Family reunions were a highlight of Mabel Hobbs’ life – until COVID-19 put a hold on them. The former teacher, however, soon found a way to remain emotionally connected with loved ones, beyond traditional means of contact.
During the pandemic, she has been busy at home, making quilts for her grandchildren: Heidi, Shauna, Clay, Raymond, Kelli, Bonnie and Andrew.
So far she has completed 12 quilts, inspired by a book full of ideas for patterns, while the 13th is a work in progress.
At one stage, she was producing a quilt a month, testament to the amazing energy that has characterized her life.
She has also been using the sewing skills she first acquired as girl of 10 or 11, making pyjamas for her growing number of great-grandchildren.
Asked what motivates her, she replies: “During COVID, there is nothing else to do.”
Pressed a little further, she adds: “I like getting all the patterns matched.”
At 93, Mabel, who celebrated her birthday last week, sees no reason to slow down, which is good news for family members benefiting from her talents.
Raised in Carmichael, about 50 miles east of Maple Creek, Mabel first learned to sew under the guiding hand of her mother.
It wasn’t until 1988 or 89 that she started quilting. By that time, she had already had an accomplished career as a teacher – she taught up to Grade 10 and 11 at Hutterite and rural schools – and raised four daughters with husband, Graham, at the Hobbs homestead on the Bench, 35 miles north of Eastend.
Mabel has also been heavily involved in the community, devoting energy and time to such causes as the Salvation Army and a cancer group.
In 2017, she was one of 34 people in southwestern Saskatchewan to receive a Canada 150 medal for community commitment.
So when will Mabel be able to enjoy the next family reunion?
“We do get together often,” she says. “We are hoping to have a reunion this summer. If that isn’t possible, then we hope to have a Christmas party at the Seniors’ Hall.”