Memories are Made of This

Yes! This is me at my Senior Prom!

I wanted to take the time to share this very special picture.

One reason I’m excited about sharing this picture is that mainly, from a personal perspective, this picture puts me in proximity to a past I thought was long-gone.

Thanks to getting in touch with my old High School mates from Bishop Alemany High School, Class of ’66 on a Facebook group, I was able to get my hands on this, the only visual and tangible reminder I have of my high school days.

Shortly after my graduation, as I settled in my new life in Florida with my first husband, a flood consumed every single high school keepsake I kept in a trunk: yearbooks, letters, photos, mementos, and of course, this prom photo. This was a terrible loss, if nothing else because the year I spent at Alemany was one of the most positive, memorable, and mind-expanding moments of my young life. For the first time I felt, that year, that possibilities existed beyond the somewhat grim, mundane, and limiting circumstances of my earlier school experiences. I also became exposed to a people, a place, and a way of life that would years later, unbeknownst to me, become part of my adult life. The loss therefore, took on a very symbolic meaning, and left a big hole in my life, one that has yet to be filled. Sure, many other meaningful and life-changing events and memories have come to enrich my life since then, and I have he mementos to prove it, but those younger years’ memories only exist in my mind.

I feel blessed, then, to have found a group of fellow travelers from 1966 who have kept some of the memorabilia – I recently received some yearbook photos as well! Maybe when I attend my upcoming 50th Class Reunion I might be able to get my hands on some other such mementos.

The tie-in with quilts is rather obvious: memories and artifacts are incredibly important to helping us maintain a tie to our roots, our past, our legacy. Most people who suffer the tragedy of fire and flood can attest to the disorienting sadness that results from losing these things that tie us to others, to our past, and to our own identities. The digital age has allowed us to virtually preserve photos and documents (as long as technology allows us to access those files now or in the future), but nothing beats something tangible.

As a quilter I have of course managed to work on many projects, both personal and for commission, that can attest to this fact.

The most recent one is the one that has consumed me for months, and which I have blogged about already (and about which I’ll probably blog again):

commission: quilt made out of client’s husband ties

This is another great example of a commemorative quilt that hangs in my bedroom:

photos from my kids’ weddings
photos of my kids and husband from the 80s and 90s
several photos from memorable family occasions

This is a photo-transfer quilt, quite large in size, that my son and daughter-in-law put together and presented to me for Christmas one year. My son helped with the photo transfer method, and my daughter-in-law, whom I’d recently taught how to quilt, did the rest. This quilt was such a precious gift, not just because it was so beautiful, but because of the fact that it contains photos of my family life spanning many decades, as well as for the love that was put into its creation.

This quilt is living proof that quilts are wonderful memory preserving objects; not only do quilts carry within the energy and love of the person (or persons) who work on them, but are also tangible representations of the people, places, and moments that are important to us, carefully and lovingly stitched together.

Had I had the foresight and the skill back then to transfer those important moments of my life into a quilt, I might still have those memories available to me in tangible form–a quilt would certainly have survived a flood, albeit with some mold or a few tears, but still salvageable.

As it stands, all I have now of my past high school life is that one photo.

If I ever receive more artifacts from that era, perhaps I might choose to put them all in a quilt, starting with that one photo, of course.

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