Many years ago, I was at a Goodwill in Jonesboro, Georgia when I found a wedding quilt. The names were Cheryl and Ian – by the names on the handmade quilt – and many words of congratulations written into parts of the quilt. They were teachers, based on the information on the quilt and I have the name of their school, one a county away from my home. I was a librarian with a small child, named Ian – the same name of the groom. I bought the quilt for $5.00. The quilt was in almost mint condition. Over the years, “Cheryl and Ian’s” quilt became my son’s favorite quilt.
Many times, I wanted to go find this couple – to find out what happened. Did they divorce? Did they donate the quilt by accident? But I kept thinking: it ended up at the Goodwill – and there is a story there. My mind has taken off many times as I have washed the quilt or tucked the quilt around my sleeping son. The names of a few of the teachers who made the quilt for Cheryl and Ian were still at the school where they taught when I “checked” on the makers and good wishes of the quilt in 2007, but as the years passed, the quilt had fewer and fewer readable names. I did keep a record on the names, but I never got around to finding out the entire story. There was a reason: It became my Ian’s quilt.
But, in all honesty, there was another reason: I was going through my own divorce – and my heart couldn’t handle a sad story. I hate sad endings – and I didn’t want to know. I wanted to just think a quilt ended up at the Goodwill and a woman – or man’s sadness – was imaginary. But you can’t hide from the truth: the chances of Cheryl and Ian being together? Well, the real world works in sadness, not happy endings.
As time went on, I wanted to know – how were they? Were Cheryl and Ian happy? Were they still teachers? My son also would ask about them, “Mama, have you found them? Are they really divorced? What happened?” Sometimes, when we would see the names, I would pray for Cheryl and Ian….Because the quilt defined something to him as a child of divorce, especially with his own name on it: the couple had to have divorced. We began to pray for them because he said, at the age of ten, “Mom, maybe they are sad.” I hope our prayers helped them.
My Ian is now too tall to sleep underneath the quilt, but it remains on his bed. Nightly. Daily. Weekly. Monthly. Yearly. He loves this quilt as a symbol of his childhood of warmth and protection – and a nightly prayer for two people we never have met.
Someday, I might write a story about a quilt and a writer who seeks to find out the “what happened” of a wedding quilt being found in a thrift store. My heart is still not ready to find out the truth on how this beautiful quilt, made with love and blessed with good wishes, ended up in a Jonesboro, Georgia Goodwill.
But until then?
My son sleeps underneath it and it is his quilt.