Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A quilt for Casey

Sometimes creating memories can be surprising as well as caring. No one knows the process better than Jean Crites, a long-time resident of Wilmington. Jean’s music students are spread across the nation. Her creations and gifts reach almost as far.

Jean loves to bestow hand-made gifts when friends and family have birthdays, babies, or weddings - a true testament of her love for others. Her quilt for Casey began as a surprise.

Jean was in a local store, Warings, getting materials to frame a picture, when she saw a picture on cloth. She was intrigued. Her granddaughter, Casey, was turning eighteen soon. The “wheels started turning,” and she thought, “Why not a quilt for my granddaughter?”

Later, as Jean reviewed her pictures, she was surprised at how fast the memories began to flood her mind. She began reminiscing about Casey’s birth, about Casey and her brother in the cockpit of a 737 their father, Joe, was flying for A/A, about Casey as a bridesmaid in a wedding and, finally, about Casey’s graduation from high school.

Jean organized the pictures and added some “embroidered old-fashioned girl squares.” When blue material, “girl squares,” and the pictures were pieced together, she knew the gift was special. Her eyes sparkle as she remembers, “A good friend and neighbor, Kelly Kay, did the quilting. It was really an exhilarating, fun experience. Casey’s at Ohio State - made the Dean’s List - and uses the quilt on her bed. Modern Homemakers had a party for my 90th birthday where I shared the quilt. Thus, the crown on my head in the picture.”

Perhaps Jean was taught long ago about creating memories. She has a priceless wedding ring quilt and an even more “expensive” story.

“My Wedding Ring Quilt is handed down from my mother,” says Jean. “When I was 10 years old, living in Struthers, Ohio, the neighbor’s cat came across the street and howled under my brothers’ bedroom window night after night. They’d finally had enough, and boys being boys, they shot the cat with a BB gun. The neighbor lady was furious even though my mother made the boys apologize. She wouldn’t speak to Mother for three or four long years.”

Jean smiles as she recalls that “one day she came over with this beautiful quilt, saying it was her penance for being angry. Quilter friends have said she must have been extra penitent, for she added an extra row of tiny pieces which are not a part of the original pattern!”

Understandably, Jean cherishes that quilt. When the quilt is passed on, the story goes with it. She’s written the story on cloth and attached it to the back - a surprising “flip side” to a time-consuming creation!

By Beverly Drapalik

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