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DRAPER — Donna Moyer's hands are callused from a labor of love. It has taken Moyer countless hours and many a sleepless night to get to where she is today, as the 75-year-old unveils to the public an homage to what she believes will be an eternal relationship with the love of her life.
He died three years ago after decades at Moyer's side, but Terry Moyer never truly left her, and his spirit speaks from his body's likeness, preserved for the world to see on what is her chance at national acclamation: a quilt.
It's a strange shape: unique, like her marriage was, and inspired by a shape she saw once at a museum for the Nauvoo Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Every piece of fabric was carefully chosen for its color — for the way it reflects light, a common theme in her quilt. For the colors were representative of the light reflected in her own marriage.
The scene portrayed on the quilt was a beautiful one: quiet, peaceful. Moyer doesn't know where they stood on this Earth — the couple traveled a lot, she said, and it was hard to keep track. But it was beautiful, and it was the first thing she thought of when trying to come up with a quilt for the nationwide quilting contest she decided to enter at the beginning of the summer.
"Opposites attract" was the theme, and the picture snapped of the two of them at that mysterious location was a perfect and obvious fit. Sunlight and shadows, light and dark. A short woman walking hand in hand with a tall man into eternity.
I hope, looking at it, people will feel what a sweet relationship can be.
The picture itself almost stopped the project before it began: the details of the photograph had seared themselves into Moyer's memory, but its location had not. After two days of frantic searching, though, she found it in the last box she could think to check.
"A whole day was gone," she said. "And I only had a month."
She was entering the quilt in the third and final round of McCall's Quilt Design Star Competition, which has started with more than 150 participants and was now down to nine. She was the only participant left west of the Mississippi River, and a single lost day made a big difference.
Feeling rushed now, Moyer took the photo to Kinko's and had it enlarged so her husband was 12 inches tall. She would put the photo in a circle, which she said to her symbolizes eternity.
Week one came and went, a plan was made and the center part of the quilt was complete. Every piece was applied by hand — Moyer does not use machines.
Week two, after working on the quilt 68 hours a day, she finished the circular part of the quilt, so she would have two full weeks to finish the hand-quilting.
"Every day, I would tell myself, 'I have to finish this section,'" she said. "Even if it meant staying up until 1, 2 a.m. If I had duties to take care of that day, it meant staying up late."
Labor Day meant a whole day lost — but she worked harder. And when her grandson had to have an emergency appendectomy, she took her stitching to the hospital, because "life happens, and you have to work around it."
Sept. 5 came, the anniversary of her husband's death. And on that day, Moyer stitched her husband's form into the quilt.
"That was a fun way to spend the day," she said. "I did have difficulty finding his hair color, though."
Going to the fabric store was never a hassle, though.
In this case, it was her memories that were speaking.
"This was for me a sweet remembrance," she said. "I hope, looking at it, people will feel what a sweet relationship can be. I know my family does, but maybe even people who don't know us will look at it and feel the same. Part of the journey of this quilt has been one of remembrance — a sweet relationship that has been important to me."