Determination inspires creative seamstress

 By Kay Braddock

There may be a number of ways one might describe 82-year-old Marian Meland. A proud Alaskan resident for many years, Meland moved to Terry from Oregon several years ago to be closer to son Frank Cramer. 
Pictures lining the shelves of her bedroom bookcase and the pages of thick photo albums, tell the story of an adventurous, unwavering woman. Snapshots depict a smiling Meland standing over a bear she shot. Others show her and late husband Pete Meland, a state senator from Alaska, in numerous overseas locations. 
Meland, a mother of four children – three sons and one daughter – not only has her past to point to for vivid examples of her sheer determination. An avid seamstress, who took up the skill in her adult years, Meland has overcome several difficult physical aliments that might have left some abandoning the hobby. 
An accident that occurred in 1967 at her work at an Oregon plywood mill resulted in four missing fingers on her right hand. She would later suffer a broken wrist from a fall during a visit in Switzerland. The lack of proper care, left her wrist bent downward. But in spite of the resulting physical ailments, Meland shares she continued to pursue her favored hobby – sewing.
Then in 1985, when Meland was just 58, she suffered a stroke, leaving her right side with partial paralysis. She’s unable to share many details, answering with simple one-syllable replies. But her actions speak louder than any words she could utter.
Pointing to a picture of a recently completed baby quilt for a grandchild, Meland’s pride in her accomplishment is obvious. And to those who know her, it’s inspiring.
“I’m in awe,” shares Dawnya Kirkpatrick of Meland’s work and the determined efforts she takes to complete them. Kirkpatrick, who provides a home healthcare service for elderly residents, has shared her home with Meland for the past two years. She has become part of the family, Kirkpatrick said, noting the family has benefited from Meland’s skill. Sewn curtains and repaired blue jeans are just a few of the sewing projects Meland has undertaken for the family. 
“She is the most determined woman,” Kirkpatrick said As an example, Kirkpatrick shares how Meland binds the edging on potholders. 
“She unfolds it,” Kirkpatrick said. “And does one side, folds it over and puts that side through.” All this is done “because pinning is not an option.”
Meland will be displaying her sewn potholders, pillows and fleece scarves at the Terry Craft Festival on Sunday, Dec. 13 at the Terry High School gymnasium. This is only her second year selling her sewn items. She clearly indicates her anticipation for the day-long event and seeing those who will stop by her table.
When asked if Kirkpatrick ever helps with Meland’s sewing projects, she laughs and answers, “I rip a seam if I have to.”

Published Dec. 9, 2009

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