From The Heart of a Quilter

From The Heart of a Quilter
"As a member of the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative, I was asked by Ami Simms to send a 2" x 6" strip of purple fabric with the name of someone I loved on the back. The name of someone who has, or has had, Alzheimer's Disease or a related dementia.

All of these purple strips will be used in a ceremony this spring at a venue where the "Alzheimer's Forgetting Piece by Piece" quilts will be displayed. Each of the little pieces of fabric will be pinned on participants as a reminder to think about Alzheimer's and to honor the person and their families who face, or has faced, the amazing challenges of this terrible disease.

I knew immediately that I wanted to send a patch with my own mother's name on the back. But as I cut my purple fabric and wrote her name with indelible marker, I realized how many others in our family have been, or had been, diagnosed with Alzheimer's and related dementias. As I began to write their names on the back, it was like I could hear an honorary roll call being read out with each and every name. At first I had a lump in my throat, and then a pain in my heart and suddenly I began to feel tears as they streamed down my face.

Nine names, nine purple strips, nine lives touched and destroyed by the hurricane force of this horrible disease. Nine people in my family alone, in my memory, in my own relating generation, in my DNA, in my own heart. Five of them have passed on now. Five names are now written in the stars in the heavens above.

Four more names, including that of my own mother, are waving in the ribbons of love in my heart...still alive and still facing the challenges of a changed and ravaged life. And as these purple banners wave across the hearts of all of those who view the "Alzheimer's Forgetting Piece by Piece" quilts, they wave too in all of our lives. Lives changed forever, just as our own loved ones' lives have been changed.

It is roll call that none of us should ever have had to hear out loud. A roll call none of us should have to witness a roll call that each and every one of us may face some day. We may face it...you and I...unless research provides a cure or maybe somewhat to prevent or stop its terrible path. Each of us must stand up and be counted...before it is too late for us, or for someone we know, and someone that we love....we must remember now...for tomorrow may be too late for us to remember at all."

Michele Bilyeu
Salem, Oregon
From Michele's blog, "With Heart and Hands: A Quilting Journey".
(Used with permission.)

PS: Ami...it was a wake up call for me. I just had never counted. I never realized that nine people in my family had or have, Alzheimer's. I realized if I can have that level of numerical denial...then what do other families have? It blew me away.