I would like to tell you the story of my dear friend and hero Carol Nelson.
Carol and I met when we were both pursuing careers in the insurance industry. My first day on the job I noticed this girl staring and smiling at me. At the end of the work day she came over and said, "I know you have noticed me looking at you all day and I just wanted to let you know why. I am just so glad this company has hired someone as tall as me!" So began a 35 year friendship that still endures today.
Carol went on to become the Senior Fraud Investigator for the company and I went onto a career in the United States Postal Service.
In February of 2003 Carol was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma at the age of 49.
Surgery was performed in May 2003 to remove a very large tumor from her stomach. The worst case scenario was to remove the entire stomach. We received the worst case scenario. I remember her mother-in-law asking the surgeon, "what does this mean?" He replied, "it means she has a very challenging road ahead of her." Thus began the fight for her life!
After spending a few weeks in the hospital she faced chemotherapy, intravenous feedings, nausea, diarrhea, loss of hair and many more challenging health issues. She lost about 60 pounds. The doctor said it would take up to 2-3 years for her other organs to get used to not having the stomach.
One weekend I invited her to a quilt show in town. We were able to attend but I had to take her home early because she was so ill. I remember that afternoon sitting in my car and watching her go into her house. I sat there in her driveway and prayed to God, please don't take her.
I think by attending that quilt show I motivated her to get back into quilting. It was a craft that she and I both had grown to love.
Little by little she started to feel stronger and before long was creating samples for the quilt store (The Cotton Patch) in Keizer, Oregon. At the same time she was still trying to go back to work at her job. A job that she truly loved. She kept encountering obstacles along the way. The last obstacle was the deciding factor. She cut off the end of her finger with a rotary cutter finishing up a quilting project. She went to the emergency room and they ended up sewing the tip back on. She went into work that next Monday. Her boss called her into his office and said, "Carol your life is so much more important than this job." "You need to retire." Lucky for the quilting world she took his advice!
A few days after her retirement she called me and said, "guess what I just did?" (I didn't have a clue) I just purchased the HQ Sixteen from Whitlock’s Sewing and Vacumn Center. Brothers Lyn and Todd McPherson own Whitlock's in Salem Oregon and they represent HQ wonderfully! Todd came to Carol's house and set up her machine for her. Thus began Carol's second career.
One of Carol's first quilting projects after she got her HQ Sixteen was to enter a contest sponsered by Hancock Fabrics for St. Jude's Children's hospital. Carol felt this was a good way to give back. After all she knew firsthand the fear these children must have, by being a cancer patient herself. In the attached photo you can see she won the Blue Ribbon. This quilt was donated and was absolutely beautiful.
Carol started doing all the samples for the quilt shop. Today you can see all of her beautiful creations hanging on every wall at the Cotton Patch. Her work is absolute perfection. She is also very busy with her quilting business. She has customers drop off quilts everyday at the shop. She teaches applique and quilting techniques a few days each month at the shop. Seven years later she is thriving.
Three years ago she called me at work and said, "I know you have talked about doing this business when you retire, but could you do it now?" "I have gotten so busy that I just can't keep up.”
Secretly, I had yearned to do it. I had lost interest in my job and just wanted to make my life a little more stress free. I told her I would love to but I was paying off my daughter's wedding and I just didn't see how I could afford the machine. She responded, "I talked this over with Randy (her husband) and tomorrow you and I are going to Whitlock's and purchase your new machine." I couldn't believe it.
A week later my brand new HQ Sixteen machine was delivered. Carol helped me set it up. She referred some customers to me and with a little practice I was off on a new adventure. The Cotton Patch promotes my business and another shop in Salem, Greenbaum's Quilted Forest also promotes my business. I was on my way in my second career.
One thing I have noticed in this business is you meet the NICEST people, positive and loving people.
I am so grateful to be part of it.
Late last year I was able to make a life changing career move. I was able to leave a very stressful job and begin a new phase in my life. A full time quilting career! I love it! I am so thankful for this opportunity.
I know Carol would be the first one to say, if quilting had not come into her life that she would most likely have been dead by now. She has been such a positive inspiration for me and others that she continues to amaze me. I've never known anyone like her in my life. She has amazing faith and has been the best friend anyone could ask for. They say there are angels among us. I have living proof, my dear friend Carol.
I would like to give HQ credit for helping make changes in both our lives. My friend's life has been saved and mine has been enhanced. We both thank you!!!!!!!!!!!
P.S. I have my eye on the HQ Pro-Stitcher
I own the following HQ machine: HQ Sixteen