Friday, September 21, 2012

From Heartbreak to Hope

I was already committed to working today and Saturday so I made a trip to Portland to the NW Quilt Expo yesterday. My main motivation was to see the traveling Alzheimer's Exhibit. It was more moving than I had expected.


If you don't know anything about the exhibit please go here and read about it. My mom's name is somewhere on the purple panel. It's probably a good thing I didn't find it. (I wasn't looking for it)
The quilts tell a personal story of Alzheimers. I read about each and every one.



Especially in photos I see a vacancy in my mom's eyes. So many of these quilts and stories I could relate to. I understood because I'm in the midst of it.
Joanne Cunningham

Barb Vlack
Artist statement: Essential things to say to a loved one who is dying include: Please forgive me; I forgive you;Thank you; I love you; I will never forget you; Good bye. As a Christian, I could add, "I'll see you later," I am grateful that I had the time to share these very emotional thoughts with each of my parents before they died.  The last words I heard from mom, and later from Dad, were, "I love you, too." I had closure and peace. The bouquet says the essentials in the Victorian language of flowers: roses for love and forgiveness, rosemary for remembrance, forget-me-nots for everlasting love and remembrance, sweet peas for farewell.


I didn't get the information from this piece, although it seems self explanatory.


I overheard two women talking, one sharing about how her mom was fixated on some issue she was having with her.  We had a little chat and hopefully I was able to impart a little help in a situation that is so hard to understand.

I am so thankful I had the chance to see this. I really appreciate the quiltmakers and the story they tell through fabric and thread.
Thank you Ami Simms for using such a tragic disease bring such comfort to others.


Ami Simms has this to say about my blog post: Readers, please purchase a quilt from AAQI. Research is the only way we are going to find a way to prevent Alzheimer's. 

I agree wholeheartedly!!

38 comments:

  1. Each of the individual pieces you show are very self-explanatory in showing what Alzheimer's does to a person's mind. A powerful exhibit.

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  2. what a powerful exhibit, so emotional I am sure on many levels for you especially and many who saw it as well.
    thanks for sharing this with us.
    Kathie

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  3. I had the opportunity to see this exhibit this summer. It is very powerful. My dad was a Alzheimer's victim too.

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  4. What a powerful and heart wrenching exhibit! Thank you for sharing it.

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  5. Ok I am crying now. Thank you God that I did not have to go through this with my parents and be so willing that my children do not have to go through it with me.

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  6. Lori, my heart is in my throat from this post. I did so want to get down there to see the quilts but reading this, I feel a bit raw so maybe it would have been too hard. That vacant look has been haunting me lately with my mom but I remember to end every conversation with an I love you mom.

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  7. Powerful indeed. Thank you for giving us a glimpse at what you witnessed, and the link to read about the Alzheimers Art Quilt Exhibit.

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  8. Thanks for sharing. This brought me to tears. I feel for anyone who has to go through this. It's nice to know that people care. Quilter's are some of the most caring people I have known. God bless you all.

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  9. Wow, powerful indeed. The first one with the "romance" was so very touching. bless their hearts. They found some joy in their final decline. Thanks for sharing.

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  10. Dear Lori,
    I'm heartfully in thoughts with you and your mom and I'm sending a BIG (((HUG)) to you... I was extremely moved with your post, and I wish to thank you for sharing.
    Three weeks ago, we had to come back in a rush from Spain, as my beloved mother-in-law (85, suffering from Alzeihmer for 10 years) was suddenly getting worse. She died a week after, and although no communication was possible for a long time, we were all so happy to be around her and let her go in peace.
    "Nonna" (she was Italian) was diagnozed very late, as she couldn't speak French and it was hard to make precise tests in our local French speaking hospitals. Fortunately, she could finally enter a specialized care unit, with a lovely care team. She didn't speak, but amazingly you could hear her sing old Italian songs for hours...
    As a wife and mother of 6, she emigrated from Italy to Belgium in 1955 and had a very busy/joyful life in her modest, little house.
    We all miss her very much, but as Christians we know that some day we'll meet again. In the meantime, she's now resting peacefully with her beloved "Nonno"...

    XOXOXOXO
    NADINE

    (Lori, this event also explains my absence from the Jubilee Blog for the moment. I know you'll understand).

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  11. I don't mind telling you that my eyes are teary and my tummy is churning - very powerful exhibit. Thank you so much for sharing, Lori.

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  12. Lori,I saw that exhibit in Cedar Rapids some years ago. I couldn't read all the explanations as it was too close to my husband's death. Glad you could have the experience and be able to share with others, so they have an idea of how devastating it is for those of us who have been the caregivers. Keep up your good work for AAQI quilts for sale. I have ideas, but not much extra time and energy right now. Pehaps when winter comes and garden is done.

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    1. I'm so sorry for the loss of your loved one to this terrible disease.
      You've already done so much just by taking care of your husband.

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  13. Lori, an amazing and very touching post. This year has been hard, being the first since losing Mom. I can relate to all of those quilts. Thank nyou for all you do.

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  14. There was an earlier exhibit, curated by Ami Simms, at the Chicago Show a number of years ago. At the time, my friend's mom had Alzheimer's, and could only look at a few of the quilts. She just got too emotional. Now that my dad has the same disease, I can fully understand her reaction. These quilts are powerful. My mom passed away just a few weeks ago, and my dad hardly skipped a beat - after 62 years of marriage. I couldn't even share my grief with him. Such a cruel disease. Your post really choked me up, but I have been happy to see these - thank you!

