Clara Mae Aycock of Princeton loved Christmas. And every year, without fail, she cooked up collards and rutabagas as part of a festive family meal.
At the unveiling of the Community Memorial Quilt in the auditorium of Johnston Medical Mall on April 29, Aycock’s five grown children fondly recalled those sweet memories, and pointed to the quilt swatch taken from an apron that their mother wore only at the Christmas gatherings.
“It was always a big celebration, and her favorite time of the year,” says Ann Potter, a daughter who lives in Goldsboro. “The quilt brings back a rush of memories. It’s a wonderful way to remember them with love.”
At the Community Memorial Service every fall, families contribute fabric swatches that best represent their lost loved ones. The swatches are then gathered by the volunteer coordinator at the hospice house, who then finds volunteers to make the quilt.
This year, the Jo Co Quilters, an Extension and Community Association club, took on the challenge of making the quilt. And when the five quilters took the auditorium stage and unveiled their handiwork, the crowd oohed and aahed at the design: A tree of life with heart-shaped leaves, and the lines from the popular hymn, “Amazing Grace,” stitched into the border.
“It is amazing, and so beautiful,” said Renae Tyner of Selma, whose mother-in-law was represented on the quilt. “It’s a long-lasting legacy for our loved ones.”
Marielle Cano of Four Oaks, one of the quilters, described the club’s creative process as controlled chaos. “There was lots of give and take,” she says.
In the end, all five of the ladies did their part in making the quilt artful, thoughtful and memorable. On the back, there’s even a list of the 49 people whose lives are celebrated on the quilt.
The quilt and the memorial service are part of a bereavement program at Johnston Health Home Care and Hospice, and the SECU Hospice House. The quilt will hang in an alcove at the north end of Johnston Medical Mall. But it may not be there for long. There’s a plan to build a special display for the quilt at the hospice house.
In closing the ceremony, the Rev. Greg McClain, director of volunteers and spiritual care at Johnston Health, shared a comment he heard during a recent funeral service. “The last word isn’t death,” he said. “It’s love.”