Thursday, July 7, 2011

I miss you, my friend!

I've been traveling with Mr. Scottie Dog for about 6 weeks and we are finally home. I have lots of photos and tales to tell but they will have to wait. While I was gone, my good friend Loris Kay Dinsmore passed from this life. I miss her already.
I first met Lori when she was about 15 or 16 and a junior at Eureka Senior High School. I was her Young Life Leader. Young Life is an evangelical Christian Youth Group ministry and Lori was an enthusiastic, kick in the pants kind of girl. I was only 21 or 22 but I was married and somehow that made me mature and responsible enough to be part of the leadership team. Mr. Scottie Dog and I and two other young couples met weekly with the Young Life "kids" to sing silly songs, act out silly skits, be their friends and earn the right to tell them about a relationship with Jesus Christ. The group ranged from 35-100 each week during the school year. We clowned around, went on snow trips, made ice cream sundaes and made elaborate, man-powered rafts to hold 50 and race down the American River in Sacramento, CA every year. I remember the year I wore Sarah in a Snugli pack and cooked pancakes for 65 one morning before the race. Lori was my right-hand. She loved everyone and was cheerful and sunny even then. The next year I have a picture of Lori in my mind with Sarah toddling on a "leash" with Lori all over the riverbank. I knew I could trust Lori to keep my baby daughter safe and happy.

After graduation I lost track of Lori. Our family grew to add Liz & Beka and in my spare time I sewed and quilted. I didn't know any other quilters, but it was my creative passion. In the late 1980's I found the Redwood Empire Quilt Guild and joined this group of like-minded women.
In the early 1990's the Internet found it's way to our house and I soon discovered a huge Internet world of quilters. Chat rooms were popular and I soon found my way to a Chat Room exclusively for quilters around the world. A couple evenings a week I joined in one particular room and talked quilts with some regulars. Sometimes a chatter would call out: Where you from? And we'd all chime in. I never got too specific (you knew that there were axe murderers out there!) as to where I lived usually said something like, "Northern CA Redwood Forest." My screen name was BrendaLou8 and one night LorisKay said she was from Northern CA too.

BrendaLou8: Near Eureka?

LorisKay: Yes, where are you?

BrendaLou8: I live in Eureka.

LorisKay: I live in Hydesville!

BrendaLou8: We should get together.


BrendaLou8:Do you go to the quilt guild?

LorisKay: What's a guild?

BrendaLou8: we meet this next Thurs. night at 7 pm at the grange

LorisKay: It's about quilting?

BrendaLou8: yes, it's fun & you'll like it. I'll meet you there.

LorisKay: How will I know you?

I didn't know how old this LorisKay was, what she looked like, if she was married....only that she liked quilting enough to be in a quiting chat room. But I'd be safe if she was an axe murderer at the guild because there would be 150 other women there to keep me safe. Thursday night came and I had told LorisKay I'd be in the back corner at a table as I was the Block of the Month chairperson. That night I looked up and saw my old friend Lori coming in the door across the room. Our eyes met and we pointed at each other and exclaimed at the same time, "I know you!" What a wonderful reunion! Nearly twenty years had passed, but we started right up again. Lori and I had lunch the next day. We were Buds! We quilted together, we shopped together, we visited back and forth. Hydesville was about a 20 minute drive from my house.

I met her husband Dirk and her boys, Nate and Nolan. Oh how she loved her "Dinsmore men!" Lori was a She-Bear when it came to her boys. She was the first to volunteer for any job at their school, organized fundraisers, baked cupcakes, made quilts for raffles and more. She took a couple of quilting lessons from me and then organized a group of women to come to her house once a week so I could teach there. My prized pupil, Lori was. A loyal friend to all (just don't cross her or tell her a lie....she was honest and expected the same from her friends) and generous to a fault. She loved giving gifts to those she loved. My girls enjoyed her company too. We traveled a few times to quilt shows in other towns...Lori loved life.

When I decided to open Scottie Dog Quilts (later renamed Redwood Sewing Center) Lori was there to help out, working for us for many years. She helped decorate the store, made samples and had a good eye for fabrics. In the last couple of years she made a space in Fortuna in which she sewed with her friends on weekends.
Lori loved my granddaughter Sydney. She gave Sydney her first bathing suit (complete with grass skirt!), her first roller skates...she loved buying pink things for that girl!

Last summer my family had a Family Reunion at Yellowstone National Park and Lori and Nolan came too. Several of us noticed that Lori didn't seem quite herself but we shrugged it off. In December she consulted her doctor because she didn't feel "right." It took until late February to find the answer was cancer. Lori fought cancer with all she could. She spent some time at Stanford Medical center doing Chemo and then came home. I tried to keep in touch with cards every few days...she didn't take calls. The last few weeks she needed a driver to help her around but she still showed up at our store two or three times a week. She never came empty handed. Thin and frail with a pink cap on her head (Pink, Pink, you STINK!...I can hear her say it with such glee) she came with things she wanted people to have. A quilt for her sister Lila, paints for Sydney....Lori was giving away her things to people she cared about. I saw her at the store the day before we left on our trip and we hugged, but she couldn't get out of the car. Mr. Scottie Dog and I left on our trip to Minnesota on May 28 and I had a couple of reports from Liz. Lori had come to the store and was better than she'd been for a long time. She come into the store and looked around at everything. She laughed and kidded around. The morning of June 8 I got a call from a tearful Liz. Lori passed early that morning. We'd all be so hopeful, but cancer is a terrible thing. It robs us of special people, of our family and our friends who are family too.

Brat, I'll miss you. Every time I see a hummingbird I'll think of you. Take care of my girl in heaven. I treasure the quilts you made me and I know I'll see you again.