Monday, November 14, 2011

Sometimes life is hard

My 91 year old Mom, who decided last April that she wanted to move to the nursing home and had picked it herself, is really going downhill in the last few weeks.  She thinks she's in Traverse City, MI most of the time, and is upset that someone took some of her furniture and moved it to this room she's in now.  Her short term memory is just about gone now.  It got me thinking back to when she was 75.  She and Pop were on the way to a dance when she started feeling horrid.  Pop had to stop the car so she could upchuck.  Instead of the dance, Pop drove her to the ER, where they determined that she was having a heart attack.  Within a day or two, she was in the operating room, having a quadruple bypass.  I will never forget the surgeon coming out after the surgery to tell us it was going to be a while before we would know if she would make it.  He said that she had the tissues of a 90 year old, and that it was a race throughout the surgery to get a stitch taken before the previous stitch pulled through the fragile vein/artery walls.  He also said she had the worst lungs he had ever seen--mostly big air spaces, not much alveolar tissue for gas exchange.  Pop made me promise that I wouldn't ever tell Mom what the doctor had said.  I went home that night and finished cutting out pieces for a quilt that I had wanted to make for a few years, and prepared to spend lots of time with Mom in the hospital and at their apartment.

One of my quilting friends had an old book with quilt pictures in it that included this block, which was not named.  To me, it was like a more sprightly version of the Seven Sisters block, so I called it Seven Dancing Sisters.  I had sketched it from the book, and had spent many long hours drafting it and saying bad words until I got it right.  So, I had the hand piecing to help keep me sane during the long hours sitting with Mom, sleeping in a recliner next to her bed in the hospital many nights.  I slept on the couch in their living room for a few weeks after she went home, making sure my Mom ate enough to provide fuel to her body to heal.  She had lived on about 800 calories a day most of her adult life, and was so afraid she might gain weight that I had to get really firm with her about eating.  She introduced me to her friends and neighbors as her Nazi Nurse, LOL.  Then, she had a setback--an infection had settled under her sternum.  I had been back home for less than two weeks, and had to pack up and head back to Grand Rapids.  The sternum had to be removed.  This left a deep hole in her chest, and when the nurse was changing the dressing, I could see mom's heart beating under a thin layer of tissue.  It was pretty horrid.  She was in the hospital on IV antibiotics until it had healed enough to have a plastic surgeon fill in the hole with muscle from her left pectoral and her abdominal muscles, and graft skin over it.  All this time, I was piecing the blocks for the quilt.  This took up most of the summer of 1995.  I completed 7.5 of the blocks.  After Mom was finally well enough to be on her own with Pop again, I put the blocks away.  I couldn't bear to look at them for about 10 years.  Then I finished piecing the blocks, made the setting strips, put the top together, and sandwiched it.  I did some straight line quilting on the setting strips, then once again put the quilt away.  A few years later, I swapped a vintage sewing machine to a friend to have her finish the quilting on her longarm.  She did a lovely job.  The detailed quilting in the stars and the background behind them doesn't show up in the pic above, unfortunately.  Now the quilt lives on DH's bed.  :)


  1. Oh Pat - I'm sorry your mom isn't doing well. Your care for her after her surgery and insistence that she eat helped her tremendously. You have been a wonderful daughter to her.

    It's interesting how these sewing projects help us through rough spots but then we can't finish them. I made a nightgown for my mom the night she died hand sewing it from Swiss batiste. It was a simple project that I was able to finish that night. I really understand those words about the sewing keeping you sane.

    I'll keep your mom in my prayers; you have a full plate with Bill's health issues now too. Honey you are the one who really needs our prayers!

  2. We're on a lot of prayer lists, thank goodness. And every prayer and positive thought is appreciated more than you can know.

  3. Beautiful quilts and beautiful heartfelt stories to go with them. I love how you use your art to express life. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Thanks, Barbara. Having a creative outlet really seems to help me get past life's rough spots.