This week is second in a series of posts (you can read the first here) spotlighting quilts from the ‘Alzheimer’s : Forgetting Piece by Piece QSOS‘. Each of the quilts was made by a quiltmaker whose mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Our first quilt comes from Sonia Callahan:

“‘Women Who Were’ was something that was in my mind for a very long time. My mother had “dementia/Alzheimer” and was in a care situation for seven years. I would go and visit her and as I sat there I got to observe the various people who were there and recognized the fact that some people were more advanced in this disease than others and some people really still cared about themselves. Basically I tried to capture that in the quilt. I also saw my mother fading and I saw her go through the stage where she wasn’t quite sure who she was and I had hoped to capture that… I have two older brothers and we oversaw her care after my father died and that is where the quilt originated. What I really wanted to do was to capture the various people that I observed for the many hours that I sat with her and also recognize that there is a world outside that window, that there is a whole world that these women don’t access. So it is kind of hazy and I meant to do that intentionally so that you would get the feeling that you were enclosed in this room and that the outside is no longer available, which is true to a degree. We did bring my mother out and have her for half a day or a day, but she always went back to her home. One of the characters in there is a woman called Olga and when my mother first came in she and Olga made a wonderful twosome. They developed a great relationship and they would often sit in the lounge and hold hands. So one of these people has a name, but the rest of them are just sort of people that I have observed… This was her life and this is the life of many of the women who were very distinguish women and were in the same situation that she was. I have to commend the care that she got and it is in a way a tribute to the caregivers who take care of the elderly, because that is a special talent and a very, very special way of giving.”

Timi Bronson and her 3 sisters each made a small quilt representing how they felt about their mother, who was diagnosed with 

“‘Shattered Lives’ is actually four small quilts that were then put together into a framing system that I came up with. I have three sisters and we each made a twelve by twelve quilt that is in fact a complete quilt in and of it’s self. They sent them to me and I put the four quilts into a frame using cotton fabrics. The individual quilts represent what each of us feels about our mother who was diagnosed with a progressive form of dementia in 2004… [T]he only thing that I said I was going to do, that I knew for sure it would be those little bars in black. They took it from there. Dona and I both decided to use a photograph to do our pieces, and the other two used piecing techniques and we all kind of incorporated the same color scheme, which was very odd because we did not discuss it at all. 

My quilt is actually done from a photograph of my mother that was taken on their 50th wedding anniversary. I took the photograph and put it through several different techniques in different photo programs to actually shatter it so that it looked like a piece of broken glass. I then printed it on to fabric and appliquéd it onto the background fabric. The dementia has actually shattered my mother’s life and it has shattered our lives. She is not the same person that she once was and as caregiver for her, my life certainly has been changed completely.”

You can read more quilt stories, including more stories from the ‘Alzheimer’s: Forgetting Piece by Piece QSOS‘ sub-project on the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Quilt Alliance website.


Posted by Emma Parker
Project Manager,  Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories