Perhaps the only thing better than a pictures of a quilt would be a whole book of pictures.
Even better than that would be receiving that book via snail mail from an Internet friend you've never met, but thought of you because she knows the subject hits very close to home.
Many thanks to Diane Auser Stefan from Arkansas for knowing how much this book would mean to me.
Alzheimer's Forgetting Piece by Piece is a collection of pictures and stories by 54 quilt makers who have been affected by the ALZ. The quilts were originally made for a traveling exhibit to "draw us close to a difficult subject so we can understand, become more compassionate and ultimately use our own talents to effect change."*
"The idea for what would become the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative," writes, Ami Simms, founder of Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative" first popped into my head in the shower. When Mom was living with us, it was one of the few places I could let out my tears privately. I took very long showers.As wonderful as the quilts are, and to be honest I've only skimmed through the pages, what really touches me is how the community of quiltmakers worked together. I don't think there is a time in history when a group of women have not sat around a quilt frame and stitched for cause. I dare say it all began when cave women circled a dim fire while they made leopard-skin blankets. As important as the blankets/quilts were, even more so is the comaraderie of the women who stitch together pieces of their lives - joys and sorrows, gossip and truth, hopes and dreams, life and death - not just fabric.
The resulting exhibit includes sad imaginings of an existence stripped of memory and learning' gritty illustrations of the anger, frustrations and stress of caregiving' beautiful tributes to loved ones take by Alzheimer's; and the anticipation of a future cure.These are extraordinary quilts of heartbreak and hopes."*
In times when fabric and time were at a premium women learned to use both to create wearable, usable art. What might have looked like a scratchy, serviceable blanket held together by tiny stitches was, in essence, a canvas for expressions of beauty and love. As far back as the Civil War quilts were made to raise money for a variety of causes. Like Alzheimer's Forgetting Piece by Piece where all the profits from the sale of the book go to ALZ research, today's quilters often make quilts for special causes. They are often given to sick/hospitalized children, veterans, the homeless and those in nursing homes. Quilts are like warm, cozy band-aids. They help people feel better. The money raised helps fund research and cures. But in its simplest form, a quilt is a representation of the quiltmaker's thoughts and feelings.
This afternoon, I hide from the 100 degree temperatures in my cool, quiet haven. A quilt lies across the chair next to my bed. A cat shares my pillow. I have unintentionally hurt Sweetie's feelings. I feel angry and sad. I want to run as far away from ALZ as I can get, but I will look at pictures of others who have stayed. I want to rage and ask "why me? why now? haven't I done my share of caregiving?" Instead, I will read what others have shared and look for wisdom in their words. I hate living with the knowledge that he big bad wolf is hot on my heels, coming to blow my life to smithereens but for awhile I will take some of the advice I had out so freely. I will give myself a time out, take some deep breaths and feel grateful for my many blessings.
- I am grateful for Internet friends whose kindness never ceases to amaze me.
- I am grateful for books that take me to other places like magic carpets.
- I am grateful for my grandmother who made the first quilt I ever wrapped around my shoulders and who taught me how to quilt.
- I'm grateful for quilters, known and unknown, who give freely of their time and talent whenever the call is sounded.
- I'm grateful for my sister and daughter who never met a quilt they didn't like.
- I'm grateful my Sweetie who can make me laugh and cuss in the same five minutes.
*Alzheimer's Forgetting Piece by Piece, Ami Sims, Curator, Mallery Press, Inc, 2007, pg 3-5