Published on May 09, 2018

Community Memorial Quilt draws praise during recent unveiling

Clara Mae Aycock of Princeton loved Christmas. And every year, without fail, she cooked up collards and rutabagas as part of a festive family meal.

At the unveiling of the Community Memorial Quilt on April 29, Aycock’s five grown children fondly recalled those sweet memories, and pointed to the quilt swatch taken from an apron that their mother wore only at the Christmas gatherings.

“It was always a big celebration, and her favorite time of the year,” says Ann Potter, a daughter who lives in Goldsboro. “The quilt brings back such a rush of memories. It’s a wonderful way to remember them with love.”

As part of the Community Memorial Service every fall, families bring fabric swatches that best represent their lost loved ones. Oftentimes, they include special requests to the volunteers who will make the quilt.

This year, the Jo Co Quilters, an Extension and Community Association club, took on the challenge. And when the five quilters took the stage and unveiled their handiwork, the crowd oohed and aahed at the design: A tree of life with heart-shaped leaves, and the lines from the popular hymn, “Amazing Grace,” stitched into the border.

“It is amazing, and so beautiful,” said Renae Tyner of Selma, whose mother-in-law was represented on the quilt. “It’s a long-lasting legacy for our loved ones.”

Marielle Cano of Four Oaks, one of the quilters, described the club’s creative process as controlled chaos. “There was lots of give and take,” she says.

It was Judy Garner of Selma who found just the right woodgrain fabric for the tree, and Gina Ross of Smithfield who free-style stitched (with her quilting machine) the lyrics of the song. “It was one of those ideas that fell in my lap,” she says. “Amazing Grace gets played everywhere.”

In the end, all five of the ladies did their part in making the quilt artful, thoughtful and memorable. On the back, there’s even a list of the 49 people whose lives are celebrated on the quilt.

The quilt and the memorial service are an outreach of Johnston Health Home Care and Hospice and the SECU Hospice House. The quilt will hang in an alcove at the north end of Johnston Medical Mall. But it may not be there for long. There’s a plan to build a special display case at the hospice house. More than 100 people attended the unveiling, which was in the auditorium of the medical mall. In closing the ceremony, the Rev. Greg McClain, who is the director of volunteers and spiritual care at Johnston Health, shared a comment he heard during a recent funeral service. “The last word isn’t death,” he said. “It’s love.”

Pictured top right: The Jo Co Quilters, an Extension and Community Association Club, took on the Community Memorial Quilt as a project this year for Johnston Health. Days before the unveiling, they presented the quilt to Wanda Johnson (third from left), the hospice volunteers coordinator for Johnston Health. From left to right, the club members are: Judy Garner of Selma, Marielle Cano of Four Oaks, Louise Rose of Stancil’s Chapel, Laura Grantham of Smithfield, and Gina Ross of Smithfield.