Family gives thanks after emotional fabric sale

When Rhoda Fisher's lifelong collection of quilting material left the Fuji Park Exhibition Hall with shoppers over the weekend, her daughter Syd McKenzie watched with mixed emotion.

"It's been incredibly hard to let Mom's things go," she said tearfully.

But family friend Marie Bresch helped put the sale in perspective.

"Look, Syd," she said. "A little part of your mom is going out into the world with each of those crafters and quilters. She's going to be a part of 1,000 different projects in loving homes from here to eternity."

Rhoda Fisher's quilting career of almost 80 years is over. She lives in a long-term care facility in Reno, where she receives treatment for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. The Saturday and Sunday sale raised more than $8,000, which was split evenly between 4-H, that helped run the sale, and Fisher's family.

The hundreds of people who lined up for the sale were a testament to the impact she has had on the community, said McKenzie. She is working on a book called "Remembering Rhoda," which tells some of the stories connected to her mother's quilts.

Her mother's quilts are special, she said, "because you can take them and wrap yourself up in them and be held by her."

Rhoda Fisher's husband, Chas, also staffed the sale.

"She is as close to perfect as anyone I've ever come across," he said of his wife. "I'm sure she had faults, but I never did see any."

Dealing with his wife's sickness has been heartbreaking, he says, but there have been bright spots. While Alzheimer's makes it hard for Rhoda to recognize family members, she looked Chas in the eye on his birthday and said, "Happy Birthday, Charlie," with a smile.

That's the best birthday present I ever got," he said.

Several groups have inquired about any leftover fabric from Fisher's collection, said Jill Tingey, 4-H Program coordinator with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. The Carson City stake of the Latter-day Saints Church plans to make dresses for youth in Third World countries, English as a second language teacher Gail Struble plans to offer an ESL sewing class, and 4-H dog club member Kathryn Opperman, 13, wants to make pillows for Advocates to End Domestic Violence.

Projects like that help the legacy of Rhoda Fisher live on, says her daughter. Like the circles in a double-wedding-ring or trip-around-the-world quilt, the cycles of histories and futures continue, she said.

"In high school, I quilted with my mom, and now that my own kids are in high school, I'm still dealing with these same projects," she said.

McKenzie says her mother always believed she would finish every project she started or gathered fabric for -- a collection which filled her two-car garage on Green Acres Drive in Indian Hills from ceiling to floor.

"Maybe now, with help from all these crafters, she can finish them all," McKenzie said.

You Can Help

To add to "Remembering Rhoda," a collection of stories connected Carson's "Queen of Quilting," mail stories and photos to:

Remembering Rhoda

P.O. Box 3496

Carson City, NV 89702


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