Way back in the early 70's I met a young man, his name was "Jack" anyway that is what he was called, his name was "Jonathan", but we all called him "Jack". I met him as a fellow hotline worker at "Reachout, the Solon, Drug Abuse Center". Jack was 17 and when there were no calls we chatted and became friends. He had an unfortunate relationship with a much older woman who thought nothing of seducing a young man half her age then dumping him. His home life at the time wasn't that happy, at least that's the impression he gave. One day we went skiing in Brandywine, an area outside of Cleveland, Ohio. We braved the lift and got stuck right under the snow making machine, we froze our asses off. After that adventure we went to eat pizza. He looked around and with a frown said "what will we do if people think you're my girlfriend?" I laughed and told him that they'd view me as his mother, I loved Jack like a mother and like the son I never had. He said "then why don't you adopt me" and I said okay, ever since I thought of him as my "unofficially adopted son".
Before long he joined the Service, he would write an occasional letter from Korea, it was always full of adventures and I would often caution him to be careful. He got out of the Service, and married a lovely woman, had three kids and now and then he would call and we'd chat. During that time I got an occasional letter and some photographs of him and one or two of his kids.
One day I came home from grocery shopping and my husband told me "Jack called, he said he loves you", he was on his way to Desert Shield. I was devastated that I didn't get to talk with him and started sitting in front of the TV, almost 24/7 watching war news and working on a twin quilt, I ran out of material and simply added other material whether it looked good or not. Before I received the news I had made a larger than King size quilt. I put it in an old trunk and forget about it, simply couldn't face it.
Time went by and my husband and I were on the way to Knoxville,TN. We weren't on the plane long when he gave me the Cleveland newspaper, on the front page was a blond, windblown woman in a bright red coat, sitting at a graveside in Arlington National Cemetery. It was Jack's widow and his children. It was February 1991 and I sat on the plane crying.
I called his wife and she told me she had tried to get hold of me and failed. I was devastated, the boy I loved most was shot down in his Cobra Gunship near the Kuwait border on the day Desert Shield became Desert Storm. My husband and I spent quite a bit of time in Washington DC and each time we were there I'd walk from the Marriott hotel downtown to Arlington National Cemetery, carrying flowers. I usually started crying at the florist and continued to Arlington. During one of those trips checking in two men approached me and asked where I got the flowers, "downtown" I said and when they asked for a couple I gave them three. It was a long way to the grave. The men passed me and offered me a ride and I told them I HAD to walk.
Another time when I was in DC I took three women along, we were at the same conference with our husbands, I poured a beer out and tried not to cry.
Once I took a Christmas tree and left it there. Time went by again and I haven't been back there again, there simply were no more conferences my husband had to attend. To this day when I think of Jack I start to cry, his children are grown, and I hope his wife re-married, we lost touch.
Recently I opened the trunk looking for something and found the quilt. The mother of a friend offered to take it with her to Nebraska and have a woman finish it. She wasn't sure if there was a machine big enough or if some part would have to be cut away. It was suggested that we make it into two twin quilts, but somehow I can't see that.
I tried to contact Jacks son via Facebook so I could offer it to him, I never got a reply. When the quilt comes back I'll simply put it back in the trunk along with my memories of Jack.