In January 2013, my (third) foster mother decided she’d like to winter with us here in south central Texas. She lives in Iowa and she was so over Iowa winters and had been for many years. She usually went to visit her former sister-in-law in Arizona but she wanted to come stay with us, to get a better feel for our kids and our family dynamics. I had went up to see her in the summer of 2010 with our two younger kids, but she hadn’t met my husband or our two older kids. She was more than welcome to spend six weeks with us, we would enjoy her and vice versa!
A couple of months before she arrived, I had received a quilt back from Kathryn Rister. It was my 2012 block of the month quilt from my sister-site BOMquilts.com called “Bittersweet Churning” in jewel-toned fabric colors. It was a beautiful quilt top but was even more beautiful after Kathryn quilted it than it was when I sent it to her. Oh my! She really lets a quilt talk to her, and she listens all the same! I really don’t think ‘beautiful’ is a nice enough word to give to the finished product after Ms. Kathryn finished with it, it was THAT good!!!
When we knew my foster mother was coming mid-January, my family and I agreed that we’d have a little Christmas with her. When I told her that, she thought it’d be fun, too! And since I’d just received this quilt back from Ms. Kathryn, I felt no one deserved it more than she did!
In July this year, my foster mother suffered a stroke. While in the hospital, she asked her best friend to bring her some of her comforts from home, and one of those things was this quilt that I had gifted to her. Unfortunately, she passed away in early September. However, I wanted to share the love that she and I shared so I asked her daughter, that unless my former foster father had other plans for this quilt, that I’d really like for it to go to my foster mother’s best friend.
You know what? Her best friend now has it, and hopefully it will bring her a whole lot of quilty hugs in the years ahead, while braving those cold Iowa winters. And hopefully it will also remind her of the very special relationship that she had with her best friend, who will give her quilty hugs for years to come, and try to talk her OUT of spending those cold Iowa winters…in Iowa! :}
Do you know what this image stands for? Do you utilize your DASH? What’s with a DASH anyway?
We all have a DASH. Let me tell you about my younger brother Tom’s DASH.
Tom when he was about a year old
Tom was born on October 5, 1965. Tomorrow should have been his 52nd birthday. He was the second son born to my parents. He had a bit of a rough time when he was young (ADHD), though our dad got quite a kick out of him and his antics! 🙂 He tried not to laugh as he was listening to Mom tell him what Tom had done this time or that time, in order to determine how many spankings Tom would have to endure, but sometimes he just couldn’t help himself! Of course, those were the times that Tom would always try to replicate, just to get the attention and another laugh or two out of our dad.
Tom is in the front row on the left. Do you see that smirk on his face? Whatever he did, it made me burst out laughing!
I used to get so darned aggravated at Tom when we were in elementary school! When he wouldn’t do his school work, or threw a fit or for whatever reason, he’d get sent to the principal’s office and they would call our dad to come pick him up. I was the only calming influence in his life at that time so every time he’d get sent to the principal’s office, I’d get called out of class and have to go sit with him until our dad came and picked him up. Then I was not just aggravated that I was called out of class, I was even more aggravated that Tom got to go spend the rest of the day with our dad while I had to go back to class!!!
Tom is on the far right in the photo above, we are standing with our dad.
Little did we know that we’d be left orphans by the time I was 12-years-old. My three brothers were raised in Missouri and I was sent from to a couple of bad foster homes (bad and sad circumstances in one of them) before I went to live with an aunt and uncle in Nebraska. I really missed my brothers. I didn’t realize it until I was in my late teens, but once I was old enough to find my way back to them, I made sure that’s where I ended up.
Unfortunately, Tom continued to have problems. He had mental health problems, most likely inherited from the maternal side of our family. He hated the way the medications that were prescribed to him made him feel so he would self-medicate with alcohol and later with other substances. He was in prison more than half of his adult life but it didn’t matter to me, I loved him unconditionally and made sure I told him so, each and every time I wrote and talked to him.
There were a couple of years, though, when he was on the straight and narrow. He was so very proud of his sobriety and I was so very proud of him, too! And during those two years, he helped create a very special delivery by way of his son, Cody. I was attending classes at Mizzou on the day that Cody was born, but he was born at the University of Missouri-Columbia Hospital, so I wasn’t too far away from them. As soon as I was finished with my classes, I went over to visit Tom, his wife and Cody. I will never forget the look on Tom’s face when the nurse showed me his son through the hospital window. Pride, love, awe, excited and nervous all shown through his face and in his eyes.
Tom with Cody on the day that Cody was born
He loved Cody to pieces! Tom’s wife divorced him when Cody was quite young but that didn’t stop Tom’s love for Cody, if anything, it made his love that much stronger.
Once Cody was all grown up, along came Tom’s granddaughter, Mylah in 2013. Once again, Mylah stole his heart the day she was born and every day thereafter. Oh how he loved Mylah, and he loved being a grandpa!
