I love Heather.
Heather Lair - Canadian quilter, teacher, landscape artist, and hand quilter. I met her online about three years ago. We became fast friends. We traded postcards. I think that's how we met. She doesn't blog, but she has a website, FB, and etsy site. In three years, we have passed so many letters back and forth via the internet. Heather is such a kind, generous, and joyful person. If we weren't oogling about thread and fabric, we were bitching about politics. Heather is one woman with her head on her shoulders... with a fantastic old fashioned hippie flair if I do say so myself. Oh- and might I point out that she is one of the most adorable women on earth with the cutest smile EVER.
|from her web page|
We clicked on the topic of prairie sky - which we loved to talk about by the way (go figure). Heather is known for her inset prairie landscapes in large wall quilts full of modern to Celtic designs, and for her big-stitch hand quilting. Heather wrote me some A M A Z I N G professional support letters for applications I was trying for - she was an admired mentor for me though she treated me like a close friend. I am ever grateful to her.
You know that during my second trip to Winnipeg this summer, I stayed in Gimli, MB with Heather & Rickey Lair in their home. She said she wasn't feeling well and had some appointments the first time I landed in Winnipeg at the beginning of May. She left me her fabulous hand dyed fabric, a journal with her custom quilt cover, and a birthday card at the bookstore for me to pick up. She is always sending me things - fabric, stickers of her art images, little presents. She was such an open and no-problem kind of person. She was SO comfortable and inspiring to be around.
I finally met Heather in person at the beginning of June of this year! She graciously invited me and my sons to stay at her place in the small waterfront town of Gimli. She said she was taking painkillers while she waited for some test results, but begged for us to stay with her anyway. We did. I wasn't sure it was the right thing, but she was so positive about having company. To my amazement, she was even more lovely and sweet in person... the most down to earth person you'll ever hope to meet. She was excited to have us and had lots of food and activities planned. Unfortunately, her pain medication really wiped her out. She napped a lot, but her wonderful man Rickey took us for a walking / bicycle tour down the big beach and through the museum.
|Rickey Lair and my boy Liam - June 2013|
We dined on wonderful local Chinese take-out later that night. Heather is so ... pleasant. I do not know how else to explain it. She's so laid back and everything is always good. I have never seen her in a grumpy mood (if you don't count how many posts she shared on facebook about what a jackass she thinks our prime minister is). lol There was one time though... while I visited - she was upset. I was only there one overnight. It was late... we had chatted our hearts out and we were ready to call it a night. Heather shifted and became determined, "I must show you my wedding dress! It's the one thing I want you to see. You must see it." So Heather, I, and Rickey headed up to the attic that was filled with boxes of all sizes. There were piles and piles and deep at that. 'Where is it!' she asked with frustration. We looked and looked and dismantled piles of boxes for a while. Rickey and I both suggested we try again in the morning, but no - Heather would not have it. She was serious, and agitiated - and we all had to keep looking. Finally one of us found it (I don't recall whom - it might have been Heather). That cute smile was planted back on her face and we headed out of the attic to open the box in her studio.
There it was. Heather beamed as she opened the box. In it, a cream colored short silk dress with petal cut skirt - all hand embroidered with cream silk embroidery floss. She said it took her all summer to make it.
|the wedding dress of Heather Lair, made by Heather by hand.|
I wondered why she would be so adamant to show me something so personal. I suppose she wanted to show off the embroidery to me - it was sooo much hand work. Now looking back, I think it was more than that. In the box, she had the rest of the unused silk embroidery floss. She pulled a bunch out and said, 'here. Take it'. Are you kidding? She gave me paper postcards with her art on them - two of everything! Then she handed over a bag full of lucky stones from the beach that she had collected over the years. Those were for my boys. She kept giving us things. She's always been generous - but she seemed determined about it this time.
It's 2:30 in the morning right now. i've been crying for two hours. I was off to bed when I did that - you know - one last look at email. There it was. An email saying that Heather died today (Wednesday July 3). Heather is gone. Rickey - that equally sweet kind man - is alone now. Her young adult children ...
|where Heather stitched her quilts... photo June 2013|
I cry. I can't stop crying for them and for her. She made such an impression on me. I can't imagine how her community and especially her husband and children must feel right now. As it turns out, she went to bed happy with her family all home, but seh never woke up the next morning. I was told it was from a heart attack.
I feel like she is GONE. gone gone. And SO fast! I was with her four weeks ago. How can her spirit just vanish? There was no warning. No time for goodbye. At the same time, as I ponder her, I realize she is everywhere. Her quilts are everywhere. Her postcards are at homes all around the world. She taught at Quilt Canada and won awards there too. Her wedding dress silk is here beside me, tacked up on my design wall. Her art stickers are on my sewing machine. Her winter postcard is on my shelf. Those stones from the beach are outside scattered all over our front step. Her cards are in my purse. Her birthday journal gift is here beside me.
Dear Heather - You certainly shone right until the end. We would have given anything to ease your pain and suffering that you hid so well. Please know this - we will never forget you. We will always love you. And lucky you! With a face like that... even strangers will take one look and decide that they should miss you very much too. : )
(I hope you giggled over that one.)
|Heather & me in front of her beautiful home that Rickey built. Photo June 2013.|
Heather Lair passed away in her sleep unexpectedly, in the early hours of Wednesday, July 3, 2013. Rickey and her children were all with her in their beautiful home in Gimli, Manitoba. My heart goes out to the family :( You will NEVER be forgotten Heather.
one of your many admirers and friends,
ps - please read Heather Lair's bio here on her website... it's amazing! : )