By Edyth Shuman
Sometime during late 2011, my mother was a patient at Twin Oaks which lasted a few months. At 96, she was very aware of her surroundings as well as the many people who visited her. I tried to visit two or three times a day.
One of my morning visits landed me into a room of great excitement. Both my Mom and her roommate were trying to tell me about this lady who arrived in their room with a large bag of new quilts. It’s important to note, even as a fulltime schoolteacher, Mom managed to make a quilt and hook a mat every winter. So she knew the labor that went into the making of a homemade quilt!
The story goes that this mysterious lady arrived most years with enough quilts for each hospital bed. I tried to find a name, but neither my Mom nor her roommate could remember this lady’s name.
I decided it was important to discover who this generous person could be. I first asked the nursing staff and they confirmed the gifts that his lady made every couple of years. In addition to Twin Oaks, there were several other hospitals and nursing homes that had been recipients of quilts over the years, including The Birches Nursing Home, IWK Children’s Hospital, Abby Lane Hospital, and Ocean View Nursing Home.
The more inquired about our Quilt Lady, the more intrigued I became. I had all this info but no name. Eventually, I was able to track her down. She was none other than Isabel MacKenzie, a well-known friend to many of us. I couldn’t imagine how this had gone so unnoticed for 15-20 years.
The Hospital Board showed an interest in place a memorial plaque at Twin Oaks. I called Isabel’s daughter Debbie and asked if her Mom had received any recognition for her wonderful deeds. I also asked if she thought it would be okay to bring this to the Community’s attention. She was pleased with the idea and felt sure her Mom would be thrilled. Debbie told me her Mom was quite sick, but could have visitors.
The city of Halifax presented Isabell with a plaque during a bedside visit just prior to her death in 2012.