(11-17-21) Not many people can say they have a “quilt factory” in their home. But if you ask Pat Meikle, she will tell you this is exactly what she has converted the upstairs of her home into, allowing her more space when creating her works of art. Pat, 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 Pat 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, Pat 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, Pat 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.”  Over the years, she has donated over 400 quilt tops to various charities. Pat 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. Pat’s pieces are even more unique and one-of-a-kind because she uses recycled material scraps and fabric remnants that local community members donate to her cause. 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 Pat in completing her more recent quilt.

A History of Giving
Pat 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.” 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. Pat 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.” 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, Pat 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.

The Importance of Hospice
A few years later, Pat’s own mother became ill and needed extra care in her home. At the same time, Pat’s brother Mike had just moved to New York. However, knowing their mother needed someone to be with her, he moved back home and cared for her for five years. With Pat’s previous time spent caring for her father-in-law, she knew they would likely need additional help for her mother when her health continued to decline. Hospice care was slowly becoming available in some areas, and Pat knew this could help benefit her mother. Pat’s mother was on hospice for just a few short weeks, but that was all it took for her to see how much of a blessing it was on their family. 

This would not be the last time that Pat would find the importance of hospice care. 

Pat’s husband, Bill, has the heart of a caregiver just like Pat. His first wife, Mary, had cancer, and he was known in the community for how well he treated her. This inspired Pat to offer this same love and support to Bill when he became ill. For four years, Pat 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.

Pat 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,” Pat shared. 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.” 

Your Chance to Win
EverHeart Hospice will be featuring Pat and Janet’s beautiful 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, January 3rd on EverHeart Hospice’s Facebook page as well as notified by phone. If you have any questions, please contact Erica Wood, Business Development Specialist, at 800-417-7535 option 6 or ewood@ehhospice.org.