Thursday, September 11, 2014

9/11 Again

Every time the anniversary of the attacks on the Trade Towers comes around, I stop and give thanks for what I have. While putting a stamped letter in the mailbox this morning, I looked down the street and realized all my near neighbors (next door to us and across the street) had flags or red-white-blue ribbons out. I ran in and fetched a small American flag and fastened it to the side of the mailbox. It's a tiny gesture of remembrance but heartfelt.

All of us remember where we were or what we were doing that bright September morning. I'd heard the breaking news on the radio while washing up breakfast dishes and switched on the TV. Nonstop confusion is the only way to describe the newscasts that morning. I called Rod at work to tell him (he already knew-) and decided to go to the gym like I usually did.

At my gym, the treadmills face several televisions. So while tromping my mile+ again I watched the confusion, the smoke, and tried to understand what I was seeing. And then the plane struck the Pentagon.

I saw the images flash on the screen and stumbled off the treadmill as did everyone else. Someone shouted "Turn it up!" and we gathered underneath the screens and peered upward as we all held our breath. The older man beside me in the Army ballcap muttered, "That tears it-" and abruptly left. Someone was crying. Others were whispering at the edge of the group. I got back on the treadmill and tromped on the terrorists in my mind.

We went to war. And went to war. And went to war. Six long years passed. In 2007 I was teaching at a quilt show in Denver and in a scrap quilt class met a delightful student named Elaine Dumler. A year later I was back in Denver and there was Elaine with her almost completed scrap quilt. We started to talk on a personal level and I learned that she was a writer. She wrote about the challenges of transitioning from wartime duty to stateside postings and how this affected the soldier, the military spouse and indeed the whole family. Her newest book was being edited but she didn't yet have a title. Wheels started spinning in my head. I turned to the index of the book I'd written on the Drunkard's Path pattern and came to the variation called The Road Home. "What about calling it The Road Home -" I said. "Look, it's a variation of the Drunkard's Path pattern-" Then I offered to design and make a quilt for the cover. On the plane ride home I got out graph paper and colored pencils and went to work.

I felt strongly The Road Home needed to be a full-size quilt and enlisted the help of three other people: Mary Frankle, Mary Henris, and Jan Spickett. Enlisted is not the right word--they volunteered! We cut and pieced furiously over a period of several days. Another Marine wife Lori Housel did the longarm quilting and off the quilt went to Elaine for photography. Mary Henris is shown here pinning blocks to the design wall.

The free pattern for The Road Home quilt is on my website and can be downloaded. Click here  Road Home Quilt .

Like the little flag tied to the mailbox, it's a small gesture but what I can offer on this solemn day. After last night's speech by President Obama and the realization that we are not done by any means in the Middle East, today I am taking this anniversary seriously.