Wednesday, October 03, 2007


In February of 1993 we moved to Portland. We had lived in Ashland for 13 years and had many friends there. I owned a quilting fabric shop, which was, as quilt shops in small towns seem to be, barely more than a break-even venture in financial terms, but was my own creation, dear to my heart. Ray was offered a very good job in Portland and so we moved and I closed my shop.
Portland was wet and dreary and I missed my friends. In April I took Emily to visit a college in Missouri and became very ill. When we arrived back in Portland I was taken from the plane to a hospital and had my ruptured appendix removed. Two weeks later I was not recovering and went back to the hospital for a second surgery for complications from the first. I won't describe how sad and lonely and sick I was. You can imagine. One day I was feeling a little better and decided to venture out in my car for the first time in over a month. I had been hearing about an amazing fabric store on the far side of Portland and I decided to go find it.

I was browsing the thousands of bolts of fabric when I heard someone say, "Terry?" I turned to find Jill, who was a Sales Rep for one of the fabric distributors who used to call on me in my shop in Ashland. "Did you come to quilt with us?" I was delighted to see Jill, who I had always liked, but confessed I was confused by the question. She explained that she was part of a quilt group that met every Wednesday in the classroom at this store. She took me back to the classroom, with about 15 women sitting around tables visiting and doing handwork. To my complete surprise I found, among them, Mary Jane, another Sales Rep who had been so helpful to me when I started my shop, and Jackie, one of my former Ashland customers who had moved to Portland several years ahead of me. I learned they were the "Fat Quarters and String Piecers" quilt group and they welcomed me right in. I drove clear across Portland every Wednesday for the next 3 years to spend the day with this wonderful group. I told them today that they saved my life, which is really a huge exaggeration, but they saved something in me. They were such a wonderful group of women and they were my first friends in Portland.

When I went back to working full-time I was no longer able to make it on Wednesdays. The group carried on for another year or so, then the fabric store told them the room would not be available for them and attempts to find other suitable meeting places didn't work out, people moved away and the group disintegrated. Today 8 of us met for a reunion. We're all older, but still much the same and had lots to talk about over lunch at Gladys' beautiful home.

We drank a toast to our friend, Louise, who had been such an integral part of the group and a dear and funny soul. She passed away several years ago. Then we caught up with families and children and grandchildren and who had moved and shared what we knew of those who couldn't make it.

Virginia spoke for all of us when she said, "Quilting has given me a wonderful life. How else would I have known so many incredible women?"


  1. Anonymous8:57 PM

    Oh, Terry, I'm tearing up here. What a beautiful tribute. And poignant description of a hard time in your life. You're such a good writer.

    And besides that, the similarities between us just keep a-comin'. I too nearly died from a ruptured appy--2 weeks in hospital, two major surgeries (the first botched). A nightmare that lasted many months, during DD#1's senior year in high school. I know whereof you speak, my friend. That group DID save your life.

  2. what a wonderful testimony to the positive power of friendship among women. However it is that we "meet", we becme stronger for it. I have gained so much from meeting you. Thanks.

  3. Anonymous5:30 PM

    What a nice get-together and also one of your great stories.

  4. Anonymous8:50 PM

    That's exactly it!! Quilting has given me such a wonderful life!

  5. Oh, it's been too, too long since I've dropped by here! Please forgive as real life has been demanding lately.

    This is such a lovely post. How wonderful that these quilting angels found their way back into your life at one of your darkest moments.

    Love this story.