Papa (pronounced Paw Paw) Tom and his granddaughter, Mylah
Mylah, Tom’s Granddaughter & Cody, Tom’s Son
He loved her so much that when Cody moved to Colorado, Tom moved there, too. Just because he needed and wanted to be close to her. Cody was a shy child but not Mylah! And, just like Dad, Tom got a kick out of Mylah’s antics. He even encouraged her to do them, too!
The whole point of this blog post is about Tom’s DASH and I have yet to talk about it. Read on!
Tom was an amazing carpenter! If it involved anything to do with building a house, remodeling a room or building things with wood, Tom was your man. He made and sold toy boxes, including one for Mylah.
A Toy Box Made by Tom
He also made intricate baskets out of pine wood. He sent me one and I was floored at how truly fabulous it was. He hid the nails on them so well that you couldn’t see and/or find them!
A Basket Made by Tom
A DASH is found between the born date and death date on a tombstone. Tom passed away on 1/2/2017. His DASH was the legacy of his carpentry that he left behind for those he loved and for those who he sold his wares to. I thank God that he gave me Tom. And I praise Him for Cody and Mylah, too.
Our son earned his Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Eagle Award in December 2016 but there’s a whole lot of signatures, paper shuffling and red tape that has to happen before we could plan his Eagle Court of Honor. We finally got the green light toward the end of February 2017, but then we had to coordinate schedules with some key relatives and mentors to our son. We finally set a date for May 2017 and that set the Eagle wheels in motion!
About seven or eight years ago, Robert Kaufman fabrics designed an entire colorway of BSA fabrics (this was before they were sold in fabric shops instead of quilt shops). They had fabrics for both Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. So when the fabrics hit the quilt shops, I ordered a fat quarter bundle of both as well as a bolt of two different Boy Scout fabrics. I had been saving them for a very special occasion, and that occasion happened in December of 2016. Once he earned his BSA Eagle Award, I dusted the fabrics off (I still had the Boy Scout fabric in the plastic shrink-wrap it was sent to me in) and started making him a quilt. A very special quilt, indeed!
I purchased a machine embroidered file of an eagle and embroidered it on one of the official BSA quilt fabric squares.
Then I embroidered a special message on another official BSA fabric square:
By the time it was finished, I had sewn and embroidered the (very busy) quilt top, my husband quilted it on our longarm and my son’s grandmother sewed the binding on the back of the quilt. It was a family affair!
It was 1969 and we lived in a small town in north central Iowa. We were a family with two parents and six stair-step kids. I think our house only had three bedrooms so my three brothers must have shared one, our sister and I shared another and our folks and infant baby brother were in the third one. We had a basement and I think one of my mom’s brothers lived down there. My memories are a bit spotty, though, since I was rather young when we lived there.
However, I do remember kindergarten roundup! My older brother Mike was in kindergarten and since I was a year younger than he was, he was able to bring me to school with him one day so that I could get a feel for what kindergarten was like. Back then, you were either in morning kindergarten or afternoon kindergarten – not like it is now where most schools have kindergarten all day long.
I was oh so excited to get to go to school! My maternal grandma used to teach in a one-room schoolhouse before she married my grandpa so, in order to keep us little ones busy, she played school with us. I don’t think my siblings played school with Grandma but I absolutely loved to!
Wasn’t I cute?! Those curls in my hair were natural. All my mom had to do was roll a strand of hair around her finger and the curls stayed like what you see in the photograph above all day. Well, that is unless I played like the tomboy that I was – climbing trees, scaring my brothers, wrestling with them, running all over our block chasing after them, etc.
So hand in hand, Mike and I walked to kindergarten. Our older sister was with us, too, but she was too cool to hold our hands, though she probably walked a ‘safe’ distance in front of us. ‘Safe’ meaning close enough to keep an eye on us but not so as her friends would notice that we were her siblings. The school was only two or three blocks down the road from our house, if I remember correctly; and back then, it was no big deal for kids to walk to school without a parent or other adult making sure they made it there and back without someone taking them.
I had such a great time in kindergarten! I don’t remember the teacher’s name but she spoke to me in a very nice voice. I know we wrote some things with big fat pencils and we colored some things with big fat crayons. We also played with toys, toys that I’d never seen or played with before! I had a blast!
When we got home from kindergarten, Mike walked in the door, spitting mad. He informed Mom that he was never, ever, ever taking me to kindergarten with him again. And when the next school year rolled around, he wasn’t walking with me to school and he would not ever take me to my classroom. When Mom asked him why, he was too angry to answer her.
Later on at supper, he was finally able to talk. He told everyone at the table that the reason he was upset with me was because when it was story time, all of the kids sat in a semi-circle to listen to the teacher read a book to them. All except for me. I was over playing with the toys! And no matter how many times the teacher tried to convince me to come join the rest of the class, I told her I could hear her read the book just fine, I just wanted to play with the toys because we’d never had any of them at home and probably never would.
Poor Mike. He was so embarrassed by his little sister. All because I wanted to play with the toys. Mike, I’m pretty sure you’ve forgiven me for this by now but if not, send more toys!