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The Daily



09-13-03: Quilt stitched with love comes full circle


The multicolored quilt with cross-stitched flowers and birds is Sally Eifert’s legacy to State of the Heart Home Health and Hospice.
Thousands of tiny, precise stitches attest to the Fort Recovery woman’s passion for quilting and commitment to perfection. She finished the ambitious project just days before her death in a January traffic accident.
Family members later brought the quilt to Patti Stahl, hospice bereavement specialist. The quilt would be the lone prize in a fund-raising raffle for the organization formerly known as Mercer County Hospice.
Nearly 2,000 tickets were sold during the ensuing months as the quilt occupied a place of honor at the hospice office or at festivals throughout the area.
The long-awaited drawing took place Sept. 5 in Coldwater. Joyce Schwieterman, who was among those in attendance, couldn’t wait to find out where her mother’s quilt was headed.
Stahl made sure the tickets were mixed over and over in the minutes leading up to the drawing. The honor of reading the winner’s name fell to Schwieterman. A look of surprise crossed her face and then a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. Tears quickly followed.
“Is it a good one?” Stahl asked.
“I think so. It’s my sister,” Schwieterman responded incredulously.
The name on the ticket was that of Connie Buschur, the oldest of Sally’s four daughters. She had purchased 18 tickets for the drawing that yielded $1,961.50 for hospice.
“I sold quite a few tickets and jokingly told someone I was going to win the quilt,” Buschur said. “Never, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine my ticket would be the one drawn. It’s still hard to believe. Mom must have had a hand in this.”
Stahl approached Sally two years ago and asked if she would make a quilt for the annual raffle. The outgoing woman with a ready smile agreed without hesitation. Settling on the pattern took considerably longer.
“I wanted something with lots of colors,” Stahl said. “We finally settled on Oriental sketch and Sally suggested the beautiful scalloped border.”
The Fort Recovery woman, known far and wide for her quilting prowess, seemed reluctant when Stahl broached the matter of the quilt’s value.
“You can’t begin to pay me for all the hours it will take,” she replied. After several inquiries, she grudgingly admitted $600 to $800 was the going rate for a handmade quilt. Accustomed to making quilts to please loved ones instead of to sell, she quickly changed the subject.
The project took two years instead of one due to some unexpected health problems. Son Dan Eifert and daughters Judy Post, Pauline Faller, Buschur and Schwieterman have special memories of their 81-year-old mother seated at the large quilt frame in the “good” living room. They remember the colorful design blossomed in her capable hands as radio music, Cincinnati Reds baseball games or television shows played in the background.
“Quilting became more than a hobby to Mom particularly during the winter months,” Schwieterman explained. “She always had a quilt in the frame and two or three in the works. However, she never let quilts get in the way of going out with friends, playing cards or attending school volleyball and basketball games.”
“Mom finished each and every quilt with love and a passion for perfection,” Faller said. “Everything had to be just so.”
She entered quilts in various competitions, often earning first-, second- and third-place honors. Then, as if embarrassed by the notable accomplishment, she would sit out a year or so.
Much like a proud mother displaying her newborn, Sally never tired of showing off quilts to visitors.
“She was a loving, caring person who thoroughtly enjoyed doing things for other people,” Dan Eifert said. “I don’t believe my mother ever met a stranger. She talked to everybody.”
The hospice quilt, as well as the quilt she helped make for the annual St. Joe Catholic Church festival, were not the only philanthropic activities she enjoyed. She and her husband, Ferd, used to take a camper to auctions. The money they raised from the sale of sandwiches, snacks, beverages and desserts benefited the Mercer County Community Hospital Auxiliary.
Quilting helped to fill the hours following his death in March 1997. She never ran out of projects with five children and 20 grandchildren. The children all had examples of her handiwork and so did most of the grandchildren. She had plans for more.
Time ran out shortly before noon Jan. 26 near her driveway along Ohio 119. The accident occurred en route home from Sunday morning Mass. She never heard the wail of responding sirens.
The family came to a quiet house later in the day. An empty chair stood at the quilt frame with a new project barely underway. The hospice quilt, which she had completed three days earlier, lay on a bed in the spare room.
“I saw Sally at a basketball game three days earlier,” Stahl said. “She told me ‘Patti, the quilt is done. Come and get it.’ I’ll never forget the look of satisfaction and happiness on her face. It is a memory I treasure.”
The children never considered keeping their mother’s final labor of love. It belonged to the organization that helps patients and families facing life-ending illnesses. They donated it in her honor.
“Oh my God,” a longtime family friend proclaimed upon hearing how the quilt has come back full circle. “Sally must have been up there looking down when the winning ticket was pulled.”
Family members agree wholeheartedly. They can almost hear her familiar warnings — “Be careful and remember you can’t put it anywhere. A quilt taken care of properly will last long after I’m gone.”


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