Can I See a Show of Hands?

Denise finishes a quilt top
Denise finishes a quilt top

I heard a lot of stories during our Piecing for Parkinson’s day last Saturday.

Maureen, who I wrote about on Monday, brought two friends to sew with her in honor of Maureen’s mother who died of a rare form of Parkinson’s last year. This is her friend Denise who’s holding up one of the two quilt tops she finished that day.

The next photo is of Frances who drove from Sunapee to sew in honor of her husband who also died of Parkinson’s disease last year.

Frances finishes a quilt top
Frances finishes a quilt top

But the story I want to tell you today is about a couple named Nancy and David.

I met them three years ago at the kickoff event for the Parkinson’s Comfort Project when I spoke at a conference sponsored by the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

David learns to cut fabric
David learns to cut fabric

Nancy has Parkinson’s disease. Before she did, she was a quilter, a quilter who loved hand work. She brought me a small book of photographs of her quilts that day. They were beautiful.

When Nancy heard about our Piecing for Parkinson’s event, she had to be part of it. When the couple first arrived at Quail Hollow where we were sewing, she pushed her walker slowly around the room to soak in all the fabric and motion and color.

Then she sat down near met Her husband placed a large piece of floral fabric in her lap that had been donated to us earlier in the day, and she spent 20 minutes just stroking it over and over.

David was ready to pitch in. He doesn’t sew but he doesn’t know how to cut so I set him up with a mat, rotary cutter and ruler.

After a while, Nancy said she’d like to do some hand sewing. I’d been binding a donated quilt off and on all day so I asked if she would like to take it over. She did so I threaded a needle for her, and tied a knot. Then I draped the quilt over her lap, gave her the needle, and she smiled.

The relationship between those two people was a marvel to witness. David is quietly attentive, making sure Nancy has what she needs without hovering over her or making decisions for her. But you can see him silently grieving for the losses that his beloved wife has sustained.

Nancy stayed until we were nearly done cleaning up. She stitched maybe ten inches of the binding, and I could tell what a struggle it was. But she was so content.

Watching her, I was forcefully reminded that I am fortunate to have hands that work, that can pat my dog, caress my husband’s face, make quilts or soup or bread or plant a garden or write a book.

The next day, David emailed me to thank me for welcoming Nancy. I asked if we could give her a quilt. Since she was a quilter herself, she may not want one of ours.

But he told me that she gave away the quilts she made so yes, she would treasure a quilt from us.

So we’re off to make a quilt for Nancy.

And that’s why we do this.