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Friday Slide Show: A Memorial Quilt Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

16 June 2017

We are a funny species. When someone dies, we leave their things just as they were. If we're pressed to explain, we might confess that we have a sneaking suspicion that they might be needed again.

It's silly, we realize, but it's a feeling we can't shake.

Sooner for some, later for others, the clean-out begins. Maybe the house has to be sold. Or more room is needed for the living. Or it's just time to move on.

The jewelry box is emptied, its contents dispersed to the heirs. And the clothes? Bundled up and carted off to Goodwill.

In just a few days it will be seven years since we lost Reva, Joyce's mother and matriarch of that branch of the family.

We have her blouses here.

But not in the closet. Instead they were packed away by Reva's granddaughter Whitney one day. She had a plan.

She cut them up and made a memorial quilt out of them.

Reva was famous for her blouses. She's wearing one in our favorite photo of her, which Joyce took on a visit home in July 2000 with the Nikon 900.

She was looking over the younger generations, just a step away from the kitchen at her oldest daughter's house, where she'd been busy helping out so everyone else could enjoy the party.

She used to keep a tissue tucked into the sleeve of her blouse, as Whitney recalled in her eulogy, "just in case."

She and her husband Tom had five daughters. And that led to five sons-in-law. And we have to say not only did the sons-in-law always get along like brothers, but Reva loved every one of them like a son.

And even more than that, she really liked all of us, different as we were. And it was, for each one of us, mutual.

Well, back to that quilt. One quilt for five daughters? Whitney had a problem.

But she solved it the way Reva would have. She miraculously made five quilts. That guy with the loaves and fishes trick had nothing on her.

She sent them all over the country a couple of Christmases ago. And there was never so much crying in this house.

It was as if Reva did need her blouses again. To just one more time in one more way put her arms around us.

Just in case.

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