A quilt of many memories
A quilt of many memories
Posted on 07/08/2016

The baby blankets boxed up in Heather Postma’s basement weighed heavily on her mind for years. She had some good memories of her four kids, holding the little bundles of joy in her arms. But it was the sad memories of her two sons who died in infancy that she just couldn’t bear to face. Heather Postma sewing

So she went about her life on her journey to recovery. She watched her two girls turn into beautiful young women and tried to put those sad memories to rest. But as long as those baby blankets were in the basement, so too were the memories of the two boys she never got to see grow up. 

When Heather first moved to her current home 16 years ago, she lacked confidence and a voice of her own. It’s been years of hard work with the encouragement of her peers and staff to get her to where she is. None would have been possible without homeowners Tonya and Trevor Dowling and their belief in Heather’s abilities. 

When my colleagues and I visited the house, it struck me immediately that this is a home. We’re greeted at the entrance by a friendly resident, and as we enter the home you can just feel the comfort and friendliness. Everyone we encounter is happy to see us and eager to share a short story or anecdote. In the kitchen, residents gather around the island as a staff member prepares lunch. It reminds me of home.

Through the back door we can see the cottage where Heather lives, which is next to the main house. The peaceful surroundings are what these folks wake up to every day. 

Heather Postma with her quiltAccording to Tonya, Heather is not the same person that came through her doors 16 years ago. It’s been years of hard work and Heather has taken full advantage of the services offered, including participating in Wellness Recovery Action Plan training and dialectical behaviour therapy through the local Community Mental Health Association.

According to recreationist Darlene, who works with Heather, “she is a positive influence on her peers and helps them out, she’s very thoughtful.” Heather also gives credit to Barb, a previous recreationist with whom she is still friends despite Barb having moved out of the province.

It was a suggestion from Darlene that first planted the seed in Heather to make a quilt with her baby blankets. Knowing how difficult those memories were for Heather, it started with a gentle nudge as a way to finally face the past. And Darlene was the perfect person to help Heather through this talk, herself a grieving mother.

And so, the two mothers set to work. As they dug out the blankets, Heather struggled a bit as she realized years of being boxed up in the basement had taken its toll on the fabric. Stains and dirt had set in, but Darlene is resourceful and with a little elbow grease, brought the fabric back to its former glory. 

Together the two worked over the next several months to carefully preserve one blanket which would serve as the anchor to the quilt, and design and cut the rest of them to create the perimeter. Now that it’s almost complete, Heather says “When the fabric was in the bags, it was sad, now it brings me happiness.”

The only thing left to do now is embroider all the children’s names on the quilts. Her daughters haven’t seen it yet, but they have already had a friendly argument over which one of them will get to take it home. Heather says “Neither of them are getting it. It’s really special to me and I’m keeping it.” Heather’s daughters won’t be totally left out, though, because she plans to quilt pillows for each of them using the remainder of the baby blankets for this project. 

Proud of her progress, not just with the quilt but in her journey in life Heather says “At the beginning, it was a burden but now it gives me hope.”