12/17/06 — Patchwork of memories, friendship and love

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Patchwork of memories, friendship and love

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on December 17, 2006 2:00 AM

Hazel Johnson never got to finish her Christmas quilt before she died.

Her daughter, Yvonne Tillman, and Mrs. Tillman's friend, Jo Anne Daniels, were at Mrs. Johnson's side on Sept. 24 when she took a breath and looked at Yvonne.

"I love you, Mom," her daughter said as her mother's eyes closed for the last time.

She would have been 90 in January.

Yvonne and Jo Anne had met just three days earlier when Mrs. Daniels' mother, Eleanor Fields, became Mrs. Johnson's new roommate at Sunbridge in Mount Olive.

They bonded immediately as they helped get Mrs. Fields settled. Jo Anne had brought some needlework, and they talked about crafts and the many quilts Mrs. Johnson had been unable to finish.

They were talking about quilts when Yvonne's mother took her last breath.

When it came time to send flowers, Jo Anne remembered the quilting club -- the Bee Attitudes -- that meets on Wednesdays in the fellowship hall at Daniels Memorial Methodist Church.

So when they were getting ready for the funeral, she told Yvonne to pick out her favorite among her mother's quilt tops.

"Let's have it done to remember your Mom," she said.

Jo Anne donated the money she would have spent on flowers to the club, and the club bought a new quilting stand and went to work.

Club member Markey Duensing said it was an honor to be able to complete the quilt for Mrs. Johnson.

Mrs. Duensing scanned a photo of Yvonne's mother sitting in her favorite chair at home and created an insert for the quilt with the words "Lilly of the Valley" written in script in Mrs. Johnson's own handwriting.

And she admired the work -- from one quilter to another.

"(Hazel Johnson) did a beautiful job putting it together. She was a wonderful quilter," Mrs. Duensing said.

The insert will be added to a corner on the back of the quilt.

And it will be a precious gift to a daughter who still misses her mom.

"I am absolutely thrilled to tears," said Yvonne as she held the insert and cradled the red and white Christmas quilt in her arms in the fellowship hall.

She said her mother enjoyed quilting so much she tried to keep quilting even when she couldn't.

"She'd try, but she just couldn't manipulate it," Yvonne said.

It had been a year without quilting when Mr. Johnson went into Sunbridge. It had been two years without quilting when she died.

Jo Anne's mother is still in Sunbridge and between roommates now. Mrs. Fields is 82. She is recovering from a hip fracture.

Jo Anne said it was fate and luck that brought her and Yvonne together.

"It started a wonderful friendship between two women who didn't know each other from Adam," she said. "(Yvonne) has a Christmas quilt to remember her Mom, and we have a new wonderful friendship."