I began my quilting career when I was 5 years old, sewing strings to a pattern cut from Alden’s catalog pages by my mentor, my mother, Malinda Whitt. She was always a part of every quilt I made, usually making the same pattern out of a different color. I dreamed of making a scrappy Double Wedding Ring quilt, one she never wanted to make.
Mom and I discussed the colors and planned a girl’s day out to get the fabric, as she had been diagnosed with stage 4four colon cancer. Dad had another plan—he wanted to go. She always felt she had to hurry when he was along, but I assured her he would just have to wait with us. He did. I will forever have the memory of him sitting on a stool just talking to the lady while we changed our minds at least a dozen times. It was a wonderful day.
The quilt was pieced while waiting for chemo, doctor visits and hospital stays. Many times, Mom would ask, “how are you going to quilt this?” I could never quite imagine it quilted, maybe I knew she wouldn’t be there for that part of the quilt.
I finished the quilt top just a few months before she passed away. My family and I were making the arrangements when we saw a casket made for her. It had a Double Wedding Ring quilt pattern on the pillow and inside the lid. Inside the circles of the rings, hearts had been stitched. I knew at that moment how I was going to quilt my quilt. Many tears went into the stitching, but I finished the quilt.
Evelyn Morgan, Olive Hill
In 2008, my husband was diagnosed with T-Cell Lymphoma. His only option was chemotherapy, which he gladly took in hopes of more time with his family. He was a veteran, lifetime farmer and 20-year school bus driver, as well as my husband of 60 years and the father of one daughter. He wore cotton plaid work shirts everyday for comfort. During his remission, we watched many “westerns” and history movies together always referring to the same shirts they wore in the movies. He made me promise to save his shirts after he was gone. After he passed, I preserved his shirts for seven years. I honored his request by having a beautiful memory quilt made from them that will last another lifetime. I gave it to my daughter who uses it daily with great memories of her dad, Carroll Purdom.
Doris Purdom, Gravel Switch (Inter-County Energy)
“Holding Hands at the Heart” is a quilt designed and created for my brother David as comfort for him through chemo treatments. David’s love of family and faith inspired the heart, created with handprints surrounding a cross. Family from Kentucky, Arkansas and Texas, ranging from his youngest grandson to his oldest sibling lovingly traced their hands in hopes of bringing comfort, warmth and love through his medical journey. When his family cannot be at his side, their hands will softly wrap him in a quilt hug.
Nancy Miles, St. Francis
After moving to Kentucky, I was facing breast cancer. A friend of mine sent a beautiful pillowcase called a “healing pillow.” You sleep, cry, laugh or punch it. It doesn’t care what you do to it, it just gives comfort. As a thank you for the wonderful care I received at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, I have sewn so far 700 pillowcases to be handed out by my radiation oncologist to women in his care. A lot of the small, leftover fabric pieces I am sewing now into a memory quilt in honor of all the woman battling breast cancer.
Hannelore Christian, Brandenburg (Meade County RECC)
The most memorable and meaningful quilts that I’ve made are comfort quilts, made from the clothing of someone who has died. When my sister-in-law died, I made a quilt for her 12-year-old son using her blouses and shirts. Since then, I’ve created over 50 comfort quilts for people using their loved ones’ clothing. Many of the deceased I did not know, however, their clothes often told me stories about who they were when they were alive. In doing this work, I’ve seen how transforming clothes into quilts helps to heal the grief of losing a loved one.
Sandi Taylor, Independence (Owen Electric)
When my sweet friend, Kenney, was diagnosed with cancer, I knew I had to make her a quilt, even though I had just started quilting.
After five months, I sent it to her with a letter, saying that I wanted her to picture my arms around her whenever she held it.
Kenney carried and slept with the quilt every day until she died in July of this year.
I know that it gave her a sense of comfort and love. I am so blessed to give her a gift that truly expressed how I feel about her.
Rachael Logsdon, Independence (Owen Electric)
I realized early Ms. Hester quilted…“Well honey, everybody who ever got married or had a baby in Russell County has a Hester quilt!” We talked many hours, as I gave her chemotherapy. I loved her, she reminded me of my Aunt Jeanie, who made me the very last quilt she was able, after being afflicted with Alzheimer’s. In Ms. Hester’s last days, she asked her sweet family to make sure I received one of her handmade quilts, “and make it a pretty one!” I proudly display both of my favorite quilts, side by side, in my home with pride.
Lee Ann Muncie, Campbellsville (Taylor County RECC)