CENTENNIAL - It has been a rare time out of the water for Missy Franklin. She's had a break from training after coming home from the World Championships with 6 gold medals, something no woman had ever done before.
That time off, Missy says, is just what she's needed before she moves to California for college. However, before the big move she got a touching surprise that brought the last 18 years back.
There is a rhythm to life. Time brings stops and starts as trials and joys weave who we become.
Helen Lenda compiled markers of time in a way few others do. She turned a garbage bag of T-shirts into a quilt for Missy, a canvas that shares a life journey.
"This is going to be an absolutely fantastic quilt for Missy. It's going to be a surprise," Missy Franklin's Mom, D.A., said.
D.A. looked at the pieces pinned together on the wall. She thought back on the tempo of the last 18 years, with the kind of detail only a parent can conjure. She spotted a piece of blue fabric.
"Oh, it is Missy's baby blanket," she said, touching it gently. "I really wanted this to be part of it."
Down the line of perfectly symmetrical quilt squares are memory after memory.
"Here is her Gators shirt. She started the neighborhood swim team when she was 5 years old," D.A. said.
Then there was the Olympic trials T-shirt from when Missy was 13 years old. D.A. saved every T-shirt and the stored each story that went along with it.
"This one is from Dick," she said, pointing to a Harley Davidson shirt. "Missy and her dad would go for rides. To this day, I don't let them leave the neighborhood."
Over the years, Missy's cadence in the pool continued to bring unmatched success. She earned four Olympic Gold medals and a bronze at the Summer Olympics in London. She won six gold medals at the World Championships in Barcelona this summer. It was something no other woman had accomplished before her.
As her fame grew, so did the times she spent at places like Children's Hospital Colorado. It has been important to the young woman. She is always looking to give back.
"Coming here is one of my favorite things to do. These children are beautiful. They are so inspiring," Missy said.
Missy headed to a stage set up in the hospital lobby to answer questions from patients, staff and parents. They say her time there has always been a gift. She had no idea that this time, the kids had planned a gift for Missy.
They presented big bag to the surprised Olympian. "Oh wow! Oh my gosh!" Missy gasped. It was the quilt.
"I saw her eyes light up when she started to recognize it and realized it was her T-shirts from over the years," D.A. said.
Missy ran over and gave her mom a hug.
"This is incredible, lots of memories there," Missy said. D.A. Franklin blinked back tears.
The Children's Hospital Colorado says the quilt is its way of thanking Missy for everything she's done for the kids over the years.
The back of the quilt shows gold drawings of gold medals that patients designed themselves. She noticed every detail.
"We listened to Mama" is embroidered on that square.
The newest shirt on the quilt is the only one showing the swimming sensation's future, a college T-shirt from the University of California-Berkeley. She will compete with the Bears this season.
But you won't find the sentimental quilt in Missy's dorm room. Her mom said she is not taking it to college.
"When she is done with college and she has a place and a proper place to put it, where people aren't going to sit on it and not have dirty shoes on it, then she can have it," D. A. said.
Missy stretched out the quilt to get a closer look.
"I can't even express how much this means to me. It is my life in a blanket," she said.
Life has a rhythm, bringing with it measures of time you could never predict. Yet it carries a certainty too: it continues on. It is ever changing.
That is apparent this weekend as Missy moves into her dorm room and begins another chapter of life.
(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)