GREENVILLE — Not many people can say they have a “quilt factory” in their home.
Pat Meikle will say this is exactly what she has converted the upstairs of her home into, allowing her more space when creating her works of art. Meikle, a resident of Celina and a former director of the Mercer County Council on Aging for nearly 20 years, recently shared what inspired her passion for quilting and led her to donate one of her beautiful quilts, not once but twice, to raise funds for local hospice care.
Sewing was something Meikle learned at a young age. Since she was tall for her age, sewing came in handy to tailor patterns to fit just right. As time went on, she later learned how to quilt, which quickly became her new hobby. She liked to share her quilts with family. After each of her loved ones had received one of her quilts, Meikle knew she wanted to find other ways to use her passion to help give back.
“When you are young and raising a family, your top priority is wanting to be proud of your children. But as you grow older, your thinking shifts, and you hope that your children will be proud of you,” Meikle said.
Meikle has a history of giving back, particularly to help benefit hospice patients. In the 1980s, she donated a quilt to Mercer County Hospice (later becoming a part of EverHeart Hospice in 1990) to hold a raffle during the Mercer County Fair. She shared she has a soft spot for hospice and recognizes the importance of growing the community’s awareness for the services that hospice can provide for individuals experiencing a life-limiting illness.
“People are often afraid to use the word ‘die’ or ‘death,’ but this is something that we all experience at some point. Having hospice makes this chapter of life a little easier,” Meikle said.
Over the years, she has donated over 400 quilt tops to various charities. Meikle donates most of her quilt tops to local Lutheran churches for Lutheran World Relief. Local church members complete the quilts and prepare them to ship overseas for those in need. She shared that in addition to fabric donations, she has friends who also help contribute their time and skills to assemble some of her larger pieces. One of her quilt friends, Janet Rush, a longtime quilter of over 27 years, assisted Meikle in completing her more recent quilt.
When reflecting on her own experiences, she said that there was a time when hospice wasn’t yet available to help offer care to loved ones.
When she was providing care for her father-in-law in the 1960s, there was no hospice option available, and she often felt lost. She was struggling to balance her time between caring for him and her young children at the time. Meikle recalled one moment in particular when her then five-year-old daughter had enough of being quiet around her grandfather and decided to run off next door and play on her own. After a moment of panic, she found her daughter with a pile of books pretending to read to herself.
“I would have greatly benefited from hospice at this point in my life. Caring for someone that is ill really affects the whole family,” Meikle said.
She relied on neighbors, friends, and family to help take care of her children, knowing if she couldn’t be with them when providing care for her father-in-law, they were in safe hands with loved ones. Looking back, Meikle knows if hospice had been an option, there could have been a team of professionals that could have provided extra care for him, allowing her more time to focus on her children and taking in those last moments they had to spend with their grandfather.
Meikle’s husband, Bill, has the heart of a caregiver just like Meikle. His first wife, Mary, had cancer, and he was known in the community for how well he treated her. This inspired Meikle to offer this same love and support to Bill when he became ill. For four years, Meikle has cared for her husband at home. Recently it had become harder to keep him at home while his health declined. When Bill could no longer walk, she knew it would be best for him to enter a facility for extra care.
Meikle reflected that she could either lament the fact that she could no longer care for him at home, or she could celebrate that she was able to take care of him in their home for four years.
“There is nothing wrong with turning to help when it is needed,” Meikle said.
When her husband moved into the facility, she knew she might also want to contact her local hospice for extra support. She knew if she needed to reach out to EverHeart for hospice services, it did not mean giving up but instead could allow her more time to spend with her husband outside of the caregiver role.
“I was used to being the giver, but when you are the receiver, you truly realize how much kindness there is,” Meikle said.
EverHeart Hospice will be featuring Meikle and Rush’s quilt in a raffle to help raise funds for their General Patient Care. These contributions help offset costs of supplies and programs provided to their hospice patients at no charge, such as nutritional supplements, incontinence supplies, music therapy, and bereavement services.
Tickets are $5 each and can be purchased through their website www.everhearthospice.org. The winner will be announced Monday, Jan. 3 on EverHeart Hospice’s Facebook page, as well as notified by phone. For more information, please contact Erica Wood, Business Development Specialist, at 800-417-7535 option 6 or [email protected].