Tina and Wally shared years of experience with paraplegia having spinal cord injuries at about the same level. Tea and I were both working to promote community-based services for families whose children have disabilities. Even with all these common threads between us Wally and I cannot identify exactly why or how these two women impacted our lives so profoundly, except that they are truly exceptional women with hearts big enough to make an impression on everyone they meet, and it was our fortune to have them in our home for those precious 21 days.
While here in Eugene, Tina had a goal of finding projects for the women in the Center she was developing in Gori. She wanted them to have projects to work on and a means to express themselves, as well as to be financially productive. Tina looked at the quilts that I have made that are all around my house, and asked if I would give her a lesson in quilt making. It was not easy to find time in her busy schedule for a quilt lesson, but we did manage to during one of the evenings after her full day of programs. I showed her how to use a rotary cutter, a little about strip-piecing, how to put the layers of a quilt together, etc. She decided that quilting would be the project for the women at the Gori Disability Center.
The day before Tina and Tea left, there was still a list of items they wanted to take back home including supplies for the quilting project. Tina, had a very small amount of spending money (typical of people with disabilities in Georgia) and not having the money to purchase these items she did not ask to be taken to shop for them. I discovered this at the last minute and at 5pm on the day before their departure we charged down to the Quilt Patch, a quilting store here in Eugene. With the offer of a generous discount, we purchased $125 worth of supplies: a rotary cutter, mat, and other items that would not otherwise be available in Georgia. We did not buy fabric as there was not money for it, or space in the luggage. I promised to send lessons by email and to mail some fabric. The Quilt Patch clerk on duty kept the store open late to allow us to make our purchase, and without being asked, she discounted the cost significantly- one more example of the power of Tina’s spirit.