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A Special Mother’s Day

RIP Donna Johnson, May 1931 – May 2019

There are all kinds of Mothers. There are those who birthed you, there are adopted mothers and those who came into your life. I was one of the lucky ones. My second mom, as I call her, and I met some 40 years ago. I had no idea then how she would play a part in my life. Her daughter and I became best friends and our birthdays are 6 months apart, so I gained a sister also. I also gained a nana and gramps who were her folks. They all lived on a ranch and I didn’t live far away. I got to spend a lot of time on the ranch. Nana accepted me and taught me how to make her pies which were the best. So, when I started quilting she was so happy. That was one of her hobbies. She would piece by hand and I would quilt them.

I saw the love my second mom had for her mom and how much my second mom loved her daughter. I saw all the traditions they did together – made crafts, cooked together, exchanged recipes, and through all this I got to be a part of it all.

For many years we lived close. We would spend many weekends together. Mom decided to get goats. They were already grown so they had their challenges but mom loved them. Before long I did too, even to this day I have goats.

They had to move off the ranch so they moved to Sacramento and later to Gardnerville, Nevada. This made it hard for our visits in person but we lived on phone calls and email. I always knew she was there and I believed she would live to be 99 years old like Nana. Mom was my biggest supporter. She was one of Quilts of Honor’s biggest supporters, too. She loved reading the Blog and when she couldn’t see it, her daughter would read it to her.

When mom fell and broke her hip, it was downhill from then on. Her daughter was always there day after day even wiping away her tears as mom could barely see from losing her site.

This weekend being Mother’s Day, you need to hug your moms tight and thank them for the love they share with you and for all they have taught you and the many traditions they bring to your family just like quilting has been handed down through generations.

So I dedicate this Blog to my second Mom for all the love she gave me. I will miss her dearly but she will be in my heart.

To all of our Mothers – Happy Mother’s Day.

God’s blessings to you all.
Gail

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We had our smallest QOH crew yet — Flo, Ginny and myself with 26 quilts to award. We had a nice dinner at Elephant Bar before trying to master the parking garage at San Francisco’s Airport. We never get the same floor and this time was no different. As we drove in, Ginny spotted a luggage carrier which was our savior. We loaded that baby with our quilts – boy Ginny can move. We finally found Alaskan airlines and our USO contact, LeAnn, who we have grown to know since this was our 5th Honor Flight. All of those involved with these flights are all special people. Their love shows through in everything they do.

Each flight has a guardian for each of the senior veterans. The guardian wears blue shirts and the veterans wear red shirts. The ages on this flight were youngest 83 years old and oldest 97 years old. Most were WWII and Korean veterans. They were so happy to be honored. The flights are so special for the veterans who get to experience it and also special for those who get to witness all the honors the veterans receive. Strangers lined the aisles clapping and waving flags as the Bagpipers played and marched the veterans to where we were located. They lined them up in their wheelchairs – very few stood. The 97 year old veteran stood so proud and when I gave him his quilt he stood tall. I told him he didn’t look 97 years old and he laughed.

As their names were called, Ginny handed me the quilts and Flo took pictures. The smiles were so big. One veteran jumped from his wheelchair and ran to get his quilt. Another veteran told me I had a good job – “look at all the hugs you get.” The neatest thing I got to do was award a family friend a quilt who I hadn’t seen in years. His son was his guardian so the trip meant so much to them both. I was glad I could be a little part of making him happy. This veteran and I have a bond as we both love a special friend who is now in Hospice. She is like a second mom to me and she would be so proud to know I gave Jimmy a quilt. Before we left, an Army veteran, 96 years old, came to thank us. His granddaughter was his guardian and was so proud. He told us how proud he was of his quilt.

So, it was a special night. Couldn’t have done it without Ginny and Flo. It took all three of us just to get us out of the parking garage. We even made walking U-turns.

Until our next adventure . . . . . . . . . .

God’s Blessings,
Gail

 

 

Today is Quilts of Honor’s 9th Anniversary. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought we all would be honoring our veterans for so many years. All I wanted to do was honor my brothers and sisters and, because I could quilt, this was for me. I will always thank Marcia Stevens for sending that newsletter out asking Longarmers to get involved. Little did I know it would change my life.

My heart reached out to my brothers and sisters as I could feel their pain and see it in their faces as I shook their hands thanking them for their sacrifice to our country. Many had tears streaming down their faces but not me. Often people would ask, “How can you do this and not cry?” Soldiers don’t cry but inside I was, and little did I know I would be diagnosed with PTSD. This only gave me the passion to keep on no matter what happened in my life. I have been asked, what if I can’t do this, and my answer is, “I will do it until I can’t.”

I have often told people interested in making Quilts for our veterans that it will take over your life. One day I got a call from Quilts of Honor Texas and Debbie said, “Gail, I need a bigger Longarm. You were right. Quilts of Honor has taken over my life.” Texas is so busy and doing a great job.

