This quilt was made by my sister, brother and me in 1995, for my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. It was a surprise for them. Months before the event we sent out many envelopes containing pieces of unbleached muslin fabric and brown Micron Pigma pens. They went to friends and family, asking them to write a brief message or favorite memory involving my parents on the pieces and return them to us. Meanwhile my siblings and I took the rest of the muslin pieces and wrote things like all our old addresses, favorite family vacations, significant events in our familiy's life and our own memories of growing up with Mom and Dad. The centers of the blocks held dates—their wedding, the birth dates of each child and grandchild and finally the date and location of the anniversary celebration. When all the pieces came together it really was beautiful and filled with love for Mom and Dad.
They loved it. During the family weekend we spent at Wallawa Lake when we gave it to them they spent hours pouring over it, reading the messages and chuckling at the memories. We had left part of it unquilted so that over the weekend everyone there, including even the smallest grandchildren, could do a few stitches in the quilt. It hung in their home for the rest of their lives.
In 1998 both my parents died. First my Dad, then 5 months later, Mom. I took the quilt home and it has hung in my house, out of direct sunlight ever since. It means a lot to me.
The ink from those permanent pens is fading away. Messages from my aunts and uncles, dear friends, many now gone from us, are disappearing. Our friend Priscilla wrote boldly and retraced each letter. Hers will be the last to go, which will not surprise you if you know Priscilla! But it is sad to see just how ephemeral those marks are. The day I can no longer make out what was written will be a hard day.