Joanne Wilson Lendaro

Me and HQ Celebrity

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As I prepared to write this year’s HQ Story entry, I knew I wanted to submit something different, something personal. I like to think that “different” is my style.  Last year, my entry was more about “why I do what I do,” and I explained how I view myself as an option for quilters to get their tops finished without having to feel the pressure of making a “show” quilt.  I enjoy working on quilts that aren’t so perfect, quilts that were made by the not-so-serious quilter.  With that being said, I am often given the opportunity and have worked on more than my fair share of “perfect” quilts.
I own an HQ Sixteen, now with a HQ Pro-Stitcher.  Without my machine, I would have never felt comfortable quilting for others.  Now I enjoy quilting for others and hearing the incredible stories behind their special quilts.  
This Year I reached out to see what others thought of my quilting services. I was interested in how they felt and what they thought about my quilting. I was surprised by the response that I received.  I got a few “thank you for quilting at such low prices,” but I wasn’t prepared for two stories from individuals whose lives I had touched in a ways I could have never imagined.  As quilters, we are given the opportunity to touch so many lives with our quilting and often never realize the impact that we may have.  I am humbled that what I considered to be an ordinary task could have moved someone else so deeply.
Here are the two stories:
I am the mom of five is my mantra and the most important thing I've done in my entire life. I've survived a lot and I've managed to earn a master's degree and become a nurse practitioner while working and raising those five kids. They were my cheerleaders, my support team, the ones who hugged me each time I reached a new level of success....they were my life.
In 2008 my number 4 child, my youngest son, woke up in acute liver failure. He required a liver transplant within 12 weeks. He had been completely healthy up to that point. During the process of the liver failure and the transplant my son's bone marrow also failed. After the liver transplant we thought we were home free but that was not to be. Ten weeks later my son developed a horrible infection in his colon and went into septic shock. This required emergency surgery to remove part of his colon and an ileostomy and life support for eight days. We survived that. Now the bone marrow failure became the major problem. This required twice weekly drives to Cedars Sinai for blood and platelet transfusions, a 100 mile round trip drive. There were multiple hospitalizations for infections and bowel obstruction and finally a reversal of the ileostomy after six months. My 21 year old son had had THREE major operations within 18 months.
I was going crazy and I was terrified. I had to quit my jobs in order to take care of my son. Every night I shared what was going on in my day with my scrapping groups. It was a way to pour out my pain and I received so much support. One day I received something in the mail. It was the most beautiful quilt and was signed by so many wonderful ladies. The quilt was made to show support for me and what I was going through. I sat down and bawled when I got it. I took it to work to show everyone. The fact that Joanne had somehow managed to put this together amazed me. It was so heartfelt and loving. It was just what I needed and she knew it. I still look at that quilt and feel so loved when I see it.
Joanne's support did not end after that quilt. After everything my son endured, his bone marrow failure converted to acute mylogenous leukemia, "A grim prognosis" as stated by his doctor. Dimitri died 10 weeks later of septic shock on 8/9/10 related to an infection in his lungs. Joanne continued to support me with her many email "hugs" and I appreciate it.
I can't thank her enough for the beautiful quilt and massive support and the funny thing is that I've known her for years on the inter net yet I've never met her in person. She is truly special!
Shirley is a wonderfully strong lady and her story reminded me that everyone quilts for different, usually very personal, reasons.  We often quilt to show support or to show that we care.  Quilters will work together to construct a quilt needed for someone or something special.
The second story I wasn’t prepared for was from Kurt:
Life - is.   And each life, here on earth, will end.   For us all.  Eventually.   We learn this slowly through living, and we may try to prepare ourselves for that eventuality... by living well, by making art or giving gifts, spending time with our parents, spending time with our children, spending a date with our spouse, by accepting a faith in a God, by....something. We just - do... It's the one bit of sanity that most of us do in this insane world - that we never speak of, or confront of directly in our selves. But one ending is something we are never prepared for. One ending contradicts all that we spend years striving towards. One ending sucks the air from your lungs, and pushes you to the ground with a force you've never seen. One ending leaves you waking each morning, for months on end,...listening for a stirring sound,...wondering if you've just awakened from the most horrible nightmare in your life. And then realizing that you are living that nightmare. That is the loss of a child. That time you spent - with the child, was for them to be able to deal with the ending of you, someday. Not the other way around. I lost my son, Noah, in 2009. He broke from of his earthly bonds in a sudden manner, slipping into a waterfall, merely feet from a loving cousin, and within yelling distance of his mother. He fell so suddenly that the turned head missed the slip, forcing the mind to think that he must have walked behind. He fell suddenly but in a place where recovering him could not be done without endangering others. He fell in a place where local rescue teams walked hours in Alpine pastures and woods looking for him ...and helicopters followed racing rivers looking for some sign of his body. But though his ending was definite...and refused to abide our prayers for his safe return, we would not get his body brought home for another 3 weeks or more.
Shattered, the mother, the family members and I went on.  We recognized a need to share our grief with the community. The church and his friends and their parents and our friends held us aloft for a time. The mind does not function. The heart is crushed...raw, torn, leaking life, wanting so much to stop, to rest, if it could.   Finally, Noah came home from afar. With his sacred, but battered human shell came large bills.  The bills were not excessive for what was done, but the efforts of so many searchers and so much equipment and expertise cost much. And the man who had wrapped him in a beautiful wooden box for the trip home, needed to be paid for the care he provided.   The church, once again, wrapped its love around us, holding an auction to pay for the bills.   A friend from my youth, Joanne Wilson Lendaro,
seeing that help was needed,
sent a call on her quilting blog,
explaining the need,
asking for quilted squares from readers,
defining the designing,
and pulling together a wondrous work of art - a beautiful quilt of hearts, of colors, of childhood objects. 
She and her readers worked magic in so little time.   Noah's mother and I looked at the gifted quilt with quiet awe.  The quilt immediately brought to mind treasured memories of our boy - of balloons, and M&Ms, of bright colored coats and clothes, his name in threaded color on this soft, lovely canvas.    It was as though Joanne and her group had sewn our memories into cloth. The coming together of so many hands, the stitching, the crafting - the gift of it all - and dedicated to our son, brought tears when we viewed it. Both of us desired so much to keep this for ourselves, but the gift was to be auctioned and the purchaser gave us a gift that we needed to repay those that helped bring our boy home.  The quilt brought one of the highest prices that night of the auction.  We needed the money greatly.  That night the people and the church raised $28,000 for our bills. It was beyond our belief that this could be It was done through the gifts of love and talent like this quilt for Noah.  Thank you, Joanne, for the art that you did, for the way that you created a gift from many, for the incredible, beautiful quilt

I received blocks for Kurts quilt from all over world.  It is amazing how this hobby can bring so many people together for a special cause. 
Here are a just four more of the many wonderful responses that I received:
Where do I begin about Joanne and her quilting!  Let’s see!  Joanne did a fabulous job on one of my quilts.  She took the time to teach me how to use her HQ so I could take the information and apply it to the system I had that was going unused.  I could finally use my system after it sat idle for too long.  She also volunteered to quilt our little quilting groups’ Quilts For Kids quilts for no charge.  I know others do those quilts for free, but do they also use their own batting, apply the binding and then mail them on to Quilts For Kids at no charge.  I doubt it! But Joanne does!  That is Joanne!  I am proud to call her one of my best friends! 
Rhonda P

I own the following HQ machines: HQ Pro-Stitcher, HQ Sixteen