I am embarrassed to admit that it has taken me over three years to finish making this quilt, and even prepare myself to write this post. The story really begins with my friendship with an amazing girl, right back to when we were teenagers. Elle is one of my oldest and dearest friends. She taught me how to put on makeup. We drank alcohol outside of the dance halls at cattle shows. We’ve shared many secrets and heart-breaking breakups. We’ve laughed and cried til our stomach’s hurt. We are both our biggest cheerleaders. She is a very special part of my life, so when Elle turned up with three trash bags of her beloved father’s shirts and asked if I could make them into something to remember him by, I gladly and more than enthusiastically said “Of course!”.
It took me no time at all to work out what I would do with the shirts I unpacked from those bags, and the journey it would take me on was one I will always remember. Elle’s father was a beautiful man in every sense of the word. He viewed the world in a very special way, and saw the good in everyone. Ellen was a shining light in his eye, and he in hers. It was a beautiful bond, and I’m so honored to have known him and loved him.
Johnny’s shirts were his prized possessions. He wore each of them proudly – to the pub, the races, and to golf. Cutting into those shirts was one of the most exhilarating yet terrifying moments of my life. How on earth was I going to make a quilt that did this man justice? That helped keep his memory alive for one of my dearest friends?
I cried the entire time I made this quilt – through picking a coordinating fabric, cutting and piecing those shirts together, and of course gifting it to Elle and her family. I second guessed myself more times than I should have, and tucked that quilt away on one too many occasions. It took a conversation with my quilter Cassie Madge to work out the quilt design, and the perfect thread that I realised it really was perfect. It didn’t need to be anything more than what it was. The shirts belonged to him, and the quilt was him in every single way. Being given the opportunity was worth more than the fear of not doing a good job, and the journey it took me on as a quilter and as a friend has made me a better person in every single way.
Making a memory quilt from Johnny Mack’s shirts not only preserves the memory of him but gives new life to them. His grandson slept under Poppy Mack’s quilt on Friday night and I’m crying the happiest of tears just writing that sentence. This quilt is something that that little boy can keep and be close to a man that would have given his whole world to meet. I know that John is looking down and remembering the times he wore those shirts proudly – to the pub, to the race and to golf; the friends and people he captivated with his stories and his family whom he would be incredibly proud of. I still maintain that every quilt tells a story, this one in particular, tells a pretty good one.
Here’s to you Johnny Mack – have a beer in heaven for me xx