It was a quilt of paper, not fabric that saved her sanity, a picture of a quilt made into a puzzle. She spent hours of her free time working on the puzzle, carefully studying the colors and shapes of the small pieces. Working on the puzzle gave structure to her suddenly unstructured life.
She had been a career military woman. For over twenty-five years her days organized and no doubts about what she’d do. Most of her off hours were detailed, she slept, she cleaned, she prepared for her next day of duty, she visited friends and family. A few hours of unclaimed time she could fill, entire days, were more difficult, it was the weeks, months, years of unstructured time looming ahead of her that did her in. She cracked. This strong woman who could handle most physical challenges, found herself drowning in sea of free time. Recognizing the problem, she sought help and admitted herself to a hospital for psychiatric help.
She thrived in the hospital environment, once again her days were defined. Slowly, with help she began to pull away from the structure of the hospital routine, and devise her own day. Still, she stayed within the confines of the hospital. She stayed where it was safe, if she couldn’t make a decision, someone would make it for her. During this cloudy time, she wasn’t yet in complete control of her day, yet the hospital staff did not schedule her day, she found solace in working on a puzzle.
The 5,000 piece puzzle featured a picture of a postage stamp quilt. Struggling to fit the small pieces of the puzzle together she began to put the pull the pieces of her life back into shape. An idea was formed, she’d make a quilt. Except, she didn’t know the first thing about quilts, or making them. Her counselor helped, she introduced her to local quilters who quickly took the woman under their wing.
Now that she had a purpose, making quilts, she felt ready to tackle everyday life, outside the confining, safe walls of the hospital. Under the tutelage of the quilters she blossomed and bloomed, happy in her new life outside the military. Today she spends part of every day working on a quilt and she displays her work regularly in local shows.
Her name isn’t important, she isn’t the only quilter to face this, or similar challenges. She is real though, I met her a few years ago at a quilt show where she gladly shared her story.
Quilting helps us all deal with the trials and tribulations life throws at us. How has quilting helped you?
The pictured quilt was made by the quilter Mr. Robert, you can see more of his work here.