The Parade of Plaid

Frank and Janet

The whole thing with the plaid shirts started naturally a few days before the funeral from someone's idea to wear a plaid shirt at the funeral. The reason evolved from Ed VERY often sporting some kind of plaid, button-down shirt.

I have no idea who thought of it. I wish I did.

Someone called me and asked if they could borrow one of Ed’s shirts. When I asked why, they explained they needed one because some of the “Questers”, or people who were part of Quest Church, were wearing plaid shirts to the funeral. I don’t remember who it was, but they didn’t own a plaid shirt.

I said it was fine. I thought about it before the person arrived. I had no use for those shirts other than memories of Ed wearing them at certain times. Some of the shirts he wore more than others, some he grew out of and could no longer wear. Personally, I liked the red ones and the green ones. I thought they looked especially good on him. Reflecting on it, I realized he DID own a huge number of plaid shirts.

I couldn’t think of a more fitting gesture than to have people attend wearing Ed’s shirts. I thought it would be apropos for someone to wear one to the funeral.

Before I knew it several people decided to wear plaid, and then someone else asked me if they could have one of Ed's plaid shirts.

When the word spread that I was giving away his shirts many people started calling me and asking me for one. I decided to go through all the closets and pull out all his plaid shirts. I checked his dresser drawers, and I checked in a few boxes that held some clothes not yet unpacked.

I counted them and there were about 50 in different sizes! I folded them all neatly and stacked them according to size on my coffee table. (Due to Ed’s weight fluctuation, we had several different sizes from Medium up to XXL. And of course, being the pack rats that we were, he kept all the different sizes, no matter how old they were!)

When someone came over to pick out a shirt it was easy to find a good fit from the nicely sorted stacks of shirts on the coffee table.

I didn’t want to wholly part with the shirts yet, so I decided to freeze the moment in time and snap a picture of everyone who picked out a shirt.

At the funeral not everyone had one of his plaid shirts on, but many people did, myself and my kids included. His parents, his brother, and aunt and uncle wore one on as well. It was like we were all enveloped in a hug from Ed that day. “Ed” was everywhere.

I started posting the pictures on Facebook. I didn’t know if that is how people found out about the shirts, or if it was by some other way.

After the funeral some of our family and friends who couldn’t attend requested one of the plaid shirts. Anyone who didn't live close enough to pick one up, I mailed one to them. Ed’s plaid shirts traveled to Massachusetts, Arizona, New York, Michigan, and West Virginia. All I required was every recipient snap a picture wearing it and send it to me.

I posted each picture of people in Ed’s shirts in a Facebook album titled “Ed’s Parade of Plaid Shirts”. Later, I purchased a photo book with all the pictures and made one for Ed's parents and myself.

I gave away all his plaid shirts except for seven favorites I saved to make a quilt.

Those were special memories of all those people honoring Ed by wearing his shirts. It felt amazing to know so many people all over the country were remembering him.

The whole plaid shirt movement had prompted me to begin sorting through his stuff after he passed. I didn’t intend to start that early, and I did not mentally decide to start sorting, it just happened naturally. But I am glad I did.

A distant cousin in West Virginia, Melinda, messaged me and requested a shirt and a pair of Ed’s jeans. I thought it was strange that she would want jeans as well, but I decided to honor her request. I picked out a shirt for her, and then looked through Ed’s jeans for a pair. (She asked for a really, baggy pair…I assumed she wanted them for her husband. I never thought her husband looked that heavy, but who was I to judge?)

A month later I was pleasantly surprised when a package from West Virginia arrived. Inside was a Raggedy Ann and Andy made from my husband’s shirt and jeans! Such an adorable pair made in memory of Ed!

When I sent my cousin in Massachusetts, Darek, a shirt, the envelope arrived in the Northeast torn without the shirt inside. I decided to send Darek another one and parted with a black and white “OP” shirt from my personal “stash”. It was one that Ed wore during the period of time when he had lost a lot of weight. I really liked that shirt, but by the time I heard Darek’s shirt hadn’t arrived, I was out of extra shirts.

I have a picture of Darek wearing that shirt, and earlier this week I looked for a picture of Ed wearing the same one.

I found one.

It is a picture of my son, and my uncle—Darek’s dad—and Ed.

My son, Darek's dad, Ed

HONESTLY, I had NO idea when I decided to send my cousin that particular shirt, that Ed had worn it when we visited Darek’s dad more than a decade ago. And I cannot express the incredible hand of God feeling when I read Darek’s comment on the post of that picture from 2010, where Darek wrote, “Never saw this pic before! :-) Makes me smile!”

Yes, Darek, it makes me smile as well! So much more than I ever could have experienced if I had held tight to those plaid shirts!

Geri, my sister

Another one of my favorite of Ed’s shirts was white with red and green stripes in the plaid. I had many memories of Ed wearing that shirt and I was excited to recently find a picture of Ed in it on his Facebook page. Ed always looked good when he wore green and red, in my opinion 😊 My sister, Geri, picked that one and I have a picture of her wearing it.

The sweetest thing happened with that shirt two months after Ed passed away. My family gathered at my sister’s house in Michigan for Christmas. The box my sister gave me for Christmas brought tears to my eyes. In the box she had an adorable teddy bear she made from Ed’s shirt. That little guy sits on my desk. I look at it often and smile remembering Ed wearing that shirt.

There is no way I could have known what would happen when I made the decision to sort through and begin giving away Ed’s plaid shirts. The blessings for me, and hopefully for everyone who received one, was way more than I could have ever imagined!

To this day, I still have the plaid shirt I wore at his funeral. And from that multitude of plaid shirts, I reduced the pile down to approximately seven shirts, most of which I will sew into a quilt to keep me warm. I don’t know who suggested the “Questers” wear plaid shirts, but I would love to know. I would love to thank them and thank everyone who honored Ed by wearing his “colors” that day.


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