Gardeners garden. Quilters quilt.
Jody Postalwait found herself with a double inheritance. She spent her childhood in part sitting beside her grandmother, Marie Rose, learning the time-honored art of quilting. Time tends to honor; most preteens and teens don’t.
“To hear stories about when she grew up and about quilting bees, how they went from house to house, I didn’t appreciate it like a lot of younger ones probably don’t now.”
Postalwait recalled the fruits of her grandmother’s patient generosity when she later joined a quilting group called the Sew Sew Sisters founded by Edith Bailey. When Bailey passed away, she too left something for Postalwait — the leadership post of the 25-woman group.
The Sew Sew Sisters may belong to different churches, but at least two Saturdays each month (one per month during summer), they are nondenominational, meeting at Pikeview Christian Church, Beckley, for the purpose of giving ... and receiving.
To Postalwait, the purposeful camaraderie of belonging to the group mirrors the kind of mentorship and love she received from Rose, with older and more experienced quilters teaching and supporting younger ones.
As an adult, Postalwait experienced an unanticipated benefit of being a Sew Sew Sister, when they became a steady source of comfort to her in coping with the sudden death of her 26-year-old son, Bobby Keeling, in 2012.
“It was that phone call you get early in the morning that every parent dreads. There was a car accident.”
Grieving is like a quilt; it completes itself in stages and no two finished products are the same. It can’t be finished within someone else’s timeframe. It has patches that neglect to make sense alone, but unite in perfect harmony when all the pieces are fit together.
Postalwait turned to quilting, to her group, as therapy.
“Quilting had always been my go-to thing in tough times. It didn’t take me long to get back because I felt you have to push and to do things. All of those ladies have lost someone, too — they are there as a great support.”
For their outreach efforts, the women agree to take on two large projects each year to benefit the community. The most recent was the completion of 32 handcrafted quilts for the beds at Bowers Hospice House. The donation of carefully measured and quilted squares, fused into a colorful rectangle of complementary and contrasting patterns, was the largest single donation of quilts yet made to the house for patients with life-limiting illness.
Bowers Hospice House Director Rhonda Culicerto commented, “Each of the patient beds have had quilts on them for when they are first admitted since the house was opened. For a lot of people, quilts mean warmth and comfort. So, it takes them back to a time where people got together and talked and sewed and sought each other’s company. The quilts add another element of comfort.”
Suzan Lilly, another Sew Sew Sister who worked on the project, has found her artistic escape one intricate square at a time since 1987. Her iPad screensaver reads: “I Quilt. What’s Your Superpower?”
The busy tax auditor is also a caregiver to three aging family members who require her help with doctor’s appointments and daily activities. To the outsider, one more to-do would threaten her delicate balance, but quilting recharges Lilly to accomplish what others may view as impossible, very much like a “superpower.”
“I do it as often as I can. I think in patterns, in colors and in design. It’s a distraction, but it also keeps you focused, if that makes sense,” she described.
Sew Sew Sisters is Lilly’s primary quilting group, and she is always eager to try a new sampler block and learn of how a rotation left or right, with a chosen palette of colors, will give it unlimited possibilities, squared. The primary benefit, however, is in the giving.
“I give most everything I make away. I’ve been given so much. I have to pass it forward. Hospice has done so much for the community the family and friends, how could you not give back to them?”
Adding to their utility and visual aesthetic, Lilly treats her quilts as giant prayer cloths before send-off.
“When I first learned to quilt (from family), I was taught to pray over the quilts. I pray for the person who will be using it, for their families. It’s more than a quilt; it’s the comfort and the love of God.”
From replacing threadbare blankets with timeless, handcrafted works of art to learning a different technique for their lexicon of patterns, the Sew Sew Sisters prove their all-season mission is anything but “so-so.”
“We have donated lap blankets to the VA Medical Center, baby blankets (to agencies helping moms recovering from addiction). We would love for even more quilters to be part of the ministry,” said Postalwait.
For more information on the Sew Sew Sisters, contact Jody Postalwait at 304-929-2617.
Wellness Wednesday: Adding an ‘I’ to TEAM
Erica Tuckwiller is pediatrician with a deep-seated passion for changing the course of the childhood obesity epidemic.
“As a physician, good nutrition is one of the biggest challenges I face in the care of our children and I actually have been involved in the fight against childhood obesity beginning with my senior thesis early in my college career at WVU,” she stated.
The jazz man
If Bob Thompson’s 30-year career as a professional musician has taught him anything, it’s that there are really only two kinds of music.
Leave a good legacy, and respect others’
The death this week of the Rev. Jerry Falwell led to a network and cable blitz of commentaries on his life. We’ve been bombarded with a flurry of eulogies, criticisms, apathetic shrugs and lots of news footage regarding Falwell’s faith and foibles.
Crossfit Nation: Working out the WOD way
Just as fashion trends come and go, so do fitness fads, and Cyndie Chinn had tried them all.
Living large in smaller spaces
How is it possible that as your nest gets emptier, your garage gets fuller? Living off the grid sounds tantalizing — the extreme version of paring down. But are you ready for solar panels and growing your own groceries or would a smaller home do the trick?
- Relishing the faith of little children
‘Guns’ for Life
With the latest World Health Organization figures showing global life expectancy increasing from 64 years in 1990 to 70 years in 2011, staying healthy enough to add quality to the quantity of life is an important consideration.
Crack open the power of the coconut
Now let’s get this straight …
We know about Parrotheads. And Cheeseheads. But when did Coconut Heads become cool?
Move over, argan — you are so last season. Another exotic oil is taking lead role in everything from shampoo to weight-loss supplements. That cast-iron skillet seasoning, stretch-mark banishing essence of the hour is — coconut oil.
Free summer serenade concert to be held
Aurora Celtic, sponsored by Ivy & Stone, presents the free Summer Serenade concert Saturday at 6 p.m. on the Brown House lawn in Summersville.
WVU Extension: Healthy summer eating tips for all occasions
Summer and early fall are the times of year for family reunions, potluck picnics, pool parties and various other celebrations where we like to share food.
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- Wellness Wednesday: Adding an ‘I’ to TEAM