In celebration of family this Christmas, I'd like to shine a little light on a brilliant and talented creator who's near and dear to me. This month's Creator Spotlight is about my mama. Mom has always loved to sew and quilt, and - through the years - she made numerous dresses, skirts and pants for me as a child, occasion and other dresses for her granddaughters and their dolls, and quilts for her grandkids. Sadly, I did not inherit the sewing gene. Patience is a virtue, though, and she keeps trying to teach me.
Memories that produce chuckles from me and my brothers are photos of my mom and I clad in fashions of the 70s. Gorgeous pieces, mind you. But, that era! I still remember the Christmas picture of my dad in his clerical collar suit (pastor attire) and sideburns, my three brothers in matching Partridge Family digs and a Christmas ensemble Mom made for us - the girls of the family. Mom, looking like a moviestar, was clad in a glorious long Carol Brady dress with empire waist and full 3/4 length sleeves that she'd sewn for herself and me in an adorable little girl version.
My mom was Wonder Woman. Honestly. She coined the term "multi-tasking". I'm sure of it. Busy wife of a minister, church choral director, singer, pianist, and organist, Mom also worked odd jobs here and there while we were little. After attending nursing school night classes, she began her career in nursing in the Chicago suburbs in the late 1970's. She started out working the 3:00 - 11:00 p.m. shift as a hospital floor nurse. A couple of years later, she moved on to become the nurse of an internist for twelve years, giving her a schedule that was better suited for family life.
Back then, doctors' offices consisted of a switchboard operator, one or two front office staff, and a registered nurse (RN), sometimes licensed practical - nurse (LP-N). Medical records personnel would come around with their cart of medical files, that would get transported all over creation and shared with many. (Oh, how times have changed! And, I mean, don't drop a paper from the stack, or that lab result is just GONE. ; ) Mom served as nurse, administrative assistant, scheduler, and personal transport - all in one. And, all managed from a tiny little 4' x 2.5' desk piled high with charts and sticky notes. Everywhere. I remember walking to her office after sports practices. I would sit on a little wheeled doctor's stool next to her desk - completely blocking Dr. Holmes' office door. SOMEHOW, she managed to do her work with me sitting there annoying her - ahem, I mean, keeping her company. ; ).
At age 55, Mom decided to get her Masters degree from the University of Kansas Medical Center in psychiatric nursing, and switched gears to work in the mental health field in 1993. Her specific focus was addressing depression that can occur in conjunction with chronic illness. Mom posed that, If not treated, patients might struggle with successful management of their chronic illness. This *phenomenon hadn't been studied extensively at that time. Mom's academic advisors told her she was "cutting edge" for that medical model. For a more recent look into her focus of study: how physical illness affects mental health, the reverse phenomenon, and more mental health insights from the National Institute of Mental Health, CLICK HERE . The Canadian Mental Health Association published THIS article with an in-depth look into how the two types of illness co-exist and contribute to each other.
Always supportive of every one of my endeavors, Mom has been my cheerleader since Care By Air launched last year. Most recently, however, she began sewing COVID masks, and I just knew I wanted to incorporate them into the shop! Mom takes such care in creating the masks. She uses quilt fabric, which has a higher thread count (180-250), less chemical additives, and is less prone to shrinkage (up to 1-3%). She sews the masks double-ply accordion-style with a nifty little pocket inside for a PM2.5 filter, and finishes them with a 1/8" thick strand of elastic to loop around the ears. I've pilfered many of the masks she's made for the shop because they're so comfy and hold their shape, and I love the patterned fabric. Find Mom's handmade masks (pictured below) in the Men's and Women's Holiday Care Packages on Etsy. They'll also take the place of the black packaged masks in the Men's Pandemic and Women's Pandemic Packages after the New Year.