My mom is a beautiful seamstress. When I was young she used to make me little smocked dresses and even tiny clothes for my dolls. When I was about four years old, she bought a plain pair of jeans and embroidered all kinds of cool things on them. I remember her letting me pick out what I wanted on my jeans and I chose things that were beautiful like butterflies and things that were special like a pair of glasses which reminded me of my daddy. I still remember my mom working so long and so hard on those jeans and I couldn’t wait for them to be finished so I could wear them! (It was the 70’s so no doubt they were totally in style and bell bottom!) Of course my mom had other responsibilities that went along with being a mom of 4 children and my dad worked long hours at Cook County Jail as a Chaplain. My mom tells me that when she finally finished the jeans my dad took me out to ice cream to celebrate. Those were my most precious piece of clothing and I didn’t want to ever outgrow them.
Craig and I never hesitated to ask mom to alter things or fix things that had torn. We both agreed that there wasn’t anything mom couldn’t fix or do. In fact in our first houses, mom and I sewed all the curtains. I say mom and I, but it was really mom. I cut and measured and ironed but was scared to do the actual work of sewing. But that’s another story. Craig would often come up with projects for mom as well, like taking in his shirts on the sides because he had broad shoulders but was thin. Mom knew how to make them look perfect on him. I remember the time he bought a ton of fabric and asked mom to make him a custom green screen on one side and a black screen on the other for his video shoots. Of course mom did it. I could go on and on but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the amazing Halloween costumes she sewed for her grandkids. We had bears with claws for the boys first Halloween and Ewoks, a white kitty, a cow, a skunk, little lambs, etc. Mom’s sewing has always blessed our family.
When my beloved Craig passed away, mom came down to stay with me in San Jose. She cooked, she cleaned, she hugged me and cried with me. And of course she brought her sewing machine. When mom offered to make a quilt out of Craig’s shirts, I quickly said, “Yes, please! But I’m not ready yet, Mom. I just want his shirts to stay hanging in the closet for a while and please, mom, whatever you do, don’t touch his laundry.” At night, I would sleep in Craig’s t-shirts and sweatpants so I could smell him and I didn’t want to lose that smell. Mom totally understood that and said, “Okay, I won’t. Let’s just start looking for a pattern so we can find just the right one.” We searched and searched but nothing was special enough for this final sewing task for Craig. Until one day, close to Valentine’s Day, mom came across a pattern on Pinterest called “Pieces of My Heart.” Yes! This was it! I immediately knew it. It had little hearts on strings which would represent the “balloon” analogy of our relationship. And the center took scraps of fabric to make a huge heart. I worried that it looked much to difficult and painstaking but mom said she wanted nothing but the best for Craig.
When I went back to work a month after Craig passed away, my mom was home alone at my house and needed a task. After asking the kids if it was okay with them, I gave her the okay to go into our closet, pick whatever plaid or solid cotton shirts she needed of Craig’s and cut them into strips. And so began the most beautiful gift she has ever given me.
Mom encouraged me to print some of Craig’s card messages onto his shirts. So I read through his cards and picked out some favorites from different occasions, Mother’s Day, Easter, Christmas, our Anniversary and my last birthday. Karimy imported the pictures into Photo Shop and sized them to fit in 3” wide fabric strips. These messages would be there to comfort me on the difficult “special days” coming up. I loved seeing Craig’s writing printed on his shirts; reminders of his love to me.
Another cool part of the quilt was all the little hearts made out of felt. Mom decided to use a couple pairs of Craig’s soft denim jeans to back them in. The kids and I each made a heart for the quilt. Soon mom started personalizing the hearts to mean something special. There were red roses and Queen Anne’s lace to remind me of the flowers Craig loved to pair together for me. There was a beautiful green rose to remind me of his incredible roses at his services and on his casket spray. And then other people started coming up with ideas. Karimy said, “Gigi, you need to make a camera.” Alec said, “You need a guitar.” Cameron said, “What about a dive flag?” I thought, “Chocolate chip cookies! I can make that heart!” Cheryl said, “You need a Sea Hawk heart” so mom spent days embroidering one. And one by one the hearts were lovingly made. Friends and family made special hearts that reminded us of Craig. Cheri made a Starbucks cup; Debbie made an “I ❤️ NY” and Emily made an antique typewriter. My sister Sherry made an eagle flying over Whidbey Island. Oh the love and memories that were sewn into these hearts. With the sewing, came tiny bits of healing and thanksgiving for the great times we had with Craig. I couldn’t wait to come home from work and see what mom had done on my quilt. I couldn’t wait to snuggle up with it.
After two and a half months with me, mom went back home in April and took the parts of the quilt with her. She insisted on carrying on her suitcase that had all the precious ‘pieces of my heart’ in it, even when they tried to gate check her bag.
When Alec graduated from Westmont College in May, Mom met us in Santa Barbara and surprised me with the amazing finished product. I cried. I laughed. I rejoiced. It was finished and just perfect. Such a gift to me that I will always treasure. It reminds me of the verse about how (sinful) earthly parents give good gifts to their children. And how much more our Heavenly Father gives good gifts to us, starting with His Holy Spirit, who is always with us. The great comforter.
“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your Father in heaven
give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!””
Luke 11:13 NIV
Counting every blessing these days. Sometimes it is very intentional. Especially on the difficult days.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,
who does not change like shifting shadows.”
James 1:17 NIV
I am blessed beyond all measure. Been singing this song a lot lately.
Now I am literally wrapped in love with pieces of my heart.
Thank you to all who have reached out to love and encourage the kids and I. Today, June 26th, marks six months since Craig entered Heaven. We could not have gotten this far without the precious love and provision of our Lord and the army of His followers.