The Joan Schick Blanket Project was founded in 2009 to pay tribute to my mother, Joan Schick...
When I was a young girl, she taught me to knit and crochet, two of her favorite hobbies. Over the years I watched her make and give away many things. Although she died in 2004, a reminder to me of her craft is a blue and grey herringbone mohair sweater she knit for me, that still gets pulled from my dresser on many rainy days. Countless blankets and afghans grace the beds and sofas of her children, grandchildren and friends. This project is a way of keeping her memory alive and celebrating her generosity of spirit, warmth, and compassion.
In February 2009, my comfortable and orderly life was turned upside down when I became afflicted with Guillain Barre, a syndrome that affects the body's nervous system.
It took 3 harrowing weeks to properly diagnose. However, once the doctors determined what was wrong, an I.V. drip was administered at a local hospital, and I was on my way to a full recovery.
The syndrome hit hard and fast. The first 3 weeks left me unable to walk since both my legs were paralyzed. I also had Bells Palsy, constant excruciating pain in my back that even morphine didn't help, and an entire body that was weakened. When the drip was completed after a couple of days at Saint Peter's University Hospital, I went to an in-patient rehabilitation facility to learn to walk again. With the guidance of physical therapists, I worked for ten days there on strengthening all of my muscles. Once home, my exercises included walking a little farther inside my house each day until I felt strong enough to walk outside where strolling a suburban block without feeling exhausted was my goal.
I always loved to cook but while recuperating hadn't the strength nor patience to spend time standing in the kitchen. During the next five months at home there wasn't a book that held my interest. When I was alone, the TV was always on. By the end of the day, I felt dissatisfied with what little I had accomplished.
The three weeks that I waited for an accurate diagnosis and the months I spent recuperating gave me much time to wonder about the bigger picture; it wasn't clear what this illness was about but I was sure it wasn't only about my being sick. Although I had been fortunate that this was my first illness, I couldn't accept that it was now my turn. There had to be something bigger about this time. I was determined that I wasn't going to look back and see my illness as a time I was on the periphery of life.
A friend of mine was going to become a grandmother. I hadn't crocheted since my mom taught me when I was a young girl. I knew I had the time to rediscover this former hobby: I was going to be out of work for the foreseeable future and the baby wasn't due for two months. The "how to" of crochet came back quickly to me and the days that I spent working on the baby blanket gave me a sense of purpose. When I was finished with the blanket, an idea began to percolate.
My mother passed away five years prior to my getting GBS in 2009. I miss her so much every single day. I knew no one would ever fill her shoes. She was filled with compassion and warmth. She was always truly happy for others' successes and sad about their failures. She was fun and funny and bright. I wasn't ready to really let her go.
The Joan Schick Blanket Project, named in memory of my mom, is my way of keeping my mother's memory alive. With her love of babies and new beginnings, along with her championing those who struggled, it made perfect sense for the babies at Saint Peter's NICU to be the recipient of the fruits of this project.
I'm fortunate that my illness was temporary, blessed that my mom was who she was, and grateful to all who have an interest in helping make this project a success.
As of this writing, the Joan Schick Blanket Project has donated over 500 handmade crocheted or knitted baby blankets from generous volunteers to the NICU at Saint Peter's University Hospital in memory of my Mother…
It's with gratitude for the way she lived a life of acceptance and open arms that has motivated me to expand this project so that the fragile, sweet babies at the NICU can be wrapped in a blanket imparting some of the love and warmth that she so generously bestowed on those she knew. Please consider donating your time and talent to this worthy cause.