Kelly Van Gorder
Temple City, CA USA
Width: 7.25" Length: 10.75"
Materials/Techniques: This tiny quilt was made with a machine appliquéd great horned owl and branches. The background was "painted" with Copic markers. Finally, the quilt was thread embroidered and machine quilted. The fabrics were Stonehenge, McKenna Ryan and a fabric with "realistic" shrubbery used for the owl's face.
Artist Statement: I made this tiny quilt for Arlie, my father-in-law's mother. My father-in-law was a kind and gentle man who could become a force when confronted with unfairness. He believed life should be fair and learned this from his mother, Arlie. My father-in-law died from Alzheimer's disease in 1986.
Dedication: The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative is a cause I care about. Colin, my husband, and I watched his Dad, Harold, suffer through nearly 10 years of pure misery as he lost his abilities to function after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. I remember how confused we were in the beginning before a diagnosis was made. This was in late 1978 when news and facts about Alzheimer's were much less available although the disease was definitely well known. My father-in-law did not drink but we actually worried he had taken up secret drinking before things came to a head because of his increasingly odd behavior.
One day Grandpa (he was a one-time Grandpa by then) came over to our little house and told us he had forgotten how to write his own name. He looked at me with the saddest eyes I had ever seen except for those I saw when I looked over to Colin. I used to call Grandpa “Saint Harold” because Colin just adored him. Soon after that, Kaiser was able to diagnosis him as a probable Alzheimer's patient. Dad was 59 years old.
Spirit Guide, the Great Horned Owl quilt, was made to honor Arline "Arlie.” She was my father-in-law's mother and I know that she took excellent care of Grandpa when he was young and not so young. The family stories about her make me smile and sometimes cry. Arlie and I share the same birthday, which I think is very cool. She was known to feed anyone who came to her door and take leftovers to those who did not. Arlie cared about everyone. I heard this many times over the years.
When Colin and his twin, Chris, were born, Arlie came to California from Canada to help my mother-in-law. Nine months later my mother-in-law told her she could handle things and maybe it was time for Arlie to return to Canada. I think Arlie loved California, those twins, and, of course, her son and daughter-in-law. She did return home and never had an opportunity to come back. That was in 1952-1953 and she was 77 years old. She died in 1974 at age 99. Harold was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease less than five years later.
Some people have a good and true impact on their world and that California visit is a featured story in Colin's collection of family lore. I think my mother-in-law felt guilty asking her mother-in-law to leave but she, too, needed to run her family as she saw fit. It was complicated and there was little money in the family for travel either in Canada or in California. Colin saw his grandmother one more time when he was sixteen. By then she was 92 years old and he remembers her as tiny and frail.
Arlie - an Earth Angel. This small little quilt, Spirit Guide, is in your honor Arlie. You are remembered.
This quilt has Fast Finish Triangles.
This quilt earned $80 for the AAQI.