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Dying Grandmother Finishes Last Gifts with Help from Hospice

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Photo Credit: Michael Rolands

Story originally published by The Des Moines Register.

Carolyn Sheets was recognized as a “champion of kindness.” She was actively involved in organizing both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts fundraising drives, she volunteered at her local church, she spent much of her time crafting, and she was an admirable presence in her family’s life. So when Carolyn was diagnosed with brain cancer, her and her loved ones’ lives came to a screeching halt.

The 57-year-old Indianola, Iowa, resident began making quilts for her grandchildren so that they would have something to show how loved they are by their grandmother. Carolyn hadn’t always been a sewer, but took up the art solely to make quilts for her granddaughters. She was able to finish one and start another before she became too weak and was moved into Hospice care. With the help of her daughter, Johanna MacKenzie, and a kind volunteer, Carolyn’s quilts hadn’t seen the end of their days just yet.

“The first time I met Johanna’s mom I leaned down and said, ‘Carolyn, I’m going to finish your quilt’,” Earlene Ginter, an HCI Hospice Care Services volunteer, told The Des Moines Register. “Her eyes kind of opened and she got a bit of a smile, so when I was working on this that was always there.”

Earlene finished the second quilt and even made a third one in case a third grandchild ever comes along. The family found pieced triangles and squares, different fabric strips, and tons of fabric from Carolyn’s collection. These items were used in both quilts—the squares in the second quilt with a rickrack border, and the strips in the third quilt.

Though Carolyn is no longer here in person, her spirit lives on through the three quilts.  

“Having a quilt, I think, is a chance for my daughters to be wrapped up in her love and have something physical they can hold onto to know that my mom really loves them very, very much,” Johanna said. “And it shows them she was so proud to be their grandma.”