"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will."
Mahatma Gandhi

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Following his tour duty in Viet Nam, my oldest brother, Jeffrey, found himself at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.  While there, he met the love of his life, Margaret, and they have now been married over 40 years.  How lucky Jeffrey was, not only did he find the love of his life, but also he found himself his southern family, as Margaret had brothers and a sister in the area, and they gathered often and laughed alot.  

Over the years, I had the pleasure of getting to know Margaret's sister, Loretta, mostly when we went to North Carolina to rent a beach house with Jeff and Margaret and their children.  Little did we know that when you rent a beach house with Jeff and Margaret, you get everyone, and I mean every one. That week was more fun than a barrel full of monkeys. 

During that week, I learned that Loretta was a friendly, loving, relaxed, southern girl, who would make you feel at home by her side within minutes of your arrival.  Her sense of humor and fun made her even more magnetic.   Such beauty and joy.   Along with the laughter, deep inside Loretta was a steely determination to get things done, and that she did when she formed, owned and ran the Montgomery School of Hairdressing, a highly successful venture. 

The years went by and the next time we spent with Jeff and his family (all of them) was at the marriage of one of Jeff and Margaret's sons in Tennessee.  Reuniting with this group that we had last seen on the shores of North Carolina was so joyful, so much fun.  That joy was tempered by the fact that Loretta was engaged in a battle for her life, fighting a cancer that had returned two years after initial treatment.  In spite of that, she got as much pleasure as she could out of the weekend, and she did smile and laugh, but not as she had in the past. 

The last time I saw Loretta was in October of 2009, when my friend Sue and I ventured to Johnson City, Tennessee (the sight of the wedding) to attend a Kaffe Fassett weekend at Tennessee Quilts.  My dear brother was not going to allow his baby sister to be near the South without an entourage, and so a batch of them, including Loretta and her husband Willi, drove north to spend the weekend in Johnson City.  

During that trip, Loretta wanted to buy a quilt for one of her daughters, and so we shopped around but did not find.  By this time, Loretta was very sick and very weak, yet she remained determined that her daughter should have a quilt.  The weekend went by without that elusive quilt being found.  

The big North Carolina group decided to spend the Thanksgiving week together at the beach, and so off they went.  Before their trip, Jeffrey asked me to pick out a quilt pattern and fabric that the ladies could work on with Loretta, doing the cutting of parts to send to me to sew.  Off to the beach they went, but the quilt work took a back burner to their time together.  

The fabric and pattern then came to me, as Loretta's health deteriorated.  I made that quilt, sewing here in Massachusetts, at the same time Loretta was losing her battle in North Carolina.  I never knew I could sew and cry at the same time.  There are tears sewn into these seams.  My sister did the binding, her fine stitches adding her love of Loretta to the quilt.   

Loretta died on January 12, 2010.  A few months later, her husband Willi passed away.  

Part of finishing Loretta's quilt was to incorporate a piece of Loretta's daughter's baby blanket,    a hand-shaped satin piece, with the worn stuffing still inside.  With both of her parents gone, I thought a hand full of hearts may somehow comfort.

We will be delivering this quilt to North Carolina this week, heading South to attend the wedding of Jeff and Margaret's daughter.  This quilt has been sitting and waiting, and I am glad that my sister and I can deliver it in person. 

 In memory of Loretta, that's how this story started.  

Mrs. Loretta Montgomery, 56, of Fayetteville, died Tuesday, January 12, 2010 in her residence surrounded by her family.


  1. So touching! Well said. The quilt is a lovely memento. The hand & hearts is a perfect touch.

  2. So sorry to hear this! What a beauty she was ! The quilt is so pretty and I am sure her daughter loved it

  3. A beautiful tribute to a beautiful Lady. Your words and the quilt really bring her to life. Having recently lost my mom I know her daughter will treasure the quilt forever. Safe trip.

  4. Your quilt is beautiful and Loretta was a beautiful woman. Her daughter will be thrilled with it. You were lucky to know her.


Some day, I’d like the memory of me to be a happy one, I’d like to leave an afterglow of smiles when life is done. I’d like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways, of happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days.