Eleanor’s Story

Over the years Wendy and I have had many wonderful repeat travelers with us on our Sew We Go adventures. One of the most enjoyable “characters” we’ve had join us is a dear woman named Eleanor. Eleanor lives in Illinois and heard about our Mississippi riverboat cruise when I spoke to her quilt guild. She and her friend Claire decided to join us, way back in the Spring of 2001, and we had a marvelous time (Eleanor is third from the left, I’ll let you figure out where Wendy and I are 🙂 ).
Our next cruise was to Alaska and Eleanor was one of the first to sign up (in this picture she’s just below me – top left).
We followed that trip with a European riverboat cruise on the blue Danube. We floated from Germany, through Austria and completed our trip in Hungary. It was delightful – and Eleanor was right there with us (to the left of Wendy in the first row).
Next we were off to Holland during tulip time. I love this picture of “quilting” time in the lounge with Wendy explaining to Eleanor the next step in our project. This is followed by Eleanor and her roommate Mary in Keukenhof Gardens.
I must admit, my most memorable times with her were on our riverboat cruise through France on the Rhone and Soane rivers. Eleanor had been a teacher in Paris in her youth and she was the most amazing tour guide for us during our post-cruise extension. She led us from Notre Dam Cathedral on a lovely walk along the Seine (stopping for a photo shoot), that culminated in a delicious lunch at Christines!
These photos include Eleanor’s dear friend and roommate Susan. She plays an important part in the rest of the story!
A few years after this trip I got word that Eleanor was in poor health and was living in a care facility. We really missed her on our subsequent adventures.
Fast forward to just a few weeks ago. To my surprise, and extreme delight, I got an email from Eleanor and this is what she said:
“Dear Chris, Until April I had not quilted for three years! Here’s why:  I had a fall which caused a concussion, misdiagnosed as being caused by a seizure. The medication caused all kinds of side effects which I won’t go into. But the turn around came when Susan, (you may remember her from the Rhone trip) made a brilliant remark. I had changed doctors, the side effects had disappeared, but the nursing home did not want to let me return to my apartment. (I used a wheelchair and had a caregiver).
Susan said, “Let’s go to Paris!” Doctor gave the OK and with Sylvia (my caregiver) and Susan’s generosity, off we went.
So where is quilting?  Well, when we got back to Lake Forest, the care facility was willing to let me return to my apartment. Sylvia and I were unpacking fabrics and discovered two that I had purchased years ago. “My grandson would love this; he’s into creepy crawlies.” I thought. Only problem: my wheelchair was too wide to fit into the console of the sewing machine. A former student knew of a place where I could buy a wheelchair narrow enough. I didn’t want to cut the fabric up too much and Sylvia wanted to be a part of things so I kept it simple. Only quilting done: freehand stars done in glow in the dark thread on the “dark” side
and outlining the stars on the daytime side.
She also included this wonderful photograph of herself and Sylvia.
What a blessing! I emailed her right back to ask if I could tell all of you about her in a blog post. Her response?
“Dear Chris , I am delighted to hear from you! (Although your blogs WERE the communication that kept me going when I was too weak to turn over in bed). You are welcome to share my story.”
And that’s what I’m doing.
Dear Eleanor, I’m thrilled to see you feeling well and back to quilting. I’m humbled and pleased to hear that you enjoyed my blog posts throughout your difficult journey.
Thank you so much for one more trip – the one down memory lane!

A Tribute to Pat

As I’m writing this post my heart is aching over the loss of a dear quilting friend, Pat Gilane. She and Bob are at the foot of the staircase in the Alaskan group picture above (Pat’s the one in the pretty red floral dress  🙂 ).

Pat had struggled with pulmonary fibrosis for years. She was a true example of grace in suffering, and a joy to so many. She knew Jesus as her Savior and is breathing easy in His presence at last. I’m praying for Bob and their family as they move forward without this sweet lady. She will be missed.

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