Quilts Bring Comfort To Deserving Children
My mother, Lucille Matthews Geddie, is an inspiration to me and so many others. At 94 years old, she lives her life so beautifully — with purpose, passion, and compassion for others.
Her mother taught her to sew when she was just five years old and it’s something she’s loved doing ever since. She made my clothes for me when I was a child and was a master seamstress — other kids and their parents frequently wanted to know where I got the “latest fashions.”
In early 2007, Mom had a stroke. While she was in the hospital, doctors discovered she had a cancerous tumor. They planned to remove it as soon as she regained her strength from the stroke.
She came home and worked very hard with physical therapy several times a week to regain her strength. In time, she fully recovered from the stroke. She’s a really strong and determined woman that way.
While she was recovering, she was also worried about the cancer and her upcoming surgery to remove the tumor. She needed something to help settle her anxious mind.
She found out there was a need for baby blankets to give to children that are picked up from domestic abuse situations or who may have lost their parents in an accident. These kids usually end up in a police car then are taken to a child protective services facility.
With her sewing skills still in tact, Mom thought this was something she could do to help others and herself at the same time.
She had a supply of material collected over the yeas and she bought a few inexpensive pieces and began hand-stitching baby blankets that year as she waited for the surgery. It was a tremendous relief for her to know she was doing something she loved and that would help kids.
We made several trips to the ABC Room in Canton, a holding place for donated items for children in need. The staff never hesitated to let her know how much she was appreciated. Mom especially liked hearing how the kids reacted to the blankets and knowing they brought them comfort.
We had struck up a friendship with Thelma Barker, owner of Sew N Sew in Canton, often getting material and thread there.
Mom wanted to make more quilts but she’d long gone through what she’d collected at home and it was getting too expensive for her to do more than one or so a month.
Soon, Thelma decided she’d like to help. So she began donating material for Mom to make the quilts. This meant Mom could make many more and that made her and those children feel good.
Mom had her cancer surgery in the fall of 2007 and it was successful. They removed the tumor and her left kidney. After she recovered from that, she continued to make the baby blankets with Thelma’s continued generous donations.
After my father passed away in 2011, Mom asked to go live at Canton Oaks where she had family and friends her age. She’s quite social and needs company and activities throughout the day, so it’s a good environment for her.
The staff there is now part of our family. Any that have new babies or grandbabies coming ask Mom to make them a quilt and she loves doing that for them. They pay her for material that she gets on her own.
For the charity quilts, Thelma gives Mom enough material to complete six per month that Thelma then takes to needy associations including the East Texas Crisis Center and Children’s Advocacy Center — wherever they are needed to help kids feel better.
A couple of years ago some of the quilts started going to a state orphanage in Waco. Some of the ladies from Mom’s hometown church, Colfax United Methodist, made a trip to Waco with quilts Mom and Thelma had made. Mom was disappointed that she wasn’t able to go, but Thelma represented them.
A few weeks later, the orphanage director came and spoke at the church. Mom was there and was eager to hear him talk about the kids and the quilts.
The director had met Thelma during the orphanage trip, but he hadn’t met Mom. One of the ladies introduced Mom saying this is “the other quilter.” The director looked so pleased and said, “So you are Lucille Geddie!” Mom was so surprised and asked him how he knew her name.
He said, “Oh, Mrs. Geddie, you are famous where I come from.”
Feedback like that keeps her going and feeling good about her contributions to the world.
Since she started in 2007, Mom has made baby blankets that have comforted more than 1,500 children.
The feeling of helping kids and making a difference in their lives in some small way brings her as much comfort as she hopes the blankets bring to the children, she says.
Over the years, with each batch of material she receives from Thelma, she cuts off about a four-inch strip for each one she makes to get it to the size she wants. She started collecting the scraps from the baby blankets years ago and set them aside.
About a year ago she found she had more time on her hands in between the six quilts per month and started hand stitching the scrap pieces together, making bed-size quilt tops.
I took one to a local machine quilter. Mom loves butterflies so we chose a butterfly stitch to hold the quilt together. Figuring she’s going to make more, she now has her own label for these larger quilts made from the baby quilt scraps called Butterfly Snuggles.
That first one is on her bed and she remembers fondly every piece of fabric she worked on for the baby quilts.
We got a second one done for a friend. And now she’s completed a third, and a fourth, and another on the way.
She works on the baby quilts and the larger quilt tops almost every single day. When she gets tired she reads a while or takes a nap. She is involved in lots of other activities too.
She rides an exercise bike every morning for 20 minutes. She plays bingo and goes to birthday parties and enjoys dining with her friends three times a day. She gets her hair done every week and her fingernails painted almost as often. She gets dressed, complete with earrings and makeup, every single day and residents and their families often comment about how much she brightens their day.
She enjoys greeting newcomers to Canton Oaks and visits with friends and the staff several times throughout each day.
Yes, she’s an inspiration, and like the butterfly, she may take a rest every now and then, but she never forgets how to fly.