For this door's inspiration picture, click here.
The first day of college I met my future husband, Paul. Little did I know that that adolescent manchild would someday sweep me off my feet. On the same day, I also met Travis. Paul and Travis and I were to spend the next several years being a Three Amigos of sorts, until finally Travis himself found a wonderful girl to sweep off her feet, Stephanie. (I'm not sure which Amigo I choose to be likened to, maybe Martin Short's Ned, but only because he was the slightly anal clipboard lady who always kept the party moving.)
But back to Travis. He was raised on a dairy farm just outside Boise, Idaho. Both Paul and I grew up in cities, where milk came in cartons from the grocery store, so spending holidays and vacations on the family farm was a real novelty for us. The first thing we learned however, is that farming is no novelty. Travis and all of his family, after a certain very young age, would rise before the sun to herd a large troupe of cattle into the milking house, get them all drained, only to do it again in the evening. No vacations. No time off. Then there were the grain fields to supplement the cattle's feed, and repairing of equipment for planting and harvest, storage of that grain (did you know it can catch on fire?), and maintaining everyone's health and calving. Farmers truly do feed America.
I remember on my first trip I was being given the grand tour, trailed all the while by the quintessential farm dogs, when we walked by a pen with new calves in it. One of them laid on its side and I commented that it looked dead. I was given some off-hand comment about being a city girl and we moved on. That night at the long farmhouse dinner table, his father, the farming-in-his-blood, keeps-to-himself head of the house, instructed Travis' younger brother during a lull in conversation to go find the calf that he noticed had died and pull her out of the pen with the others. Travis and I burst out laughing.
This farming family knew how to work. And they knew how to make guests family. And they know how to love. When Paul and I were married and in our first home, Travis' younger sister, Tracy, in her first year of college, stopped by on her way out of town. She and a friend had a four-hour drive back to Idaho and wanted to catch up with us. Tracy was an incredibly enthusiastic light who made everyone in the room better for being there when she was. The next day I flew to Portland to visit my own family, when Paul called to tell me that Tracy had died in a tragic car accident on the way home that night.
To say we were all crushed is an understatement. The outpouring of grief and love from their entire community and beyond, and even over a decade later, to me, stands as the biggest testament of the love and service and kindness of this family. Several things have been done in Tracy's memory over the years, and tonight I will add another small piece.
This Barn Door is for Tracy Edwards. The beautiful farm girl, all of our little sister, who will always be young and always in our hearts. Quilts can wrap around us and comfort us and keep us warm. But sometimes while the quilt is being made, we stitch memories in them to help us remember those we love, and some who we have to wait a lifetime to see again.