This is one of the greatest honors I have ever had - having a quilt in the traveling exhibit, Alzheimer -Forgetting Piece By Piece. It started almost 4 years ago. Ami Simms' mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. For those of you who don't know who Ami is, she's an internationally famous quilter known for her great sense of humor (http://www.amisimms.com/). In her energizer bunny kind of way, Ami wanted to do something to both raise money and awareness about Alzheimer's. She worked in the medium she knows best - quilts. She called it the Alzheimer Art Quilt Initiative.
So she first put out a call for quilts that would help to educate the public about this terrible disease. She chose 52 of them to put together a travelling quilt show. I was so thrilled when I found out that mine was one of them. My father, Leonard Krisel, died in 1998. He passed away from a heart attack, but he had Alzheimer's. It was a blessing at the time. Mentally and physically he was in terrible shape. Making this quilt was an opportunity for me to honor my father and revisit his life. "Leaving Us" was designed as a 3 panel quilt, depicting 3 stages of a person's life who has Alzheimer's. A tree full of life and family is the first panel. As the dementia starts to take hold, cognitive functions are lost. And at last, the only thing left is a shell of a person, who is still a father, a grandfather, a human being.
I made the quilt using dupioni silk and spent lots of hours sitting at my sewing machine, thinking about my Dad, and blanket stitching all of the leaves. I used a gold paint pen to write on the leaves. The poignancy of my quilt led Ami to choose it for the cover of the CD depicting all of the quilts. I was beside myself with joy.
Ami's belief in this project, led her to invest lots of her own money to self-publish a book - Alzheimer's - Forgetting Piece By Piece. (All of the profits are donated to Alzheimer research.) It is a wonderful art book with all of the quilts and the authors words about their creations. (You can purchase a copy at http://www.alzquilts.org/.) Ami also started on-line auctions for small quilt pieces to raise money for research. In all. she (along with the help of many people) has raised close to $300,000. Impressive! (Unfortunately, her mother passed away at the beginning of November, 2008).
Initially, the quilts were supposed to travel for 3 years and then return home. But there were more and more opportunities for them to travel. When asked if I would mind letting her keep the quilts for a longer time, my answer was YES! Who would see my quilt if it was sitting in my closet?
I was reminded of all of this recently, when I found out that The Upper Cumberland Quilt Show in Tennessee (http://www.quilt-festival.com/currrentnews.htm) was hosting the Alzheimer quilts in September and they were using my quilt as the poster. MY QUILT IS FAMOUS and it makes me so proud to be part of this group and to keep my Dad's memory alive.
So many of us have been touched by this cruel disease. You don't need to be a quilter to relate to these quilts. Check the schedule (http://www.alzquilts.org/) and bring a few tissues with you.