The journey of life

By Paul Viau | Mar 29, 2012
Photo by: Paul Viau ON THE RIGHT PATH — Mary Anne Yurko's design for the quilt block on The Homestead captures the beauty of life's journey.

I’m not surprising anyone when I remind you that each our lives is a journey. We don’t know where that journey will take us on any given day.

For example, I had no Idea that a week ago, today, my day off would be derailed by a surprise dog bite, but it was. And I’m hoping today takes me on a better path.

After all that’s why my wife and I make Haywood County our home. And we love our lives here.

We are surrounded with such great natural beauty, wonderful people, and a great artistic community that includes artists, painters, potters, woodworkers, sculptors, quilters, photographers and more. Their talents are incredible.

I have told many of our artist’s individual stories in this column, and today I want to celebrate an unknown artist, who until recently, didn’t even know she was an artist. Mary Anne Yurko, of Waynesville, is the inspiration behind one of the newest additions to the Haywood County Quilt Trail — the 10th quilt block to go up, thanks to the tireless efforts of Kay Miller, the executive director of the Haywood Arts Council.

Unlike the previous quilt blocks that grace Waynesville’s Shelton House, and the town of Clyde’s Shook–Smathers House, Lil’s, and Haywood Institute, Yurko’s design is not based on a traditional quilt pattern. It is based on her pencil sketch called  “Life’s Path,” illustrating the journey all of us take.

Yurko’s sketch was brought to life by quilt trails artists, using bold colors to depict: the sun (in the lower, left corner) representing the beginning of life, a multicolored quilt representing the care and comfort hospice provides, the flowing lines of the path representing the ups and downs of life, and the moon (in the upper right corner) symbolizing the end of life’s journey, enriched by the comforting care of hospice.

Yurko’s “Life’s Path” now graces the front of the new HRMC Hospice and Palliative Care’s inpatient unit, aptly named. The Homestead. It makes a bold and colorful statement, of the commitment of the end-of-life specialists on the hospice team.

Mary Anne Yurko is one of the most visible members of the team. She is the first, caring voice you hear when you call HRMC hospice. She speaks from experience, having seen the difference hospice care has made in countless lives, including her parents. And now, Yurko’s “Life’s Path” will be an outward symbol to all who visit “The Homestead” for years to come.

And the interior of “The Homestead” is equally inspiring, thanks to the efforts of Linda Nichols, HRMC hospice community outreach coordinator. She orchestrated a quilt theme throughout The Homestead. Each patient room is named for a traditional quilt block, and adorned by a quilted wall hanging made by a local quilter. In addition, Nichols commissioned one, large, “signature” quilt, hand-signed by more than 200 local artisans and hospice volunteers. The quilts are the perfect, homey and comforting touch.

Mary Anne’s Yurko’s quilt block design celebrates that life is a beautiful journey, along a path that (for all of us) must come to an end one day — an end that I have personally seen so enriched by hospice care.

As Ray Rapp said after the dedication of The Homestead, “We celebrate all the angels who work in the hospice ministries.”

Mary Anne, Linda, Jenny, my Carol … and all you angels, thanks so much.