Bluegrass greats Flatt & Scruggs, Bill Monroe, The Osborne Brothers, Jim & Jesse, Ricky Skaggs, Alison Krauss, Rhonda Vincent, Dailey & Vincent and many more bluegrass stars are making a special appearance. They, and other bluegrass and country acts, who are members of the Grand Ole Opry, are layered together in a new quilt that blind quilter Diane Rose designed and crafted.
“The Grand Ole Opry has always been my family when my family basically disowned me and had nothing to do with me,” Rose says. “The Grand Ole Opry welcomed me with open arms. Roy Acuff was like my grandfather.”
All 216 members of the Opry from 1925 until the present are featured on the 19 foot long quilt.
“It was the hardest project I’ve ever done,” Rose says. “It was done in bits and pieces. You have to do the research to find the individual artists, and I wanted to do it in chronological order.”
“For example, Roy Acuff was the 31st member of the Grand Ole Opry. It says ‘31 Roy Acuff 1938-1992, Smoky Mountain Boys’,” Rose explains.
The quilt includes a picture of the Opry barn and Life and Casualty Insurance logo. Rose used 3 x 5 pictures except when earlier photos were damaged or deteriorated. In those cases, she used a silhouette of the musician with the name.
For Rose, the Grand Ole Opry has been the fabric of her life.
“The members of the Opry have loved me so much,” she says. “I wanted to respect them and show them the love that I have for them in return for the love they’ve given me.”
“When I die or at some point, I will either donate it to the Grand Ole Opry or have it hang at the Country Music Hall of Fame,” she says. “You could give me billions of dollars, [but to me] it’s priceless.”
Born with glaucoma, Rose could make out what objects and things in color looked like as a child, but she lost the rest of her sight in 1984 when her cornea ruptured, only four days before she was to have a cornea transplant.
“When you lose something you have to grieve,” Rose told Bluegrass Today. “That grieving can cause you to go down and not be able to get up. I didn’t get that bad. I would go to sleep so I could dream that I could see.”
Well-meaning people prayed for her vision to be restored while she stood in healing lines at various churches. She was becoming tired of the process when evangelist Kenneth Hagin approached her one day after church when he was visiting.
“I want to pray for your spiritual eyes. ‘The Lord is telling me He’s going to bless you with a talent that you are not aware of right now, but you’ll know when it comes time. It will be colorful. God will prosper you, and you’ll be known around the world. You’ll stand with dignitaries, kings and queens and presidents and governors. You’ll make a difference in millions of people’s lives. You’ll change people’s lives. He’ll provide the provision, and He’ll take care of you. You’ll inspire other people with their handicap’.”
Rose playfully thought the guy was a little crazy. Still, in the back of her mind she hoped that vision would come true. Standing in her kitchen on a rainy day fourteen years later, she cried out in desperation.
“I felt discouraged, and I threw my hands up, and I said, ‘Lord, where is my talent? You said, you’d give me talents. Where are they? My hands got hot, and they started dripping with oil. ‘Okay, God. Just use me’.”
The next day Rose saw a quilt on the back of her friend Pat Brantley’s couch and decided she’d like to try to make one. Since then, Rose has stitched together more than 1,000 quilts over the last 20 years. Her quilts have made their way into the hands of Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, and Porter Waggoner. President Bush has one of her quilts hanging up in his office ranch in Crawford, TX, and she presented Prince William and Kate with a baby quilt while she was visiting England.
“I love to create,” Rose says. “I love to put things together. Being totally blind does not stop me from going forward and doing something. God gives us talents. We’ve got to use them or lose them. We’ve got to put our focus on Him because He will take care of us. Fear will not get you anywhere, but faith always will. You’ve got to trust God to carry you through what you need to do. I have a lot of goals. I go after them.”
Rose uses her faith and determination to inspire others at motivational speaking engagements through her Diane Rose Ministries. She also wants to encourage other people with disabilities, so she has the idea of building a 3,000 square foot house where she could teach others to quilt.
“I want a couple of guest rooms, a large sewing room, a display room so I can have lots of shelves to hang the quilts and all the other merchandise that I make. I already have five or six students.”
Rose is raising money for the project through her website, www.theamazingquilter.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-799-7990. People who participate financially will have their names put on a plaque in the house’s foyer.
“I love to help people,” Rose says. “I love to be there for people. Too many people are ready to criticize. There’s a lot of ugly out there. Who wants to live in that? I don’t. I want to be happy and live in peace, interact with people, and be able to help people as they have helped me.”