Most people really don’t think about our veterans except on Memorial Weekend and Veterans Day. Those two months usually keep us running and this past May was no exception.
Some of you may not know that Delphia comes to the Shop on Monday and Tuesday of each week and Rick comes on Wednesday to run our computer Longarm, Abigail. They keep the quilts moving all week and make it so we can keep awarding quilts. Those two are getting pretty good on Abigail.
May 12: QOH was scheduled to go to the Linden Lyons Club to speak and present a quilt. My dad slipped and fell and split his wound open so off to the hospital we went. Barb and her daughter, Carol, filled in for me. They awarded a quilt to a Navy Seal and got us a large donation from the Club. Thank you to both of them for coming through. They got big blue ribbons.
May 13: My first adventure was speaking at the Sacramento Rotary. Becky, Rosemary and Gretchen, who do Quilts of Honor with us from the Sacramento area, were all present. They often work with Rotary as their husbands are members. Before I began to speak I decided to award a quilt so they could see what we do. I called the recipient up to the front and he was truly surprised. Charles is a Vietnam veteran who had never been thanked. The quilt was special as it had been made by his Aunt Becky and Aunt Rosemary. It was a pretty emotional moment for all and a long overdue thank you.
I gave my speech about Quilts of Honor and when I finish I always ask if there are any questions. This time a few questions were asked and then I sat down. A gentleman came to the front and said he had a question. He said, “You must come from a pretty good upbringing to do this.” I replied that I was raised in Dos Palos and Gustine, both small towns. He then said, “I bet you were teased a lot about a little fat boy you hung around with.” I said not that I can remember. Well, he didn’t give up. He kept repeating it and finally by this time I am getting frustrated so I blurt out, “do I know you?” He says, “I’m Billy Martin.” I still didn’t get it. Then he said, “I went to 3rd and 4th grade with you and had a crush on you.” Well, everyone in the place went crazy laughing. I must have been 10 shades of red. I did finally remember and what a shock. It was pretty cool – you never know who could come into your life again one day. Note: he isn’t fat anymore.
May 16: At the Calaveras County Fair, I had the honor of playing To the Colors as 75 plus veterans unfolded a 38 foot flag. I marched out into the horse arena with the Color Guard through the cow and horse pies. That was real interesting especially when I’m not as young as I used to be and these old legs ain’t what they used to be.
May 17: Quilts of Honor went to Niles, CA where they were having a Quilt and Garden Show. Flo, Debbie and I setup a booth and met Belle and Laura, our QOH family from that area. Belle’s daughter has a quilt shop there, “Color Me Quilts”, so Flo went shopping. We awarded one quilt to a Vietnam veteran in a wheelchair. He smiled so bit and later I was told he wouldn’t let anyone take it off his lap. It was cold and windy but we enjoyed the day. It would be a great day trip for quilters in central and northern California – two quilt shops and lots of antiques.
May 19: We were scheduled to go to Visalia to award quilts and speak. This time when I got up to speak, I asked if there was anyone from my home towns – tell me now. We awarded three quilts. Marilee and Dolores came to be a part of it as I was speaking to the Daughters of the American Revolution. We all three belong to the Turlock Chapter. It was a nice day.
We left there and went to Dinuba to see the small replica of the Vietnam Wall and to see if Johnnie’s name was on the Wall. Then we went to Reedley to a quilt shop then, it being a three hour drive, we started home with a quick trip to see my Aunt and Uncle, 88 yrs and 91 yrs, when I get a call from home that dad isn’t feeling good. One hour into the trip they took him to Emergency. I was lucky I didn’t get a ticket the rest of the way. I went straight to emergency where they had admitted dad.
May 23-24: Not Forgotten Event, Manteca, CA with the traveling Vietnam Veterans Wall.
There are so many stories. We worked two full days and were on our feet almost the whole two days awarding quilts. The first day we awarded 33 quilts; the second day 40 quilts. These quilts were all given spontaneously. We would see the veteran’s hat, walk up and talk to him to see if he or she qualified. When the one interviewing knew, they would signal and we would grab a quilt, walk up and present. So many tears as these were veterans coming to that Wall to see their friends and pay their respects. It was so emotional for so many as they never expected what we did but when we presented a quilt, many cried deeply. Some came back to see us on the second day. Carl took pictures of everyone that received a quilt and emailed them a picture of them receiving a quilt. We have gotten many heartfelt thank yous. I was so proud of all of our QOH workers. Everybody went the extra mile in the heat and wind. All of our quilts were stunning and were an honor to give. We made quite an impression on so many – not just the veteran but their family and friends were equally surprised and thankful.
It took us a few days to recover but we gave out a quilt on the 29th at the Shop to a Vietnam veteran. I ended the month by awarding a quilt to my good friend, Gene, who turned 80 years old. I surprised him and he just cried and said, “you don’t know what this means to me.”
We also shipped 3 quilts to Alaska where Marsha Borelli-Silva will award them for Quilts of Honor. So, I would say, yes – May was memorable.
Dad Belmont had a 4 hour surgery Sunday and we hope he will be on the mend. He has definitely kept us going.
To my second Mom in Gardnerville, NV – keep getting better. I love you and miss you and will see you soon.
God bless everyone for your prayers. God bless you all – you have done an awesome job for our veterans.