Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Patriotic Quilting: Remembrance, Healing, and Comfort



Patriotic  Quilts carry such meaning, a form of innate healing through caring, and a special comfort all of their own. And as such, they never fail to provide me with memories that I carry with me... and cherish in the giving...forever.

I started my last patriotic quilt last summer... expecting to finish it and have it sent off by Christmas. When my care taking visit to my parents' home on Douglas Island, Alaska grew from one month to four...all expectations and priorities changed, as well.

So, I am delighted to finally have it finished, mailed and received. When I finally returned to Oregon, I only had to finish up the final binding, make my own label and create the added gift of the home printed photo album shown here.

The quilt headed south to Central Point, Oregon and an assisted living center where my last surviving uncle is now living. In just 3 years, this dear man has lost his home, almost all of his possessions and faced the death of his wife. In 2007, he was diagnosed with a form of dementia...the umbrella terminology for the memory loss and behavioral changes disorder that also encompasses Alzheimer's.

Somehow, I have managed to maintain contact with him, once a very dear and even brilliant man.....by phone and by mail..whether in Oregon or in Alaska...and gone past and through the memory loss challenges. His nursing homes have all been involved in the tremendous upheaval of lost mortgages and closures here in Oregon...so in three years, he has already move to his third nursing home.

In less than 2 years, all of his life savings were gone, including monies from the sale of his home and he was faced with surviving on the basics of Medicare/Medicaid. With skyrocketing costs for nursing home care (his previous one cost almost $4,000/month) our senior loved ones end up being forced into 'Medicaid' approved (meaning low cost of $2,500/month) and finding good homes in this range is a challenge. They say if we live long enough, most of us will face memory loss, 50% of us Alzheimer's or related dementia's and usually by the age of 85...something is apparent to others and we need assistance of one kind or another. So, it is a cause that strikes close to my own heart. (AAQI: From the Heart of a Quilter)

My dear uncle not only received my quilt...which I have called a' healing quilt' as my uncle is a strong man of Christian faith who nevertheless needs spirited filled encouraging for not only his emotional wounds from this lifetime...but from the tragedies of WWII.

Having the highest IQ ever tested in the Army at that time, he also had perfect memory recall...or what we call a 'photographic' memory. So, the pains and losses were never forgotten and developed into a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that I'm sure preceded the dementia he suffers from now.

So, I made him a Patriotic comfort quilt filled with my love and my prayers. As seen here, I also made one of my photo albums that I send down to him at least once a year. This one included photos of me and the quilt...to help him remember who it was from, and another dozen pages of my family, my extended family...my mother, father, brothers, and all my nieces and nephews....photos of all of us together during the Christmas holidays.

I know from past gifts how much he treasures these books I make and send, and to know that now he is thankfully and gratefully wrapped in 'his bed cover' makes me even happier....

5 comments:

  1. I have lost many family members to dementia and currently care for a woman bedridden due to it during the week. Your post was very inspiring. I love Healing Quilts- I am in the process of making one for my grandmother who just lost her husband of 61 years in January.
    She has Alzh.. so I want her to have something of him.
    Very beautiful sentiment

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  2. I love this, what a touching and poignant post. I'm sure the quilt and scrapbook will mean more than you, or anyone, can ever even begin to understand... it will be cherished.

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  3. I know how it feels to lose a family member to Alzheimer. You see I work as a med tech in a ass.living facility have worked there for 10yrs. already and I see it all the time and every time we lose a resident we lose a family member cause they are our family also, we spend so much time with them and care for them to help in the passing. We the caregivers/family and friends need so much help also, we must help to get rid of this disease.

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  4. What a wonderful gift - beautiful and uplifting. I am sure it will be cherished.

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  5. I'm sure this will mean a lot to him. When my Mom had a mild stroke she went into a Rehab home. I made a pink and green quilt with a matching quilted bedjacket for her. It helped her find her room and her bed. The first time I came to visit she told me one of her daughters had made it for her...

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Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.