Wednesday, February 13, 2013

This is not the blog post I hoped to start the new year with. My dad’s health has been declining since Christmas and sadly, he passed away last week. He suffered from Lewy Body Dementia, a cruel combination of the cognitive challenges of Alzheimer’s and the physical symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Dad died peacefully in his sleep while in the care of hospice. He didn’t suffer; he didn’t linger and for that we are grateful. We knew he was failing and tried to prepare ourselves for his death, but, of course, you never really can. Saying goodbye was difficult, even though we’ve been doing it a little bit at a time over the last several years. He was a fine man, a great dad and grandfather, an all around good guy.

Not to make light of it, there is a quilt connection here, in the therapeutic value of turning to needle and thread in times of grief. During the mid 1990’s, we lost several family members and friends: a beloved aunt and uncle, my dear brother and his partner, a favorite teacher, and the owner of the quilt shop where I worked. In the midst of it all, I also received my diagnosis of MS.

It was tempting to wallow in self pity, but I knew I had to overcome depression and despair for my health and family’s sake. In true “fake it till you make it” fashion, I turned to quilting to help lift me out of the doldrums.

Gathering scissors and fabric scraps, I simply went through the motions of cutting squares and strips with no thought to color, print, or measurement. I’d take fabrics as they came, give them a casual trim, and put them in piles of lights and darks. When I had enough pieces to run through the machine, I sewed them into log cabin blocks.


What started out as mindless sewing became a prayerful experience. “Snip, sort, sew” was my mantra. The quiet focus and familiar routine helped soothe and heal my broken spirit. 

The result is a mourning quilt, a sort which holds a time honored place in the history of quilt making.

There’s also a connection between my log cabin quilt and one recently completed by my friend Barb. I remember a quilt gathering at Barb’s house in 1995 where we compared blocks. It’s funny that both quilts have taken so long to complete.


  1. Diane, I'm glad the end was peaceful as I know there was a lot of heartbreak over the years with his disease.

  2. I am so sorry. No, as much as we try to prepare for that moment we can never really get there until it actually happens. I am so glad the end was peaceful.

  3. I am so very sorry. Why does life have to be so hard? Sending hugs your way.

  4. I'm so sorry for your loss, Diane. You and your family are in our prayers.

  5. My deepest sympathies on the loss of your beloved daddy.

    Doing SOMETHING that you could control surely eases the mind when so much bad was happening seems perfectly logical to me--and such beauty in your happy blocks.

  6. Sending hugs and prayers for you and your family . . . losing someone you love is never easy.

  7. I was so saddened to hear about your dad. I also had no idea of how many losses you suffered in such a short time.
    Quilting can be such a comfort in those times.
    Your log cabin is wonderful!
    how funny that these old projects have come back to us at the same time.
    thinking of you and your boys (men)

  8. I just happened on to your blog. I suffer from a chronic pain condition, my two daughters also. My last doctor appointment ended with a prescription for me to "quilt more." She said, "everyday." She knows that I am better if I do. Sometimes that means looking at quilts on the Internet.
    Take care of yourself and know that others are thinking of you. Peaceful wishes.

  9. I just wanted to say that I am sorry about your dad. Our family just had a loss this past week (2-15-13)my sons grandmother, she was diagnosed with cancer on 1/23 and was gone only 3 weeks later...what a blessing that it was a short time for her! I can see from the picture that you posted of your dad that he looks like a very war and kind man. I too lost my dad almost 11 years ago...cant believe it has been that long! I amm glad that you have "quilting therapy"! My thoughts and prayers are with you and your famiy~God Bless

  10. I just ran across your blog. And wanted to say you are in my prayers with the loss of your dad. My dad passed in September 2012 with Lewy Body Demntia; and Alzheimers with neoprathy. He had a long stay in a nursing home for 21/2 years and his peacefull passing was almost a blessing from such a cruel disease. I miss him terribly as I know you miss yours but rest in the assurance he is no longer confused on in pain or trapped in a wheel chair. Blessings to you and your family.

  11. I stopped by your blog to see your log cabin quilt and find that your father has passed away. A sad time for you. My mother-in-law had Lewy Body disease also. She passed away about five years ago.