Marjorie Pantuso knew quilters were a helpful group of people but she never expected that she or her family would be on the receiving end of that generosity.
Nevertheless, she said she’s grateful for the assistance of the Pecos Valley Quilters, of which she is a member, as well as that of Country Club Road Church of Christ and others in the community after her family lost their home in a Dec. 20 fire.
Members of the quilters group brought the family quilts and are helping Marjorie resupply her stash of fabrics. One member even spent a day helping the family organize their temporary home.
“I’m so grateful to the quilters for doing this, but then I know being a quilter for so long that is what we do,” Marjorie said Monday.
“It’s awesome to be on the receiving end and know the ladies that did it. It’s humbling,” she said.
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The home on West Country Club was a total loss and will have to be demolished, Marjorie said. It was a house her son, Mark, and daughter-in-law, Donna, had purchased just over a year ago so Marjorie, 80, and her husband, Phil, 86, could move in with them.
Marjorie uses a wheelchair and she and her husband needed some help with her care, she said.
“They bought this house that would accommodate all of us,” she said.
The family had just sat down for dinner that Sunday evening, Marjorie said, when there was smoke. They had just started a fire in the fireplace and thought the cause was the fireplace damper.
“We turned on fans and opened windows and everybody went about their business. Then my son stepped out into the garage for something and he shut that door and came running through and said ‘Get out of the house, it’s on fire, grab the animals,’” Marjorie said.
The family and their two dogs and cat made it safely out of the house.
Neighbors helped the family save some things from the house — including the few Christmas presents already under the tree and one of Marjorie’s sewing machines — before the flames spread through the rest of the house.
“I remember going down the driveway to get in a car and I looked over my shoulder, and I saw this man picking up those Christmas presents and setting them in the back of my husband’s pickup,” she said.
Some of the things lost in the fire are irreplaceable, including a couple of prized quilts on Marjorie’s bed.
One was a king-sized quilt started by eight women that Marjorie finished.
“It was laying on the end of my bed, folded up. All four corners just burned. There’s a little space in the center that didn’t,” she said.
“I’m going to make that quilt again,” she said. Already, her fellow quilters have given her similar material and the quilting notions to get started.
Another quilt was hand-made for her by a quilter who died several years ago.
“That quilt was on my bed and I lost it, too. I really hated that because I was fond of that lady,” Marjorie said.
The family spent a few nights in a hotel but were able to quickly get into a partially furnished house offered by a member of Mark and Donna’s church, Country Club Road Church of Christ.
“My son told him it would probably be a year or more and he said that’s fine. It’s a nice, big comfortable house and we’ve got room and I can get around just fine,” she said.
“People have brought food in and the only thing we were lacking was some towels and linens, and the quilters brought all that in for us,” she said.
Daughter Lanie had been planning on hosting the entire family for Christmas celebrations, so they were able to gather there on that day, Marjorie said.
The amount of help and support from the community have been overwhelming at times, Marjorie said. Pioneer Bank and Eastern New Mexico Medical Center have also offered assistance, she said.
“The community as a whole. The quilters and the church have been exceptional, but the community … I just can’t tell you,” she said.
City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or firstname.lastname@example.org.