By Janelle Bretz; edited by Stephanie Foster
A hug that’s always with you
Veronica Garcia’s love of quilting may be new—she taught herself via YouTube videos at the beginning of the pandemic after buying a sewing machine to make 100 masks—but her love of sewing and giving away her creations as gifts has always been part of her style. The first quilt she made was for her beloved grandmother, Isabel Garcia, who lived in memory care. Isabel was the one who taught Veronica to sew, and made her a favorite quilt when Veronica was a child. Veronica was able to give her dear grandmother the “charm-pack” quilt in person during a visit in April of 2020. Only window visits were allowed after that, but Veronica and her family took comfort in seeing that her grandma always had her quilt with her in her wheelchair until she passed away in October of that year.
“A quilt is a hug that’s always with you,” Veronica shares with a smile. “We only have people for finite amounts of time, but when you make something for a person, it extends memories and then becomes an heirloom.” Her grandma always wore sweaters, so after she passed, Veronica made two quilts from squares of her sweaters and gave them to her two sisters for Christmas last year.
Veronica’s grandmother was married at an early age, and had eight children. To help clothe them, she learned to sew. She taught the other seamstresses in the family, including Veronica’s aunts and herself. Veronica will always remember her grandmother helping her to sew her very first dress for a dance at school. In thinking about those special moments, Veronica says that she gets her laugh from her grandmother. “We would always try to make my grandmother laugh. It wasn’t easy. But, when my grandmother would start laughing, she could not stop. It’s the same for me, when we start laughing, we just can’t stop!”
Honoring a family legacy
It was a no-brainer for Veronica to join The Longest Day (TLD) event when she learned about it since participants can do anything they love to raise awareness and funds for the Alzheimer’s Association. “I’m already giving love by making my quilts, so it was natural to make a special one for TLD to get some eyes on, and some dollars to, the Alzheimer’s Association.”
Veronica created a custom quilt to raffle off. The quilt incorporated purple (the Alzheimer’s Association’s signature color) squares supplied by friends and family. Anyone who donated $20 or more was eligible to win her creation. On June 20, Veronica drew a winner—her uncle, Tano.
“He was so happy to get it. I’m glad he won, because he was diagnosed with epilepsy at young age and my grandmother helped take care of him for so many years. He’s now in adult foster care, so it was special that he now has the quilt with him that I made in her memory,” says Veronica.
Celebrating The Longest Day
Veronica admits she didn’t know much about the Alzheimer’s Association when her grandmother was living with the disease. But as she became aware of all that the organization does, she knew she wanted to be involved to help spread awareness.
It was more fun than she realized it would be to participate. “I was so surprised by how simple it was to be part of TLD. The setup was user friendly and integrated with social media, so it made it a piece of cake to participate. I raised over $500 with my quilt raffle!” Veronica feels that, “sharing with friends and family helps to keep her memory alive, as we get closer to the first anniversary of her passing, this October.”
To learn more about The Longest Day, which occurs each year around the summer solstice and includes people doing everything from hikes and tennis matches to crafts to puzzle-making and writing projects…and, of course, quilting, go to alz.org/TLD