We are thinking about getting back on planes, laying on a crowded beach with all of our face showing, or attending church in person. We are evaluating the cost of our loneliness, how badly our children have fared as schooling has been disrupted, and mourning the loss of getting together for birthdays, deaths, and baseball games. 

But we are human. And we hope. We are ready to celebrate. 

So am I.

On this day, seventy years ago, my husband came into this world.  His birth, his life was part of a plan that God had. Blessedly, it was a plan that included me and the three sons that Silent Bob and I would make, three sons that hold my heart in their hands and will until I am no longer part of this reality. (Well, I believe forever, but for the sake of this story, let’s go with that image). 

If Silent Bob were alive I would ask him what kind of cake he would want. And he would probably tell me one that he has requested many times and I would make it for him as I had done for over four decades. 

I was tempted to make it.

But something else happened. And just like the strange and wonderful tapestry of life that brought Silent Bob to me, two friends who work fine art with machines and needles, suggested an idea. 

Well, they didn’t really suggest. More like they made an offer I couldn’t refuse. 

There is a way that God made women that amazes me. He made them so that their hearts can be so attuned to another’s and can provide such a gentle steeliness in suggestion that they can accomplish a plan to provide aid that undermines any doubt or indecision or grief that would have prevented the aid.

That’s a rather longer sentence to tell you they moved me off of my inability to get rid of the clothes of my two men who now live in Heaven and do something useful with them. 

It’s hard for me not to consider that the things our loved one touch and care about here aren’t somehow an extension of them. Their choices, their aesthetic sensibilities, the uniqueness of them have to be imprinted in the things they have worn and bought and cared for. If you are afraid of missing them beyond what your mind can tolerate, well, there you go, material possession obsession.

They made me bring Silent Bob’s shirts, to the house of one, so we could start a quilt. 

I did my best to resist throughout the afternoon. They were steady as they were steely, employing constantly evolving graciousness, and before you knew it we were taking apart sleeves, removing buttons, and ironing some apparently revolutionary web-bonding-fabric-stuff-thing to fabric that would prevent it from unraveling. 

(Okay I actually never ironed a thing. I did cry and I did use a seam ripper though.)

It’s not lost on me that they weren’t really just keeping the fabric from fraying, fabric that still held the hint of the scent of the man I called husband…

They are amazing women, calling on their own histories, recognizing and offering the peace that happens when shouldering heart ache with another. 

I got home carrying the bag of templates, scissors that I promised would never cut anything but fabric, and a bit of a tender heart. One of the shirts we started with was a one of SB’s favorites. 

My men were sitting around our dinner table and as men are wont to do, they were gentle and undemanding in their recognition that my eyes still carried a bit of red. 

“Did you take that red shirt of Dad’s”, John asked.

“Yes,” I said. 

“He loved that shirt.”

“Yes, he did.”

There was a peace, a certain kind of joy on their faces. An ease.

To my self, I thought, you will each rest easy under the quilt that will remind you of that part of your dad’s sensibilities. A clothes horse he never was, but he did look nice in that red shirt. For the all the qualities that made him the man he was, the parts of good and difficult, its good to remember. It’s good to have a more sane way to do that. 

This is dedicated to Jackie and Judi, equally so but listed in alphabetic order. 




12 Responses

  1. Well said. Reading above brought back many great memories of the time we spent together
    Over the years. He was a great man and a great
    Friend. Sure he’s looking forward to seeing you
    Some day in heaven. Thanks for above it warmed
    My heart. BRGDS JJ

  2. What a wonderful way to remember your loved ones! Jackie and Judi, you two are amazing. I love your servant hearts and how your helping, loving hands are blessing Janet’s heart. I can see her now …. all wrapped up in the most amazing quilt of love. Happy Birthday Silent Bob!

  3. Janet, my friend, when the “shirt quilt” is finished, please post a photo of it! Prayers with you always.😌🙏🌸

  4. I am so glad they are doing this for you. I still have all of Jim’s shirts to do this same thing…haven’t done so yet. Think it may help me to just get them out and start cutting.
    This quilt will comfort you and bring back so many memories. Love you Janet

  5. A beautiful way to remember and to pass to loves ones. My grandmother made quilts and they were all full of clothes she and her children had worn.

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