Of hearts and hands: A former quilter completes her heirlooms with help from friends

Of hearts and hands: A former quilter completes her heirlooms with help from friends

SALISBURY — It’s amazing what one person’s hands can do.  Over the course of her 90-odd years, Dorothy McLaughlin’s hands have cradled two children, four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. They have graded countless student exams, sketched the plans for her family home, led worship on the organ and piano and lovingly constructed numerous quilts, stitch by stitch.    But much has changed over the past few years.  “My doctor told me I had to stop quilting to preserve the use of my fingers,” McLaughlin said.  So she packed away the last few quilt tops she’d made, unsure whether they would ever be finished and used.

Then came the decision to move to a senior living community. McLaughlin knew she would live out the rest of her years in North Carolina. But the question was, where?   Born and raised in High Point, she had earned a teaching certificate at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and met and married Cleveland Postmaster Milton McLaughlin while teaching at Boyden High School in Salisbury. When their children, Gail and Neely, were born, she took a few years off until Salisbury City Schools Superintendent J. H. Knox recruited her for the brand new Knox Junior High School. McLaughlin taught there for 20 years.  After her husband’s death, McLaughlin moved to Chapel Hill to become a sorority house director — a responsibility she fulfilled for 11 years. And when it was really and truly time to retire, McLaughlin assumed she would remain in Chapel Hill.

“I was driving back from the mountains and saw a billboard for Trinity Oaks,” McLaughlin said. “I called Trinity Oaks the next day, made an appointment, and was accepted within the month.”  “I liked that Trinity Oaks was so well planned and well rounded, and I was pleased that I could choose many of the details for my new apartment.”  As McLaughlin and her daughter, Gail, were packing for the move to Salisbury last spring, they happened upon several of her handmade quilt tops.  “I constructed them using scraps leftover from making Gail’s dresses when she was in elementary school,” McLaughlin said. “There are two Sunbonnet Sue patterns, a Log Cabin and an appliquéd Wedding Ring. Gail had the great idea of asking the quilters at her church to help us complete the backing and binding.”  With help from Gail’s friends at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Oxford, the quilts were finished in time for McLaughlin to display them publicly at Trinity Oaks and gift them to her grandchildren at Christmas.  “I hope they will be enjoyed for years to come by my descendants,” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin is finding plenty to keep her busy even though she can no longer quilt.  “We have lots of singalongs at Trinity Oaks, which I love,” McLaughlin said. “We have marvelous music at our chapel services. We have also taken field trips to see Christmas lights in Kannapolis and to see new developments in my old hometown of Cleveland — and there are many other activities to choose from.  “When I first considered moving to a senior living community, I was afraid the time was coming when I could no longer be independent. Here at Trinity Oaks, I have the opportunity to be independent.”


Read more at: https://www.salisburypost.com/2024/02/03/of-hearts-and-hands-a-former-quilter-completes-her-heirlooms-with-help-from-friends/