Sweet Ann

When I picked needlepoint back up sometime a decade or more ago I was warmly welcomed into a well established group of accomplished stitchers. Many of them had been stitching their whole life and they would sit around the round table at Chapel Hill needlepoint and talk and needlepoint.

When they first invited me to stitch with them I was very intimidated by their skills and their long term friendships. One woman was incredibly helpful to make me feel at home, Ann Hamner. We shared similar feeling on politics and dogs. In those first weeks of stitching with the “stitching table advisors” she made me feel like however I was stitching was fine. “I only do basketweave,” she used to tell me as I looked at the intricate stitches of others.

Eventually I was invited to join a special group and we would stitch Christmas ornaments for each other secret Santa style. I liked having the ornament exchange as a lunch party at my house and all the stitching advisors would come and stay all day.

Ann could be counted on to show up in her red plaid turtle neck and red vest, no matter how warm a December day it ended up being. Our friend Kate often wore her vest that matched Ann’s turtle neck.

I loved hearing about Ann’s dog Splash or where her grand children were going to college as we stitched. Covid ended stitching at the round table and I missed being with Ann regularly. Then she had some heart problems, but after a long illness she recovered.

Last year she announced it was her last year in the ornament exchange. I was sad, but understood. I thought we would still have the table. But stitching at the table has not come back and I was more often than not teaching Mah Jongg.

I recently sent out the invitations for the ornament exchange, which always happens the first Monday in December. Paperless post asked me if I wanted the same guest list. I had to modify it, but what I didn’t know is that Ann would not be able to make it this year, even if we just invited her. Ann passed away this morning.

Although she was older than my mother I considered her a contemporary. She was a young spirit who was kind to everyone, human and canine. Her passing will leave a big hole in the stitching advisory.

I’m certain we will be telling lots of Ann stories at the exchange this year. I pray for all her family and friends who will miss her sweet smile. She was the best.

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