Quilted from the heart

Published 11:59 pm Monday, March 30, 2009

When Reba Hall came across fabric printed with pink breast cancer awareness ribbons, she knew she had to do something with it to promote Relay for Life.

But it took a few days to figure out that “something” was to convince her mother, Eva Rathel, to piece a quilt.

“She didn’t ask me,” Rathel said. “She just brought the material.”

Hall countered, “I knew she’d say ‘yes.’”

Hall is a member of the Southeast Alabama Gas District’s Relay for Life Team. Her team, she said, will probably raise $5,000 to $6,000 for the American Cancer Society event.

The quilt that Rathel pieced together also includes solid pinks and grays.

“The pink is the color for breast cancer awareness, and gray is included because of brain cancer,” Hall said.

Brain cancer is an issue near and dear to her family’s heart. Hall’s daughter-in-law, Cyndee Smith Hall, was diagnosed with a brain tumor two years ago.

“I’ve always been active in Relay, even before Cyndee got sick,” Hall said. “Now it has special meaning for me.”

Rathel, an active octogenarian who works full-time at Dean’s Cake House, said she considered several different patterns for the quilt before designing her own.

“It took me about three days to put it together,” she said, estimating that she first began making quilts 55 years ago. She has made countless quilts, including one with which her grandson assisted many years ago.

“It’s still got the stitches he made in it,” Rathel said. “Someone asked me if I was going to take them out and fix them, and I said, ‘No, and nobody else better not, either.’”

It was an Auburn quilt that has become a family heirloom. As soon as it was done, Rathel recalled, her grandson announced they couldn’t do another.

“The quilt frame didn’t leave him enough room to play,” Rathel recalled.

Once she finished piecing the top, she had someone else quilt it for her, and the quilting is done in heart shapes.

Both mother and daughter are selling chances on the quilt, which are $1 each or six for $5. They plan to draw the winning ticket on April 30th, and already, several people have asked to purchase similar quilts from Rathel.

“With the economy like it is, I wanted to come up with something different this year that would be affordable and also have a direct tie to cancer,” she said.

To purchase tickets, contact Hall at 428-2831 or 388-4116, or Rathel at 388-4366.

The SEAGD team also has held a Miss Noel pageant, a gourmet apple sale, and will host a fishing tournament this weekend.