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  15. Each story is more heartbreaking than the last one. Thanks so much for sharing this moving situation. I'm so glad you were able to get there to see it and share with us!

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  16. Hi Lori, I am so glad you shared this. I am touched by these lovely quilt pieces. Truly such a heartbreaking disease to experience. It's such a powerful thing to help each other and share these moments. xoxo Pam

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  17. tears fall as i read the artist statement that includes "Essential things to say . . . "

    this is beyound difficult and my heart goes out to all who have to go through it.

    :-)
    libbyQ

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  18. I love those pieces and you can see the messages by the design, so moving and so meaningful.

    Debbie

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  19. Hi Lori, it is coming up to two years since my mum died and it feels like forever,the hardest part was not getting to say goodbye and the best part was the fact that her sudden death spared her the indignity that was going to beset us all and that had already changed her beyond belief. Thank you for showing the quilts and their stories.

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  20. Lori, thank you for posting this, bringing awareness to this dreadful disease. I am at present travelling this journey with my DH of 50 years...he is now in placement and declining very radily.
    To see all those names on the panels is heartbraking, to think so many are suffering so much..
    Julia ♥

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  21. I don't know if I could see this exhibit...just reading about it and seeing the photos is heart breaking...so many nights at work in the ER we have to bring patients to our room for x rays...often their children (older than me) will come along to help keep them calm, or explain their issues...some patients come happily with us...then once the door is shut the patient may ask who the person was that came with them or if we knew which of the men in the room was their son...I will never forget the man who told me "I'm in here sometimes" while pointing to his head...oh, how many hugs I've given and hands I've held praying for a way to prevent or cure this...

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  22. What an amazing exhibition. Thoughts and prayers to all sufferers and carers of this most horrible of diseases.

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  23. Very strong - emotionally very challenging. Thank you for showing us these quilts. This information opens up some great dialogue for others. Gabe in OZ

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  24. what a sad but powerful and wonderful exhibit.
    I know Barbara Flack from my years in Illinois.
    I loved the small pieces you shared.

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  25. Oh Lori, thanks for sharing. I would love to see this exhibit sometime, but I'm so emotional just with this post, that I don't know if I could make it through. This brings back so many memories of my Grandma. Glad for you that you were able to see it and thank you for all the work you are doing for AAQI.

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  26. That must have been a 'difficult' quilt show to go to. Such a meaningful one for you too.

    I saw a video about this exhibition on TQS some time back where Ami was speaking about the purple panels.

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  27. The messages these projects share are powerful and say so much, even without reading the stories with them.
    Thank you for sharing, Lori. Every day I'm thankful that this insidious disease has not claimed anyone in my immediate family.

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  28. Thank you for sharing - my mom passed away a little over six years ago after struggling with Alzheimers for at least 5 and probably several additional years before we became totally aware of her declining situation. A difficult journey for all involved, but especially for her, in those moments of lucidity when she realized and was able to articulate the terrible loss of her essential self that she was so aware of but so powerless to reverse.

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  29. You are doing a fabulous thing here Lori by giving people the chance to share their stories and bringing this cause a bit more publicity - I have no personal story to tell but am moved by those I have read - it is an evil disease!

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  30. As with many tears are present as I viewed your quilts. Such an awful disease. Thank you for showing us the visual remembrances of our losses.

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  31. Lori,
    I have an elderly mother in law who has Alzheimer's . It is such a difficult illness and it has been hard to see this vibrant woman disappear behind the walls of dementia. I have the book to the first show that Amie did " Forgetting by the Piece" I can only read the stories bit by bit. They always make me weep- just like I am now.
    Hopefully some day they will find a cure for this disease that robs their loved ones bit by bit. Thanks for sharing some photos of the new exhibit.
    Warmest regards from Western Canada,
    Anna

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  32. Wow, thank you for sharing this wonderful exhibit and for all you do to support the cause.

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  33. My Father-in-Law's name is on a strip and I was honored to be asked to quilt the panel it is in. Thank you for sharing the exhibit

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    1. Thank you Pat for donating your efforts to this cause. So sorry about your FIL.

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  34. Wasn't it just something? I was so moved not just by the viewing but by the reactions of the viewers. I was asked my story..which of course is very, very long and I had one couple in tears!

    My biggest realization of the walk..that I had made my two quilts less than four months after breaking and dislocating my wrist in three place, after surgery, after a titanium plate and 10 screws.

    I was in Alaska caring for my mom with A.D. and my dad, with 2 heart attacks, and slipped on black ice. I just kept on cooking, cleaning, giving insulin shots, doing laundry with one hand. That's how crazy this disease has made me! Whew! It had never crossed my mind in all this time, that my relatively simple quilts were amazing because of my circumstances of making them at all. Ha to me! Wake up call about my life for sure ;_

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  35. Hi Lori,

    I popped in from Nancy's Near Philadelphia blog and had to tell you that my mother had AD, too, and I lost her in 2004. I've made a couple of these little quilts to sell on Ami's site but need to get back to that.

    Wish this exhibit was coming closer to the East Coast than Ohio. I am certain I would stand there and weep.

    Hang in there! If you need to talk about AD, just ask Nancy how to get in touch with me.

    Hugs!

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    1. Thank you baquilter. I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment and connect with me. Those of us dealing with that disease, unfortunately have a bond of sorts.

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