Friday, September 28, 2012

"Tribute to a Hometown Hero" Show & Tell at Local Guild

My quilt "Tribute to a Hometown Hero" has been seen by quite a few folks but before I gave it to Lowell I wanted to share it with my quilting friends at my guild meeting. I belong to Village Quilters Guild in Loudon, TN. and we meet the 2nd Friday of each month. Our guild is very active with 280+ members. Each month time is set aside for "Show & Tell" and I was pretty nervous about showing my quilt. Little did I know but my friend, Gail Pearson had told President Jackie Trombly about it.

Next thing I know Jackie starts talking about my quilt. She  begins by refreshing the story behind the quilt as alot of the women remember the events that cool Fall week concerning this young Marines death and how it  affected everyone whether you knew him or not. She also spoke of the State Trooper's accident and then I was asked to come forward with my quilt. By now I wasn't sure my feet knew how to walk and prayed I could speak. As I handed my quilt to the ladies who would hold it up I heard a gasp. I turned around to look at the quilt and for the first time I saw it from a distance. I told them how I had known Frankie's parents and the struggle in life they had. How Frankie had come into Lowell's life by giving him a ride home. Frankie was 12 when he decided he wanted to stay with and Lowell. I knew Lowell's grief was beyond belief and I wanted to do something special for him. I asked Lowell to gather some of Frankie's t-shirts and I would make a t-shirt quilt for him.
It took me several months to figure out what I was going to do but once I started it took on it's own life. The signatures were from his fellow Marines that Frankie had served with. I found a Marine Corp pillow panel, American Flag and Marine Corp fabric to use. As I am talking about Lowell's accident and how I hoped this quilt would help in his healing process I could feel tears begin to swell in my eyes. Oh no, not now!
"Tribute to a Hometown Hero" is a very special quilt and means alot to me as my hubby was in the USAF when we got married.  Now that he is retired and rides with the Patriot Guard I will always have a special place in my heart for those who have served in the past and serve now to protect our freedoms. When I finished talking I was in disbelief as everyone in attendance were on their feet applauding. Now the tears were streaming down my cheeks and all I could say was Thank You.
During our break they asked if I could lay the quilt out for everyone to see. I told them not to look close as I am new at quilting with my Long-arm machine.  After the meeting so many ladies came by with such kind words. I never dreamed it would effect people the way it had.  After it's visit I knew it had a healing strength sewn in it along with lots of love and prayers from anyone who saw it.

Patricia Reagan Swatzell
August 10, 2012

Thursday, September 6, 2012

My First Embroidery Lesson

I learned how to embroider at an early age with my first project a tea towel. One afternoon I was laying on my bed holding my hoop and just stitching away. I was really excited because I had finally finished it except when I lifted it up I had sewen a few stitches to my bedspread. Being a kid I didn’t quite think of the consequences when I took my scissors and cut my bedspread! Needless to say that was a bad choice but my tea towel was done and looked pretty.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My "Tribute to a Hometown Hero" Quilt

Last Oct 2011 our small town in East TN, laid to rest a 21 year old Marine ,CPL Frankie Watson who lost his life while serving in Afghanistan. Little did I know how much this young man's death would become a part of my quilting world. I had heard his name but at the time did not realize I actually knew him as a small child. The fact was I knew his parents. I had his dad in school when I was a teachers aide. Both parents struggled in life and I knew raising a small boy wasn’t easy and I couldn't imagine them being able to raise a small active child.  Frankie was with his dad until about age 12 then TN State Trooper Lowell Watson came into his life. Lowell would bring him home from ball practices or wherever he might be. Then one day Lowell heard a school bus stop out in front of his house and off got Frankie. He had to change buses 3 times but was determined to find Lowell. After that Lowell became Frankie's guardian and I wanted to do something special for him. Frankie was a smart kid and soon was able to catch up in school, become a top-notch football player and made friends with everyone. After graduation he went to the Police Academy and soon joined the Madisonville Police Dept. But his real desire was to become a Marine. He joined the USMC and had 5 months to go before he was due to come home. I decided to make a Memory T-Shirt Quilt to help Lowell's heartache heal. I gathered his t-shirts, badges, signatures from the guys he had served with and a Marine Corp Pillow Panel. It took me awhile to decide how I was going to put it all together.  Then in March 2012 while on duty State Trooper Lowell Russell's car was hit by a truck. The driver had fallen  asleep. His car was thrown into a concrete median and caught fire. With the Grace of God there were 2 other police cars and and EMT  in the area and Trooper Russell was pulled from car as it caught fire.  For weeks it was touch and go but now Lowell is in rehab and doing well. I presented "Tribute to a Hometown Hero" to Lowell on August 12 and he was so pleased but not as much as I was to see him smile. I hope it will help with his healing process in both his heart and body.  Lowell had help this young man become the best he could be. This will be the most rewarding quilt I have ever worked on and so proud to do. Spending life as a military wife and my hubby retiring from the USAF I know the sacrifices we might face.
Frankie Watson May Be Gone But Will Never Be Forgotten and Will Always Be our Hometown Hero! His Sacrifice was the Greatest!