Then there is Wisconsin South East who just keeps on making quilts – they even had to buy a bigger Longarm. Here we are, all volunteers, and everyone puts their hearts and souls into making these quilts. I’m sure we are helping to keep fabric and Longarm companies in business.

I never envisioned we would grow into what it is today. We now have 12 Chapters in different states all working in their areas to honor our veterans plus our Headquarters here in Valley Springs. We mail to those veterans outside of the Chapters’ areas.

With everyone in Quilts of Honor being a volunteer, it is amazing to see the hours so many have dedicated through the years to honor our veterans. I always say there are no egos in Quilts of Honor. It’s about the veterans! I am so proud of all that has started from the very beginning and has just kept on growing.

I would like to welcome Quilted Hugs of Gratitude Minnesota to our Quilts of Honor Family.  On May 1st we will welcome a new group in Illinois to our Family.

Thank you to all of our Chapters.  We appreciate you all for being a part of our Quilts of Honor Family.

Thank you to all who have stayed with Quilts of Honor these past 9 years and have made it what it is today. It takes many to do what we do and every volunteer is needed no matter how you help.

God’s Blessings
Gail

PS: Have you groups and friends sign up for our Blog https://quiltsofhonor.wordpress.com/ and the QOH Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/134434059904991/

 

Merry Christmas

Gail Update

Hi everyone,

Gail did great with surgery on Friday. The Doctor went on the conservative side replacing parts in the old right knee replacement and cleaning up scar tissue. She has been getting up on crutches and the hospital PT has already signed her off. The Doctor MAY let Gail go home Monday.

Gail is so thankful for all your prayers and also for having Rue by her side. Rue is good medicine! Of course she is still the “star”. The staff loves her.

Thank you for your continued prayers and good wishes,
Jan and Flo

A Busy Third Week of December

Monday began by honoring Charles. Flo and I met his sister at his house so we could surprise him. Stephanie walked in the door first and then we followed. He looked at us like, who are you? I didn’t let him think about it too long before I awarded him his quilt. His wife also loved the quilt and both of them were amazed. Charles has been pretty sick so I know it meant a lot that his sister thought about him.

Today we went to Dignity Alcove, a rehabilitation home for veterans. This was our third year going there. The Native Daughters of the Golden West provided them with a nice Christmas lunch and set up bingo for them to play. Last year I sat across from a USMC veteran who hadn’t been in the program too long. We started talking and he began to cry. I remember telling him that it would get better and to just keep trying. The veterans must follow all the rules and graduate. They pick the veterans they feel are going to make it. This year they gave us a name and it didn’t ring a bell but I did say to Flo, what if it was the same guy. Since I had seen him a year ago, he had grown a long beard and was wearing his veteran’s hat proudly. When I called out, “Greg”, sure enough it was him. He got such a big grin and stood up. I told all the guys that I had met Greg last year and here he was receiving his quilt. I was so thrilled to know it was him and he had made it and maybe I had helped a little. It is days like today that make us feel so good to bring smiles to our veterans. It has definitely felt like Christmas this week. I want to especially thank Roberta Taylor for all she does for these struggling veterans. Thank you Roberta for letting us be a part of the program.

Hope all of our volunteers will have a good Christmas with family and friends. You all deserve it for all the Christmas you give all year to our veterans.

Until next time, God’s blessings,
Gail

Early Christmas at QOH Workshop

What a great day we had yesterday at our QOH Workshop. 44 volunteers from north and central California came to spend the day volunteering for Quilts of Honor. Once a year we have a special luncheon and goodies to thank our volunteers for all they do for Quilts of Honor. This year one of the gifts were patriotic sunglasses donated by United Way of San Joaquin County and our good friend Andy. You can see by the pictures that the ladies enjoyed them.

We had our lunch catered for the first time by L & M Blodgett Catering out of Escalon CA. They were great. Both ladies were really surprised when they saw what we did. Brenda has a son who is a veteran of Enduring Freedom so a quilt will now make its way to Florida.

Before our lunch, we had visitors from Modesto. Ursula had arranged for them to come for a visit but Ed, the husband, had no idea why they were coming. When we surprised him with his quilt, his eyes started to water and he grabbed onto the Quilt. He told the whole group that it was a room full of angels. Ed is a police officer and helps with families of officers killed in the line of duty. We recently had an officer killed in the line of duty and he was a Marine. I asked Ed if he could take a Quilt of Honor to the family. So, today Ed’s trip will be something he will always remember. It was also his birthday so we all sang happy birthday to him.

Our lunch was so great. We had baked ham, macaroni and cheese, two kinds of salad, and a roll. Then desert – apple crisp and cherry crisp with ice cream on top. It was so good. We got so full and had many leftovers. I really recommend if anyone needs a caterer to use these ladies. One of the ladies even grew up in Gustine where my family spent many years. We all had fun talking about who we knew.

We ended our day with our annual Board meeting with the whole board present. It was a great day.

Thank you to everyone who came. We missed those who couldn’t make it.

God Bless,
Gail