“I think it’s a wonderful idea to put that quilt over them. It’s comforting. It’s just the feeling that you’re putting them to bed. Laying the quilt over them is like laying them to rest,” said Esther, 57, of Wharton, Ohio.
The pall quilt, stitched by Fairhaven volunteers nearly 40 years ago, is a symbol of compassion and wrapping it around residents after they pass away has become tradition at the United Church Homes community in Upper Sandusky.
Outside of the resident’s room, Fairhaven staff line the hallway on both sides, offer hugs and support to the family, and say goodbye to the resident one last time.
“(The quilt) was created in love and it’s used to symbolize the love we experience here,” said Rev. Becky King, chaplain at Fairhaven.
The largely white, 240-block quilt includes the words “Friends of Fairhaven” stitched in the center with the names of former residents and churches. The quilt was created by the community’s volunteers and raffled off as part of a fund-raiser.
It was dedicated to Fairhaven in 1998 and now hangs in the chapel. The quilt has been used as part of the community’s farewell ritual since 2016.
It first was wrapped around Sharon, 79, after she died April 11, 2016.
“I think it’s beautiful. It was beautiful the day they put it over her when she went,” Pam said. “I thought it was really, really nice. And for Mom to be the first was amazing.”
It later was wrapped around her husband, Oliver Karg Sr., 82, when he died Dec. 21, 2016, as part of a “farewell gathering.”
“It just makes you feel like they really care about them. It really means a lot to families,” said Esther, who added that her family also lost her brother just before her mother died.
Pam said she didn’t realize that her parents were so loved and appreciated by the Fairhaven staff.
“When everybody gathers around you, it’s very touching,” Pam said.
The quilt and farewell gathering for Richard “Dick” Adams, 81, who died in January, comforted Kathryn Adams, 82, of Tiffin, Ohio, and her family.
The quilt had a deeper meaning for Kathryn, who has a long history with United Church Homes and was a secretary for the Northwest Ohio Association (NWOA) of the United Church of Christ when the quilt was created.
Kathryn recognized the names of the volunteers and the churches embroidered in blue on the quilt. The staff lined up in the hallway also made the gathering special.
“It was overwhelming. It meant so much. It was so impressive. I can’t say enough about it,” Kathryn said.
Former Fairhaven volunteer Phyllis Diederich, 101, said the quilt is “something special” and a reminder of the volunteers and supporters who were there when it was created. For others, the quilt brings back memories of Fairhaven residents who are no longer with us, Becky said.
“It was created by the community and shows we are family,” Becky said.
Esther agreed. “It makes you feel good. We really appreciate that they were there. Some places you’re just a number. It’s not that way there (at Fairhaven).”