Friday, September 2, 2011

Mark's Quilts....

I want you to meet Officer Mark Vasquez of the Manhattan Beach, California police force.

By the time he was done with them, people used to thank Mark for giving them tickets. Really!  He conveyed his genuine interest in peoples' safety, and he was funny.  Who could resist that smile?

...and here is his family...

This is my favorite picture of the Vasquez family: Mark, his wife Lee, and daughters Madison and Ashley.  It captures their spirit!
Mark and Lee fell in love in high school; I think Lee was 15 and Mark was 16.  Because Lee is my "niece-in-law" (my brother-in-law and sister-in-law's daughter), over the years I've watched Mark and Lee go through college--each on atheletic scholarships--get married, and have their children together.  Their love has been a joy to the whole family, and to everyone who has known them.



Always, Mark was upbeat, energetic, full of strength.  So when he was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma (a cancer of the blood) four years ago, he took it on like the Superman he was.  He underwent arduous treatments, raised money for research for a cure, continued to work as long as he could, and even served as his daughter's softball coach this spring before his body could no longer tolerate treatment and he died. 

At his funeral, the Chief of the Manhattan Beach Police told the hundreds of us gathered that Mark in his six years of service on the force touched more people than he himself had in thirty years as a police officer.  Knowing Mark, we all knew this humble police chief had spoken the truth.

So you can imagine what an honor it is for me to be making memorial quilts for Lee, Madison, Ashley, Manny--Mark's dad--and Don, Lee's dad.  I've been working with Mark's extensive t-shirt collection and some of his other garments, with the goal of creating each of them a cozy blanket to wrap up in, full of Mark's energy and memories.

Here are some of the tshirts...it gives you a little insight into the life of a committed policeman....





Mark trained hard, had fun, and on the serious side, he definitely took care of business.

I used my rotary cutter to trim out the shirts.


....until I had a pile of the graphics.

Because Lee has continually thought of these quilts as "blankets", I decided to make them as cozy as I could. I am appliquing the tshirt graphics onto thick polar fleece, then will machine quilt them.  Technically, this makes the most sense to me too, rather than trying to interface and then piece all those knits, and then layer them with batting and backing.

So I've started on Manny's blanket first (Lee sent me five boxes of shirts and other garments of Mark's, specifically chosen for each person)....

I laid out the main elements first directly onto the polar fleece, and then filled in the horizontal and verticle spaces with fabrics from other garments, pinning everything into place.

The next step is to hand baste everything down.

Then I will machine applique over the basting, and then machine quilt overall.  A binding will finish the blanket.

I've been thinking a lot about Manny (shown here) and Mark, of course, as I work....about fathers, and how great they are.

I did suffer an accident, unrelated, in the last week...burned my left thumb quite badly making jam!  So my work on this project has been slowed down considerably for the moment.  But it is what will be going on here for the next several weeks.  It is good work, and I am so happy to be doing it.

















21 comments:

Karen T said...

Mark sounds like a wonderful man...how lucky you all were to know him. The blankets look to be great and what a fantastic memory for those who will receive them.

Margaret said...

So sorry, Allie. God bless you for being their to comfort your niece and family at this tough time. He sounds like a great guy. May sweet memories bring comfort and ease sorrow in the days, weeks, months and years ahead.

Hugs!

Marty52 said...

What an awesome idea... they will forever be wrapped in the warmth of his love. Great post Allie, thanks for telling us about him.

P.S. Take care of that thumb!

Magpie's Mumblings said...

How very sad, and yet how very special these blankets will be.

Vicki W said...

I've made 3 memorial quilts in my life so far. I find them to be very difficult to do but they are, without question, the most rewarding projects I've ever done.

ARLENE said...

What a wonderful thing you are doing. Mark's eyes tell the whole story--there was kindness, humor, love, and strength. May God bless his family.

Judy S. said...

These will be cherished quilts, Allie, and quite fitting to memorialize an outstanding person. Thanks for sharing his story, and blessings on you and his whole family.

Rian said...

How sad...how very, very sad. I guess the saying is true--the good die young. I am sure you will do his memory proud with your memorial quilt. And may you (and his family of super-heroes) find comfort and healing from it.

Debra Spincic said...

You are a kind soul to take on such a big project but I know you will do it with love. Blessings on you and the quiltblankets.

Suzanne said...

What a wonderful gift you are doing for this sweet family. I grew up in Manhattan Beach and was at the Fair last October..they were having some kind of fundraiser for him...small world.

Cathy K said...

Mark sounds like the type of person we all would like to know, and even get a ticket from. :-) So sorry to hear about his death, but how comforting it must be to his family to know you are helping to preserve part of Mark in such a cuddly way! They will certainly treasure the “blankets” you are stitching with love.

Take care of your burn. So far I have escaped injury in “putting up” our garden this year. But there are still more tomatoes, and peaches… (((Big Hugs)))

Elizabeth said...

Oh Allie How bittersweet is this project!!!! What an amazing man , father and husband and how they will all treasure these blankets that you are creating so lovingly!!! What an incredible gift you are giving the whole family!!!!

A big hug to you and your poor sore thumb!!!! I hope the jam turned out well!! Been there Done that!!! OUCH!!!!

Summerset said...

Wow. How sad, but how wonderful of you to create a lasting memory of his things.

Kerri Murphy said...

I cried as I read this. So very sad. Why do good people have to go through this? I am sorry for your family's loss. Very sorry.
My Husband was just diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in July that has gone to his brain and tailbone. It has been so tough and sad and scary. We have been together since I was 17 and he was 19. High school sweethearts. We have been married since 1978. I pray we beat this!

Susan Elliott said...

Oh Allie. What a gift you are to the world. Thanks for telling us about Mark and his life and his family. I know if I were Lee or one his family members, I would completely cherish your quilt...what a love you are to hold them all in your hands and comfort them with their father's/son's/husband's love. It's beyond beautiful.

Jean said...

So sorry for your family's loss. You are doing a work of love as we can all see. Sometimes this is exactly what we need to keep us busy and dwell on the "good/positive memories" instead of the loss.
We lost our dog a couple weeks back, and although she was a member of the family... it's not anywhere near the same at all as losing a head of the family. My prayers will include your family.
Your thoughtfulness will be enjoyed longer than you know.
Take care of yourself too... I hope that your thumb heals quickly. Sorry to hear that you burned yourself... be careful!
Hugs....

Barbara C said...

What a tragic loss for your family, but these quilts will be a comfort to those closest to Mark. You're so good at making these memorial quilts, I'm sure you realize it's a very special calling.

JoWynn Johns said...

What a marvelous project, Allie. Brilliant idea, that will bring comfort in several ways.

Conni said...

These quilts will be such a beautiful and creative tribute to Mark...

Serenity Springs Labradoodles said...

Hi Sounds like a great Ideal, I am Mark's mom Jo Ubina-Smith. He was a great person, Loved deeply and will be missed by all. I will always carry him in my heart.

mvas45@pacbell.net said...

THANK YOUR ALLIE.
THIS IS TRULY A TREASURE.
MANNY VASQUEZ