Wednesday, January 10, 2018

My Friend Kathy French

This is me with my friend Kathy French when she visited me in November 2015. We met online somewhere in early 2012 when she was working on her quilt, Roses for Rosita. It's original, and all free pieced. She didn't use any templates or patterns. I was blown away and we became friends pretty quick.

Kathy visited me in August 2012 and we spent our time talking quilts for two days. This is one of the incredible free pieced houses she made. You can read about this visit here. 

Kathy was deaf, but she wore hearing aids and could read lips. When she talked, she had the flat, distinctive sound of a deaf person talking. I had to pay attention to face her when I talked, and speak distinctly. When I told her I hoped the noise of my busy street wouldn't keep her awake at night, she replied that it didn't matter, because she couldn't hear it anyway.

Kathy and I kept in touch by email (she couldn't speak on the phone, obviously) and when my friend Julie Sefton asked me about quilters who might be interested in testing her process notes for her book, Build-a-Barn, and join the Secret Society of Barn Builders, I immediately suggested Kathy.

 This is Kathy's barn. It's the barn attached to her house in Belfast Maine.

 I visited Kathy in the summer of 2015 and spent four days with her. We had a blast, as you can see. We walked all around her town of Belfast, talked quilts, looked at quilts, took pictures of quilts, cooked, shopped, ate ice cream, drove around looking at barns, got lost, got found, and laughed some more.

One morning I woke up early and explored Kathy's studio. This is the drawing she made before she made her barn block.

This is the real barn. Yeah. Kathy was GOOD!

In 2016 Kathy visited me Thanksgiving weekend. We barely had any time together, but we took the photo at the top of this post. It was the last time we were together. Last June she wrote that she had developed Stage 4 lung cancer that spread into organs, bones, and brain. The cancer was so aggressive that radiation, chemotherapy, and other treatments failed to stop or slow down the spreading. Kathy had never smoked.

Late last September I wrote to Kathy and asked how she was. I wished her happy birthday and told her I missed her and loved her. She told me had stopped treatment because it was getting worse with the Chemo, not better.

I waited to hear from her again, and when I heard nothing, I wrote again last week. Her husband replied that she died peacefully on November 1.

I'm sad, and I'm pissed. I lost a great friend, and I miss her. I learned a lot from her and was amazed by her work ethic and how hard she worked to learn what she didn't know.

But I'm really glad I got to know her.

Kathy blogged here, Quilted Under the Influence.


Poppy Q said...

So sorry to hear about your beautiful friend Kathy. What a lovely post Lynne and I am sure that your friendship made her life better. She was super talented too - that barn quilt is amazing.

Julie and Poppy Q

Nancy J said...

A wonderful tribute to your wonderful friend. Distances apart, but friendship so strong. A huge gap in your life, words are not enough right now.

Valerie said...

Thank you for sharing your dear friend.

Linda Swanekamp said...

Thank you for sharing such a wonderful person. We all need to make time to cultivate friendship with the great people out there and stop letting the everyday drama interfere. Hope to meet you someday.

Quilter Kathy said...

I'm so sorry you have lost such a wonderful friend and the world lost a brilliant creative soul!
She had the same cancer experience as my nonsmoking brother, and it took him down so fast.
Love that photo of her in Belfast... hang on to these great memories.

Quiltdivajulie said...

A beautiful post for a beautiful lady.

Jackie said...

So sorry to you have lost such a great friend. I lost my dear SIL to the same type of cancer December 1st last year, it’s so quick. It sounds like you had such a special friendship and a lot of great memories. Sending you hugs.

Kathleen Rea Heiser said...

How loving that tribute was! I felt I knew her from your description. She was obviously a special woman. I'm so sorry you've lost her.

QuiltSwissy said...

She was and amazing lady. I am so glad I had a small time to spend with her through SSOBB. Thanks for sharing Kathy here for us.


suzanprincess said...

What a loss to her family, including you, and the entire quilting community; thank you for sharing her talents with us here. Having lost my loving and multi-talented baby brother to C on 7-25-16 I totally agree with your sentiment "I'm pissed." I still am, myself.

Cindy Beal said...

So very sorry on the loss of your friend Kathy. So wonderful that you two crossed paths and became friends and shared some great times. Thank you for sharing Kathy with us.

starsthatblaze said...

Thank you for sharing. A friend of mine died quite unexpectedly last November and your pictures remind me that I have no photo of her and me together. In her book The Lost Landscape, Joyce Carol Oates wrote, "Without taking pictures our memories would melt, evaporate." You have inspired me to be more intentional about taking photos.

CathyQuilts said...

Please accept my sympathy on the loss if your friend Kathy. I visited her blog and loved her buoys series as well as her barns. She was quite talented.
Oddly, I once had a friend named Kathy French, but lost track of her. I met her at a restaurant where we were both waitresses in the mid 70s