Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

December 12, 2012

Patchwork of memories from his sweetheart

By Keith Kappes - Publisher

Dec. 12, 2012 — Lois loved tee shirts.

She didn’t think of herself as a collector but she owned dozens of the simple cotton shirts shaped like a T.

A small, slender woman who spent most of her life as a homemaker, she found tee shirts to be comfortable and casual apparel, a perfect fit for her lifestyle.

And as with all of her clothing, she knew how to take care of tee shirts.

When the shirts got too old or too ragged to wear, she laundered them carefully and wrapped them in tissue paper to be stored like a treasure.

She had tee shirts from colleges, from cartoon characters, from TV commercials, from places she’d been and other situations.

She had white ones and colored ones and even a couple that were tie-dyed.

No question about it, Lois loved tee shirts.

When she died last summer at the age of 85, her husband and their four daughters had the sad task of determining what to do with all of her clothes.

The dressy clothes and most of the casual stuff went to family, friends and various clothing charities but the tee shirts were too special, too personal for a quick decision.

Later, as they worked through the drawers filled with tee shirts, her family members took turns laughing and crying as they recalled her in particular shirts.

But that journey back to happier days before her final illness had the most impact on Ray, her husband of almost 67 years.

His eyes frequently brimmed with tears as he pictured his sweetheart in her many tee shirts across the timeline of their lives together.

It was after one of those tender, tearful moments that a loving conspiracy was hatched.

Ray’s daughters decided to select a combination of her favorite tee shirts to become the top of a new quilt for his bed.

The quilt would be a keepsake of memories for this grieving, 88-year-old man struggling to find direction after losing his life’s companion.

The daughters shared the quilt plan, much to their father’s delight, and he picked out the material to which the blocks of tee shirt fabric were attached.

No less than a dozen women, including daughters, granddaughters and granddaughters-in-law, affectionately put stitches into that quilt.

An old saying among quilters is “those who sleep under a quilt, sleep under a blanket of love.”

And that’s exactly where Ray now sleeps each night, wrapped in the warm companionship of the love of his life.