In memory of Pat Rainey, and a life lived well
In 2015, a group of 12 quilters began sewing together, on a project called Foot²Freestyle. This was a fun block swap begun by Kate Chiconi (that’s me) and Sue Brown, and the plan was that each of us would end up with 36 blocks of 12 inches square to make a quilt. We were a diverse group, from the US, the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, the UK and France.
Pat Rainey was one of our number. She told me at the outset that she had advanced ovarian cancer, and as a cancer sufferer in remission myself, I knew that this was not a good prognosis. However, Pat wanted to join us, and felt it would give her a goal, something to strive for. When the names were put into a hat and drawn out month by month, Pat’s name came up last, for May 2016. Sue and I both offered to swap with her, as we were earlier in the schedule. But no, Pat would stay where she was, thank you!
In November/December 2015, Pat had the opportunity to join a drug trial which gave her some hope she could gain a little extra lease on life from the treatment. Sadly, she did not match the drug trial requirements and she returned to her regular medication. In early January, she let me know that she was now in hospice care. I decided something had to be done. Pat’s quilt needed to be made, to give her work so far for the rest of us meaning, and to give the rest of us a way to show our love and appreciation for our friend.
I proposed this to the group, and collectively, we agreed that we would defer the existing schedule and drop everything to make Pat’s quilt happen. It would in any case be donated to the Ovarian Cancer Quilt Project, but we wanted her to have the chance to touch it, lie under it, and feel the love and support of her quilty friends. My original plan was to collect the blocks and assemble the quilt myself. However, Sue pointed out that the majority of the others in the F2F group were closer to her geographically, and if she did it, the postal delay would be much less. Her logic was faultless, and time was of the essence. Day by day, the blocks were sent to Sue to assemble, and the photos to me to arrange into a collage, a ‘virtual quilt’ which I could send to Pat before the real thing arrived. This way, she’d see what we would make, even if the fabric one arrived too late. In the event, we made it. Pat was extremely frail when it arrived, but was still able to let us know that she loved her quilt and appreciated the efforts we’d made to get it to her. The entire process from deciding to make this quilt to mailing the finished thing took just one month.
Pat died on 12 February 2016. We are diminished by her passing.
You’ll see the photos of the blocks we made for Pat in the F²F Gallery if you go over there, but here are both the ‘virtual quilt’ and the real thing, which is going to the Ovarian Cancer Quilt Project, kindly donated by her family to be auctioned to raise funds for research. You can see that some small changes were made. I was working from photos, but when the actual blocks were received by Sue, some placements had to be tweaked to make better design and colour sense.
Annett Witteler, Germany
Avis Gordon, UK
Christina See, US
Claire Alexander, US
Emmely Treffers, the Netherlands
Esther Frenzel, the Netherlands
Kate Chiconi, Australia
Lynn Hutton, France
Nanette Gilbert, Australia
Sue Brown, US
Susan Nixon, US
More information can be found here:
The Ovarian Cancer Quilt Project
The Ovarian Cancer Quilt Project Facebook Page
You can also Google ‘Ovarian Cancer’ followed by your country’s name, for the local equivalent. In Australia, this is Ovarian Cancer Australia.
If you feel able, please donate something, join me in making a quilt for Ovarian Cancer Australia each year, or make your own quilt for your local Ovarian Cancer organisation. It’s such an important cause…