When I created my blog in May 2012, one of my very first posts was about an Ocean Waves quilt my father gave me in the 1980s when I first became interested in quilting. Here’s a close-up of the quilt:

To give you an idea of scale, the squares made of Half Square Triangles finish at 2″ and the bubblegum pink print in the center finishes at about 5½” square.

The quilt was made sometime in the late 1920s by Magdalena “Lena” Weissenfluh, my father’s Swiss-born grandmother. My dad, born in 1923, contributed to the making of this quilt. His job was to pull scraps of wrinkled fabric from the rag bag and iron them so his grandmother could cut triangles and sew them together on a treadle sewing machine.

The quilt was quilted by hand on a frame lowered from the ceiling of Grandmother Lena’s home in eastern Oregon. My dad described the frame and the quilting process in great detail in an email message to me, parts of which were included in this 2012 post entitled “Nattering ladies with needle and thread . . .”

My father, Calvin Eston Weissenfluh, died last week at the age of 95. He had fallen at his home in Bend, Oregon the week before and was in the hospital. My siblings and I rushed to his side, expecting he would be released to a rehabilitation center. Instead he entered hospice care. It was his time and he was ready. His last week was spent in the comfort of his own home surrounded by three generations of family members and his wife of 59 years, my dear stepmother Shirley.

The last week was a time of great sadness because we knew the end was coming but it was also a time of joy as we got to celebrate his long life with him. My father was clear-headed up to the end, telling stories, giving orders, engaging in some good-natured joshing with his son and grandsons, and enjoying one-on-one time with family members. The night before he died he asked for — and got — a sip of whiskey, enjoying a virtual toast over the phone with his son-in-law in Georgia.

My father served in the US Marine Corps during World War II. Here’s a picture of him in uniform at the age of 23 alongside a photo of him taken seven decades later:

What a handsome fellow he was!

During my dad’s last week I was charged with drafting his obituary, which he read and approved. He made one correction and asked me to add one sentence that appears at the end of the following paragraph:

“Cal’s ancestors on his father’s side emigrated from Switzerland in 1880, settling in eastern Kansas before moving to eastern Oregon. A chance encounter with a Swiss tourist visiting Oregon in 1950 led to Cal’s discovery of Weissenfluh relatives in Guttannen, Switzerland. He made two trips to Switzerland to visit them and maintained close contact with his Swiss relatives for the remainder of his life. He was always very proud of his Swiss ancestry.”

My father gave me two things before he died. The first is a replica of the Swiss flag that he brought home from his first trip to Switzerland:

I’ve always loved the simplicity and strong graphic appeal of the white cross on a red background. Now I am thinking about how to include this 22″ square flag in a tribute quilt.

The second is a leather bow tie embellished with beading that was given to him in 1980 by a member of the Klamath Tribe in southern Oregon:

My dad loved that tie and wore it at our last Weissenfluh Family Reunion held in 2017:

I will wear it to the next reunion in his honor.

RIP, Pater.




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21 Responses to Transitions

  1. Karlee A Sandell says:

    Dawn, I’m so sorry for your loss, all the best to you and your family. Karlee

  2. Janna Curtis says:

    So sorry to hear of your loss. Knowing you, I can only imagine he was a creative and hardworking individual.

    Hugs and prayers!

  3. Vickie Rooks says:

    Dear friend, beautifully written.

  4. Lisa D’Andrea says:

    Beautiful post and tribute, Dawn. My heart goes out to you and your family in condolence. Your Dad was a truly remarkable man, in a league of his own.

  5. Diane says:

    Nubs, what a perfect telling of our final days with Daddy. He would be so proud and touched by your skilled pen! He did anoint you as the heir apparent family historian. None of us could do it justice like you will.

  6. Claudine Wildman says:

    Dawn – the loss of a parent is so difficult. My heart goes out to you. Claudine

  7. Jan Bach says:

    Dawn, sending my heartfelt condolences to you and your family over the loss of your father. You’ve written a very loving tribute and I enjoyed learning about the quilt your father gave you. What a treasure!
    ~ Jan Bach

  8. Claudia McCarter says:

    Such beautiful thoughts of your Dad. What a peaceful and special passing. Something we can only hope for.
    Love and sympathy,

  9. Condolences to you and your family. You are a great keeper of the family quilt and its story.

  10. Joni Wright says:

    Blessings to you and your family. Such a lovely tribute of heritage, grace and family.

  11. Arrowhead Gramma says:

    Thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this time.

  12. Jo Ann Janes says:

    Dawn, what a loving tribute to your Father. You can just tell he was a great father and grandfather. My love and prayers are extended to you and your family.
    Jo Ann janes

  13. anna says:

    Oh Dawn, this left me with a tear in my eye, and a quiet smile on my face. What a loving and wonderful passing your father had, surrounded by his family. You paint a lovely visual picture of family surrounding your father as he passes peacefully away. And what a blessing for all of you to have had him for so long! I love your description of him and snippets from his life. You greatly resemble him in his youth. The eyes! My father was a Marine, WWI and WWII. He loved the Marine Corps, and believed that it played a role in who he became as an adult. Semper Fi. The quilt and bow tie are certainly a treasure. I wonder what Antiques Road Show would have to say about these items? They seem to become more valuable with a personal connection. It is so difficult to lose a parent. I send from both of us our deepest condolences and love.

  14. Arden Shelton says:

    Dawn: I’m so sorry for your loss. I totally agree with Anna’s message. Such a sweet note about your Dad. I lost my Dad at age 86 and he was ready to go. But I still miss him….I also have a family Ocean Waves I’ll bring and show you….

  15. Sandy Vick says:

    Dawn, What a beautiful post and tribute to your dad. I wish I had the pleasure of meeting him. He sounds like a very special man. And…by the way, a very handsome man. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post with us. It is so special! It is easy to see why you are such a special person.

  16. Deborah says:

    Dawn, what a wonderful tribute to your dad, and yes, he was very handsome!

  17. Dawn DeLong says:

    Dawn – thank you for giving us a glimpse of your dad and your family. I am so grateful that you shared your experience and that your family was able to be together with him in his home at this time of life. Your post was such a beautiful description of love in action. Sincere condolences to you and your family.

  18. Diana Stack Roberts says:

    Sorry for your loss. It sounds like he was a wonderful man.

  19. Kristi says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Please accept my deepest condolences. Your tribute to your father was very touching; you have a lifetime of wonderful memories and two special gifts by which to remember him.

  20. Colleen says:

    What a wonderful tribute to your father, Dawn. It sounds like he lived his life well. I’m so glad that he was surrounded by his family to the end. Such a blessing that you all could be there.

    You are all in my thoughts and prayers!

  21. Denise Littlefield says:

    Dear Dawn,
    I was sad to hear of your father’s departure.
    You were blessed to have him for a long time with good health and mind. Along with happiness of memorable good times.
    I pray that those loving memories will keep you and your family in good spirit.
    God bless you and your family.
    Denise Littlefield

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