Next week on the eve of the election I will be turning 60! 60 years in the making of who I am today. When I was young, 60 seemed old. My paternal grandparents the Rev. Herbert Levihn and his wife Concordia both died of heart attacks in June 1962 at 61 and 69. What a shock that was for this five year old.
So what do I have to look forward to at 60? The first thing I plan to do is go to the FWCS building downtown and sign up for my Super Senior Card. The card will allow me free admission to all regular season home athletic events at FWCS, free admission to all regular fine arts performances at FWCS $5 off any one Neighborhood Connection class/course per semester and a 10% discount on the regular fee for any class offered through the FWCS Continuing Education Department. So I can watch football and basketball games, concerts and drama productions for FREE! If you want to obtain one, you don’t have to apply in person. Go to: fortwayneschools.org/files/public_affairs/SupSenBrochure.pdf and sign up by mail.
Couple the Super Senior Card with the 20% off Tuesdays for seniors at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop and I’m in hog heaven!
Turning 60, my thoughts turn back to 20 years ago when I was turning 40. At the time I didn’t want a 40th birthday party with gag gifts like “gut be gone” or “gray be gone” etc. I wanted my 40th to reflect a celebration of all those I hold dear and my passion for quilting. So I sent out invitations a few weeks prior to my birthday inviting everyone to the longest 40th birthday party ever. The invitation instructs family and friends to send me a piece of 12½“ square fabric that depicts our relationship. People who participate would then be invited to the family lake cottage in North Webster where we would celebrate my birthday in early August and unveil the completed quilt.
I create an elongated rectangular pattern piece I call the brick of life. Three months later I have enough to begin laying it out. Bricks and accompanying small purple diamonds are cut and need to be placed in rows. Seven-year-old son Robert spies a fabric with fish and positions it next to cat fabric knowing the cats will enjoy watching the fish. Some fabric squares arrive late and adjustments need to be made to accommodate them bringing the total to 117 making for a 9 x 13 row quilt top.
The hand quilting begins in earnest and continues up until August 4th the day of the big potluck celebration at the lake. The binding isn’t done so I cut the excess batting and backing to about 2 inches of the top. I fold it over and baste it to the front creating a temporary binding. I leave my thread and needle intact.
People start arriving along with Father Edward Erpelding the priest from St. Martin de Porres Roman Catholic Church. The quilt is unveiled and Father reads from scripture and blesses the quilt and all in attendance. I point out the needle and dangling thread as a symbol of the unfinished business we all have in our lives. I relate some of the stories behind some of the bricks: Tami the school bus fabric as we met while riding the PTC bus back and forth from IPFW, the tree branch fabric for Vanilla the cat who likes to escape and climb trees and Marcia’s pilgrim woman fabric as her birthday often falls on Thanksgiving. The brick of life pattern is also symbolic as everyone is asked to write their names and birth year on the back behind their piece. As people have died over the past twenty years, I ask a relative if possible to add their death year to close out their time on earth.
Looking at the quilt now I’m glad so many relatives and friends took the time to be a part of that special birthday. It reminds me of how many people I’ve lost over the last 20 years. Now I am so busy restoring other people’s quilts, I don’t have the time to make one to mark 60 so I take delight in bringing quilts precious to others back to life for them.
Lois Levihn is the owner of Born Again Quilts restoration studio and textile retailer located at 4005 South Wayne Avenue. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org