Celebrate Dad with A Memory Quilt that Tells His Story
Fathers and father figures can become a child’s first forever friends. My dad and I have been best friends my entire life, and I attribute my enjoyment of bad jokes and puns to constantly hearing his. I view my uncles, great-uncles, and one of my grandfathers as other dads because of how much time I have been able to spend with them.
Many of my passions have sprouted from my loving and playful relationships with the father figures in my life. Without my dad, uncles, great-uncles, and grandfather, I never would have been able to foster my love for history, reading, writing, crafting, professional Chicago sports teams, and playing games.
To thank them, especially my dad, I try to give them the most thoughtful gifts I can think of - which becomes difficult to top each year!
A Dad's Story Evolves
I enjoy personalizing gifts as much as possible. My dad is a huge fan of the Chicago Blackhawks and has a themed basement (including a bar and side tables made from repurposed hockey sticks), so getting him gifts to go with his basement is easy.
However, his collection has grown to the point where he has almost anything you can think of that is related to the Blackhawks. Due to this, I was on the brink of running out of ideas for this year’s Father’s Day when it hit me: I can tell his story through a t-shirt quilt from Memory Stitch.
Tell Dad's Story with a Memory Quilt
A t-shirt quilt utilizes old clothing that typically tells a story about someone's milestones, chapters in one's life, or even their hobbies.
Every dad, or father figure, has a story to share before he takes his role. However, my dad says his story truly began when my sister and I were born. He calls me his “biggest baby” (because I am the oldest) and always tells my sister and I how we are his greatest accomplishments in life.
"I am so happy I did this. As a lifelong runner I have run in many road races both in my community and with friends in other towns. I saved almost all of those T-shirts and have been looking for a way to preserve them. I have also worked for many food companies in my career and have t-shirts for products and sales meetings that I have kept and wanted to keep those memories alive in a t-shirt quilt. The quilt is well made and will keep me warm through the New England winter."
As I plan my dad's quilt, I want to acknowledge my dad's passions that he had before my sister and I came along - including shirts that feature his hobbies, like cars, fishing, hunting, football, and action movies. This would be similar to Robert P.'s work and sports jersey blanket that's pictured above.
Like many parents, my dad has worked hard to provide a great life for our family. Due to this, he would work from early in the morning until late at night, which meant that my sister and I would be asleep before he left and when he would come home. However, my dad always made a point to quietly come into our rooms to kiss us goodnight and whisper that he loves us. Sometimes, I would be awake or he would accidentally wake me up, but I always slept better after he left my room. His love for us has been evident my entire life, and I want to show my forever best friend how much his love has impacted his story with a memory quilt.
Uncles Are Dads Too
While my family enjoyed actual vacations growing up, we would often create weekend “staycations,” where we stayed home and had a great time together instead of travelling.
My uncles used to invent games to play with us and we would have friendly competitions between them - my cousins, my sister, and me. Having fun with my uncles is one of my favorite parts of my childhood, and I am sure that Majilis R.'s son can attest to this joy as well.
"My son was so excited to get his quilt with shirts from his uncle that were collected from a place they frequented together often."
Majilis R.'s gift to his son showcasing the t-shirts he has gotten from trips with his uncle demonstrates how having other father figures is such an important part of a child's life. Whether they are an uncle related to the child biologically, through marriage, or a close family friend, uncles offer children more opportunities to learn life lessons, create new memories, experience new activities, and bond with another person. Having more positive role models in a child's life is a great way to help them grow and thrive as an individual.
While my uncles encouraged my creativity with made up games, my great-uncles offered me a new way of creative thinking through education. Most of them live out of state, but I loved when I could see them in person because we would spend hours talking about school, literature, my latest written works, and history. When they were not in town, we would transfer those conversations to phone calls and video chats. To this day, I have to make sure I have at least five hours to talk to them because we will chat for that long!
Without my uncles and great-uncles, I would not have been able to create my own story, nor would their stories have been able to include me. Their stories deserve to be shared, especially since they have become father figures in my life, which I will be eternally grateful for.
A Grandfather's Love Continues
My grandfather also had a significant bond between himself and each of his grandchildren. There were nine of us, and we would switch between one-on-one time to group playtimes. As rambunctious as we were, we were silent during my grandfather's "train shows."
He had created, built, and hand-painted an entire town for his train collection. Either because of our begging or his enjoyment at showing us, my grandfather would gather all of the grandkids around the giant stand and start running the various trains around the tracks.
Sadly, my grandfather passed away in December 2010, and it's memories like these that I always want to live on. While my grandmother did not save enough of his clothes to create a memory quilt, she did save some of my grandfather's favorite button-ups and polos.
"I just want to say a big THANK YOU to MemoryStich.com. They are wonderful just perfect. When my husband was diagnosed with cancer, we talked about what I would do with all his shirts. I told him I would like to make memory quilts for all 8 of our grandkids. He thought that was a wonderful idea. [...] I had pictures of "Pap" with each grandkid printed on shirts to add to the quilt. I had a special poem, picture of Pap, and the grandkids' names embroidered on each quilt. When I received & opened one up, it was our oldest granddaughter's, Emily, who is 25. I saw it first and the beauty and quality overwhelmed me so much that I burst into tears. Emily did too when she opened it. My vision for the memory quilts was realized in each one that I opened. [...] I am sure Pap is smiling down on the beautiful quilts. We miss you Pap."
We've decided to turn them into t-shirt pillows and pillow cases for herself and a few other family members - including me. I can't wait to receive mine so I can always have a little piece of his memories close to me to bring me comfort.
That's truly what makes memory quilts so amazing - you can keep all those precious memories close. I'm so excited about them that I already sent my grandmother a t-shirt quilt gift card!
Let A Father Figure's Story Continue Forever with a Memory Quilt
Even without all of the great memories I have with the father figures in my life, they still have wonderful stories that they can share verbally.
One day, when they are not around to tell these tales, having a special keepsake to represent their lives is even more priceless to have than just looking at pictures.