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Nevilyn Quilt

Linda J. Huff
Algonquin, IL
35” x 41”
MSUM 2011:141.1
Photo by Pearl Yee Wong, all rights reserved Michigan StateUniversity Museum

This quilt celebrates the maker’s grandmother, Nevilyn, who was born in 1915 and was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1999.

Artist statement:
Nevilyn was born June 14, 1915, and she is my grandmother. She learned to sew because as a child she had rheumatic fever and was never allowed to do anything strenuous. In January of 1936 she married Jerry and they started their family. Mostly they worked and lived their lives, struggling through the tough times and rejoicing in the good times.

When it was time to retire, Grandpa hooked up a travel trailer to his truck and told Grandma they were going to visit all the places they had always wanted to see. If they did those things now, he insisted, when they got too old to travel at least they would have the memories of all that they had seen and done.

In 1999 Grandpa died. Then Grandma was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The woman sits in the nursing home today has no memories of friends or family or the special things that she and her husband did especially for this time in her life. Nevilyn was once lively and vibrant. In the end only a ghost of her former self remains.

There are 868 small squares in the border. They speak of so many things in my grandmother’s life: the fabric that she worked with to make clothes and quilts, her attention to small details, her desire that things be done the “right” way, and her love of color. They also symbolize all of her memories, funny stories, sad times, the trips she took, and all the things she has done. All the little pieces of her life are now lost to her forever.

1Sims, Ami. Alzheimer’s: Forgetting Piece By Piece. Mallory Press, 2007.

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