Love in Quilting at Thistlebee Quilt Shoppe, Downtown Goldsboro, NC

If quilting is friendship and a universal language of love, expect to feel the rise and falls of that friendship and love like any other relationship. Such was the case for me when I entered Thistlebee Quilt Shoppe last week.

I knew immediately when I entered the store that something was wrong. Bolts of fabric were missing from the shelves, sales signs were down, and it just looked rather bare. A group of ladies surrounded the counter offering condolences and saying they were sorry to see her leave. I picked my jaw up off the floor and went to the desk and asked, “what have I missed?”

If you’ve already read parts 1 and 2 of my story, you know I love my little local quilt shop. The owners, Mary Ellen and Joe MacInnes, were the inspiration of my earlier “Follow Your Heart” blog. Now they are following their hearts out of business. Joe has a non-cancerous tumor that will require surgeries and years of recovery. They cannot manage the store and go through recovery at the same time.

All this Mary said to me while I stood there mute, holding back tears. “I know we were just talking about this, and I said we weren’t going anywhere, but there was no way we could have known about this,” she said. “Closing the store is the right thing to do to take care of Joe.”

I walked to the back of the store to the now near empty classroom and wept. Thistlebee had stood strong in the community for years and developed a spot in the world. It was a spot Joe and Mary Ellen worked together to claim and one she knew she couldn’t maintain without him. The full weight of the loss of the store hadn’t hit them and wouldn’t yet. It was far more important to care for Joe’s health. While I admired Mary Ellen’s priorities, I couldn’t help but feel a bit of self-pity to lose the place I loved so much. I made a stack of purchases that day to help, and ever-kind Joe helped me carry them out. I cried my way home; I would miss them.

Inside the store

Inside the store

Mary Ellen at the register looking out into the shop from the classroom.

Mary Ellen at the register looking out into the shop from the classroom.

The classroom at Thistlebee

The classroom at Thistlebee when mom and I took the quilt class

Thistlebee exterior

Thistlebee exterior

Sometimes we think someone or something will be with us forever, then things change. Life gets in the way and we are left weeping. I plan to keep in touch with Mary Ellen, Joe, and my friends from Thistlebee, but it won’t be the same as sitting and learning and crafting together.

What, in your life, are you taking for granted? How can you better honor that gift while it is still a part of your life?

6 thoughts on “Love in Quilting at Thistlebee Quilt Shoppe, Downtown Goldsboro, NC

  1. rebecca, I found your complete story here on the reader. I agree with you that quilters are a marvelous, loving, and friendly group of people. I haven’t taken the time to quilt until just lately I’ve been meeting with a group who make lap size quilt to donate to needy places. I could learn to like it! I never met a quilter who seemed to be jealous of others’ beautiful quilts. I wonder if there is some left over goodwill from the by-gone days of the quilting bee.

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  2. Rebecca, You certainly captured the true essence and spirit of our quilting experience at Thistlebee Quilt Shop!! What a writer you are,I’m so proud of you. Although our hearts break over the loss of the Thistlebee Shop, our memories and friendships we made there will always live in our hearts. Stay strong my child, grow from this, step up a little higher,let this make you a little stronger,continue your friendships, encourage them who are hurting, and do what you can do to be of any help and encouragement to them, as we have talked about! Love you, Mom

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  3. You are a marvelous writer with great experiences to back it up. I know that wasn’t a good feeling of a place that was dear to you; to close due to life changes.

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