At the end of January my Dad became suddenly critically ill with a list of serious problems as long as my arm. While I anxiously waited for my last-minute transatlantic flight to leave to go over and visit, I needed something to keep my hands busy, so I decided to make him a teeshirt.
I had recently bought some cotton jersey from Girl Charlee UK (who’ve since closed down) in his favourite shade of “Penn State blue” and I used this in conjunction with the Men’s teeshirt from the Great British Sewing Bee Fashion with Fabric book, size Medium. (Coincidentally, I actually made the “perfect” modelled in the book!)
My mom said he always prefers to have two chest pockets on his teeshirts, so that’s what I added here (this is why we sew, right??)
I knew I couldn’t just leave the teeshirt as-is, so I made a design in white heat set vinyl, cut on my Silhouette machine (dragged out of storage for the first time in a year especially!).
When he lived in Pennsylvania, our house was near the Appalachian Trail and one year he wrote a book compiling all sorts of trail stories, which earned him the honourary Trail Name of “Sedentary Steve”!
And on the back, well, he was always the absolute BEST at buying cards for each person and one year he bought me a birthday card with a badge attached that read “I’ve survived damned near everything!” and I’ve taken that on as a badge of honour. Considering that in the past year he’d survived multiple strokes, a severe C Dificil infection, multiple organ failure, and I could literally list on a lot more, I felt that he also deserved to wear this statement with pride. And he did.
I kept this post half-written after I returned home in February, waiting for a photo of him wearing it to finish off the post. But it was never meant to be. He returned home for a few months and my mom said he wore the shirt often, but she never quite got to take a photo of him wearing it.
He declined rapidly again at the end of May, however, and for the fourth time in a year we were told by Doctors that he wouldn’t make it through the night. This time it was impossible for me to fly over due to restrictions around the pandemic and my own health risk, even though my Dad consistently tested negative for Covid-19.
He eventually passed away over two weeks after a hospital doctor said he had “a few days” left, and four days after a hospice nurse said he had “48 hours, max” left. He was an incredible character, stubborn to the end, and fully aware of everything around him even though he struggled to speak for the past few weeks. He still smiled every time I video-called and was still able to laugh at all our funny stories and dirty jokes, and, even though it was a struggle, tell me he loved me.
The day my mom called to say he had died, I had just finished sewing a project and knew what I had to do to honour him in my own way. I pulled the scant metre of fabric leftover from his teeshirt, and cut myself another MadeIt Patterns Rest Vest (more on this in another post very soon – sorry, I’m posting out of order here).
I sewed it up in an hour or two, then added a custom memorial on my Silhouette machine using the same white heat set vinyl to add to the inside, as a private memorial just for me.
“His name was Steve but I called him Dad”
I miss you already, Dad.