Several times a day while sitting in his wheelchair, George Schuster gazes at the computerized photographs that fill most of the tiny squares on the quilt that hangs in his room at Bethany Good Samaritan Village in Brainerd.
The handmade quilt, created by his daughter, Karen Sullivan, Sheboygan, Wis., is filled with signatures from family and friends and photographs that were taken at George's and his wife Ione's 50th wedding anniversary party in 1998. Their daughter finished the quilt about two months ago and brought it to her dad's nursing home room. The maintenance staff then hung the large quilt on one side of his room.
Life hasn't been easy in the past few years for 73-year-old George Schuster. He has suffered several strokes and underwent heart bypass surgery a few years ago. After surgery May 16 to prevent an aneurysm below his heart, he suffered another stroke and his kidneys malfunctioned, forcing him to go on dialysis for more than a month. He also contracted pneumonia twice.
He entered Bethany Good Samaritan Village on June 21 in an attempt to recover his strength.
Before that quilt was hung in his room, it was difficult for George to even sit up in bed. Now he is using a walker and slowly regaining muscle strength. His wife gives credit for George's recovery to Bethany staff members, of course, and to the quilt, which is a daily reminder for her husband about how many people care about him. Ione believes the quilt has given her husband a reason to live.
"Ever since then, it seems his recovery has gotten better because he walks over and sits in front of the quilt, looks at it and smiles," said Ione. "It was good medicine for him."
Their wedding anniversary party was held at the Moose Lodge in Brainerd. One photograph shows George's nephew, Stanley Schuster, Owatonna, sitting at a table surrounded by family. A year ago, Stanley died of lung cancer at age 57.
"It makes him cry when he sees Stanley," said Ione. "But it's good for him."
Since George has been responding well to his therapy in recent weeks, he was able to go home for the holidays and was looking forward to seeing their son Wayne's dog, Molly. Ione said they both plan to move into the Bethany apartments where they can live together, relying on assisted living help for George.
The quilt, said Ione, will have a prominent place in their new home as well.
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