A Lowcountry Classic Profile Featuring...

Mae Chisolm Mitchell

When she threw open the door, I gasped in delight. Stepping across the bedroom threshold a plethora of color greeted me. Stacked in every direction were at least 100 or more quilts sparkling with the amazing handwork of "Ms Minnie" (as everyone lovingly calls her) Mae Chisolm Mitchell. Taught by her Aunt Lucy Chisolm as a young girl, Ms. Minnie has produced designs in quilts and pillows rivaling the beauty of sunsets on Buckingham Plantation where she was born the sixth of eight children on June 22, 1922. Later her family purchased property in Bluffton and moved there when she was eight years old.

She had hoped to go away to boarding school, but financial pressures on the family prevented it, so she remained at home and at sixteen began her first job. She married Joseph Mitchell when she was twenty and together they raised fourteen children. Fourteen! "I'm so proud of my children," Ms Minnie clapped her hands excitedly. "Everyone of them had their chores, and when a parent spoke then... a child listened! We spent a lot of time in church." A warm, happy smile lit up her face disguising the tragedies she has weathered. Losing a child is so out of sequence, and losing another is unthinkable. Ms. Minnie has experienced earth's sorrows in the loss of nine of her fourteen precious children, yet joy still remains on her face and in her soul. Reaching for the large family Bible she scanned the pages for the "gifts" she has left. After a moment she lifted the large white book filled with memories up to her daughter requesting her help in verifying how many grand-children, great grand-children, and great, great grand-children light up her life. Laura Bush, one of the five remaining started the count. "As of February 2007, you have 21 grand-children, 20 great-grandchildren and seven great, great, grand-children!" she declared.

Ms Minnie beamed, focusing on her gifts rather than her losses. "God never puts on us more than we can bear," she advised. "Our faith in God always keeps us going."

Laura Bush, who has served on the Beaufort County School Board for eighteen years feels her Mom's most outstanding qualities are her "faith and her strength. She lost some of her children within a two year period. Then when my Dad was only 63 he had a bad stroke, was debilitated, and bed-ridden for a long time; Mom took care of him for 27 years."

At 85, Ms. Minnie is active in Senior Citizens programs, the Zion Baptist Church, and only recently retired from the Senior Choir. She serves on the Missionary Board, and is Advisor to the Voices of Zion, and, of course, creates amazing designs for her original quilts and pointed pillows. One of her queen-sized "Yo Yo" quilts contains over 100 small pieces of material cut in circles, gathered in the center and woven together to form a sea of color. Ms. Minnie had to think about the most difficult aspect of making so many quilts. "Well, it's not cutting up the squares, or even arranging them in patterns"...she pauses. "I guess the hardest part is the hand hem stitching," with which she finishes each one. It's impossible to figure out how long it takes for her to create one of her masterpieces. She laughs at the question explaining, "I work when the spirit moves me!" Of all the off-spring only one grandchild, Carol, has learned the art of quilting from Ms. Minnie, and they work on multiple projects together. Ms. Minnie's daughter, Laura, says, "The quilting keeps her sharp. You have to think to quilt, and I can truly say, it's therapy for Mom."

Surrounded by her quilts in more colors than ever witnessed in the finest rainbow, Ms. Minnie reflects on her life, "We just try to do the right thing and believe in God." Truly she must have found that elusive pot at the end of the rainbow to be filled with riches far out-weighing gold.

To inquire about Ms. Minnie's quilts, call Laura at (843) 757-2638.

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