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Thursday, 4 July 2013

Things I Love Thursdays

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.

xo
one of your many admirers and friends,
Monika

ps - please read Heather Lair's bio here on her website... it's amazing!  : )

31 comments:

marshaleith said...

I am saddened too. I met Heather on the WAVE tour last year I believe(maybe 2011)...she was so nice and friendly. And her work was beautiful too. I have one of her fabric landscape postcards...it hangs on the wall beside my sewing machine so I can be inspired by it always.

Kim Jamieson-Hirst said...

Oh, Monika, I was so sorry to hear of Heather's passing. I read about this through Arlee Barr here in Calgary. I didn't know Heather, but she sounds like she was an amazing person and a talented artist as well. I'm glad that you had time with her and I'm sure you will treasure that time and her artwork that you have. Take care.

Terry Jones said...

Monika, you are so fortunate to have had an opportunity to spend precious time with Heather. I know you will honor her memory by continuing with your enthusiasm and talent. God speed.

B J Elder said...

What a special lady! Those friendships are few, but oh so special. What a blessing you were able to be with her just a few weeks ago. And oh the memories you will carry with you throughout your lifetime. Sending you hugs of comfort.

Terri said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your loss, Monika. She was a beautiful person, she made beautiful things, and now that you shared her with us we will miss her, too.
There will be tears and a certain amount of anger...natural parts of morning, but you will always have a beautiful friendship to remember.
Hugs

Riel Nason said...

I am so sorry Monika. What a beautiful post you have written in her memory.

Flo @ Butterfly Quilting said...

so sorry Monika, it sounds like you had a wonderful connection.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this beautiful reflection - good to know who's tears are mingling with mine in the heavenly places where tears are collected...
sherry

Josette Guerin said...

tres émue de votre article je vous souhaite courage et me dis que vous avez eu la chance de la cotoyer
amicalement jojo

Sheila said...

A very touching tribute to a very talented lady ,I loved her work and in her work you could see that this was indeed a kind and loving soul, it really sadens me to know she is no longer with us even though I never had the pleasure to meet her . May God rest her soul and give her family strength in this most difficult time .

Michelle V. Alkerton, mixed media artist said...

I'm so very sorry Monika. Thank you for sharing this beautiful woman through your grief. (((HUGS)))
Stay inspired! (I'm sure Heather would have said the same)

Anonymous said...

Awe Monika!! I'm so sad for you and for Heather!! Thank you letting us get to know her through your memories.
Big hugs!!
Joyce

sherry said...

i am sorry for your lose...her spirit lives on in those who knew her including you...she did say goodbye you just did not know that when she did...she passed the torch by giving you the embroidery floss...that was her saying goodbye my friend...

Rachel Biel said...

What a beautiful tribute, Monika! And, thanks for explaining more about what happened. I felt like a rug had been pulled out from under me last night. But, now that I think about it, if I had to chose how to go, Heather's exit is ideal: at home with loved ones, no prolonged misery in a hospital, melting away into skin and bones.... I wonder how much pain she was feeling and what exactly caused her death. But, like you, I am going to focus on the delight of knowing her. How fortunate you were to have that special time!

Big hug!

PrairiePeasant said...

I was very saddened to hear this news. You were lucky to have spent some precious time with her recently. I connected with her only by email and how you described her came through in her emails too. Very gracious and generous. I am grateful to have seen her work in person even though I never got to meet her in person. My heart goes out to you.

HollyM said...

It saddened me to read of the loss of such a spirited lady and gifted quilter. This is a wonderful touching piece that you've written with such honesty.
I'm sorry not to have known her and I'm very sorry for your loss. It's sad to think of the loss of all that creativity but she has left a real legacy to the quilt world and to your own family as well.

Suztats said...

I'm so sorry, Monika, to read that your friend has passed away. She sounds like a wonderful lady. Hugs

Brenda said...

I took a class with her a few years back and she was lovely in so many ways. A week ago I was in the Gimli quilt shop and I admired some of her printed postcards there. so sorry for your loss.

Jackie said...

Now I am balling my eyes out... what a wonderful tribute Monika!

Threadpainter said...

Dear Monika ... my condolences on losing such a wonderful friend.
I didn't know her, nor her work, but after reading your lovely tribute, I wish I had known her, too.
It's a wonderful thing when someone this special touches your life ... treasure her gifts.

Laureena Braatz said...

Hi Monika,
I'm sure your friendship was as precious to Heather as hers was to you. My heart goes out to you and Heather's family too.
Louise

Mimi said...

Heather was incredible woman, wife, mother, friend and artist... your tribute to her is endearing and loving. You have shared her with us and that is a gift in itself - thank you! You are fortunate to have known her personally - treasure those memories and the gifts she had given you.

Jennifer Scantlebury Vienneau said...

Hopefully by recording your feelings and sharing these words you will find some relief in your loss. I recently lost my Mom, also a very talented and gifted soul, in much the same way and like your friend, her dignity and grace in passing still amazes me. People who deal with extreme adversity this way are so very special with much for us to learn from them. You are so lucky to have had her as your friend.

Margaret said...

My friend arlee wrote about Heather earlier today, so this is my second message of condolence. I am so sorry to hear of her passing -- not having even heard of her before today, but realizing she must have been a very special person.

I lost my husband almost 7 years ago..so I have walked in her husband's shoes...it is not an easy walk.

May God bless him and their children and all who knew her...and may her legacy carry on.

brenda said...

I am so sorry to hear this news. I have seen many of her quilts in shows and they were always fabulous,what a loss to the quilting world and her family.

arlee said...

I never met Heather, but she *did* think of other people even during *her* tough times--she kindly donated to my "flood relief" just days before she passed on----i will never forget her act of kindness in what must have been a tough time.......thank the heavens for people like Heather.

Juanita said...

I am shocked and saddened to hear of Heather's death. I didn't know her personally but followed her successes on our online quilt group. From her comments there, she seemed like she had a kind gentle soul (and I think I would have liked her politics). She was on my list of quilt artists I would like to meet someday. Last week I lost a friend whose photos inspired my work (yesterday was his memorial) so I guess I was already feeling sad when I read your very touching tribute to Heather. The tears are flowing as I write. What a loss to her family, friends and to the quilt world.

Giddings Art said...

I never had the pleasure of meeting Heather, but I feel that I know her through your beautifully written post. What a precious friendship you shared! I know you will miss her terribly but she will live in your heart and memories forever.

Jeito Mineiro de Ser said...

Vendo o olhar e o sorriso tão doces da Heather temos certeza que ela está agora, tecendo lindos trabalhos com fios de nuvens e de luz!
Abraço você com carinho!
Egléa

Seeing the look and smile so sweet Heather we are sure that she is now weaving beautiful works wired clouds and light!
Embrace you with love!
Egléa

Robert L. Peters said...

Thanks Monika. Very nicely stated...

CitricSugar said...

So sorry for the loss of your friend and such a great artist! She will be missed.

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