Sending a child off to war is hard enough, always dealing with the worry and fear of what might happen. But losing that child brings a grief all its own.
And losing a child in war brings a unique designation, one nobody wants, the title of Gold Star mother.
Members of La Plata Quilters Guild can’t bring the child back, but they can bring comfort, which they’ve been doing one lovingly stitched quilt at a time. There’s something so heartwarming knowing that someone you don’t even know cared enough about your loss to put their time, skills and creativity into making something for you.
Holli Pfau says the guild is on a mission: “To provide a handmade quilt to each Gold Star family in Colorado that has lost a son or daughter in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.”
Since more than 200 families in the Centennial State to date have suffered such a tragic loss, the guild’s members have their work cut out for them. Their effort began six years ago, when member Pat Akers was approached by a Blue Star mother (a mother who has a child or children serving or have served in the military) asking for a quilt to be donated to be sold to raise funds for the annual Gold Star weekend, which is held at the end of September.
The cause is personal for Akers. Her mother became a Gold Star mother when Akers’ 18-year-old brother was declared missing, then killed in action, during World War II.
That original quilt was the first of what have become 60 quilts made and donated by the guild, including 20 this year alone. They were presented to the local Blue Star Mothers organization at the end of August, when the guild got a face-to-face look at what their gifts mean. Jill Borhen, a Gold Star mother, came to their meeting to talk about the death of her son, Billy.
While the local quilting group is committed to the effort, they’re not the only quilters in the state to sign on for the project. Another dozen or so were made by quilters from Buena Vista, Monte Vista (Hey, if you have a view, you’re inclined to be a quilter, apparently), Colorado Springs, Pagosa Springs (ditto with the springs) and Dolores also will be given to Gold Star moms at the weekend this year.
Pfau told me a great story about something that happened at last year’s presentation of the quilts to the Blue Star mothers. Member Christy Lewis arrived with a quilt she had made with Diane Mattern and a tale of a rescue.
As she and her friends were driving to the meeting, they drove over some metal on Wildcat Canyon Road (County Road 141) and demolished a tire. While they unloaded the SUV to get to the tools out, one passenger flagged down a vehicle going by.
A kind young man stopped to help, and as he was changing the tire, they told him they were on their way to deliver a Gold Star quilt. Amazingly enough, he had a Gold Star quilt in his car, given to him by the mother of his best friend since the second grade.
The good Samaritan had been an Army Ranger himself, serving three tours in Afghanistan. His friend, who had been with the group, was killed, but the young man carried his friend’s body to safety.
The friend’s mother was so grateful, she gave him the quilt that had been presented to her.
“I keep it with me always,” he said, showing them the quilt in a plastic bag in the backseat of his car.
Akers saved Lowe’s quilt for last, to be presented with the story. It went to a mother who had lost her son, who just happened to be an Army Ranger.
There are still many Gold Star families who have not received a quilt. Quilters do not have to be guild members to help. Anyone interested in making a quilt for next year’s gathering may contact Akers at 884-0144 or email@example.com for details.
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These birthday celebrants may have to hold umbrellas over their cakes to keep the candles lit – Bruce Harris, Kristen Collins, Michelle Thom, Karen Boots, Marie Maple, Jessica Widder, Colton Winn, Mark Fleming, Robin Southworth, Sue Mages, Alexa Fleming, Kobe Szura, A.J. Sidener, Ginny Dignum, Wendy Lasher and Brynn Nelson.
Special greetings go to one of my favorite people – Cindy Cortese.
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Tick tock, the clock never stops ticking (unless it’s digital, which means it never started) and the pages of the calendar never stop turning. And since it’s September, that means the Durango Friends of the Arts Fall Luncheon and Fashion Show, taking place Sept. 19 at the DoubleTree Hotel, will be upon us before we know it.
A few years ago, DFA created a policy of not buying a few extra lunches to cover people who just show up on the day. They only order the number of meals that have been confirmed by the date they need to give a count to the chef. That means if you have not RSVP’d and paid by next weekend, you won’t eat.
The theme this year is steampunk, a preview of the 2015 Snowdown theme. People are still struggling with the concept, even though I ran a bunch of photos with costumes after covering the Powerhouse Science Center’s Steampunk Stomp to give folks ideas.
It’s essentially how Jules Verne and H.G. Wells thought how the future would be technologically. The “Wild, Wild West” (television and film) was steampunk style. It can be straight-on Victorian, the Western look or teched-up Victorian looks. (Although I’m pretty sure neither Verne nor Wells could imagine women wearing intimate wear such as corsets or bloomers, as outerwear.)
The decorations are sure to be over the top, and the energy is always high and positive at this event, which raises money for artists and arts organizations.
Tickets are $45, and include lunch, entertainment and silent and live auction. The auction items are wide and diverse, including jewelry, dining, a private tour of Chimney Rock National Monument with gourmet lunch by Deborah Uroda, a new Trek Lexa bicycle, golf, tickets to music and theater performances, several private dinner parties, art, clothes and accessories – a true extravaganza. I personally am intrigued by the shooting lesson with Durangoans and Olympians Lanny and Tracy Barnes.
Reserve tickets by contacting Myriam Palmer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 375-0804.
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The nights are getting cooler (perfect for cuddling) for the anniversaries of Nick and Sandy Blaisdell, Butch and Karen Keller, Duane and Judy Danielson, Kevin and Tabitha Heckman, Steve and Andrea Owen and David and Nancy Shipp.
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Here’s how to reach me: email@example.com; phone 375-4584; mail items to the Herald; or drop them off at the front desk. Please include contact names and phone numbers for all items.
I am happy to consider photos for Neighbors, but they must be high-quality.