Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Continued from September 19, 2011 post..........The end of the story may be lengthy, but I will complete it tonight.
1995 brought many changes to our lives, most of which were traumatic. Her return in the fall, that I had looked forward to for so long was not at all what I expected. She was the peaceful slice that remained in my life at that time, and I yearned to see her young. A lovely daughter walked behind her as she approached me from the hillside. How did she sense my stress and despair? I'll never know, but I believe that she felt the disturbance in my once peaceful inner being, as she immediately swung around and chased her young to the top of the hillside where she remained.
This did not change our unique bond, as she returned to me, and allowed me to put my arms around her, somehow sensing that this silent gesture was my need for her comfort and friendship. And it remained so, throughout that winter and into the spring of 1996. Our daily quiet walks together, crusted snow crunching under our feet, and always watching her lovely child standing on the hillside waiting for her mother to return to her. I was never allowed to touch, or approach her little girl, and I respected the unanticipated protective side of this kindred spirit beside me. It was a time of grief and sadness for me, and difficult to comprehend why her young was kept at a distance.

My life and part of my history as a designer must now come into play to explain the turmoil that had come to be in my existence during this period of time. My husband and I had worked for many years to build our business so that we might pursue our dreams and fulfill our destiny. The hard work had paid off as I stood on the deck of my new home in Colorado on October 3rd, 1985, beholding a beautiful double rainbow across our little valley. A tremendous feeling of accomplishment swept over me. I had produced the art that was born within me and was part of my identity in a way that I had never imagined when I began painting water colors in my late teens.
I was introduced to crafts by friends, thus beginning my journey into quilting and designing. Drawing, and then stitching out the motifs in my head, and seeing them come to life was one of the greatest gifts that could have happened to me, and I marveled that I was earning a good living creating from the depths of my imagination.
I had teamed up with Better Homes & Gardens magazine in the early 1980's, producing a Transportation Quilt that made the cover of the magazine in July of 1981 and was a monumental success. It was the beginning of the huge triumph that we experienced for over 14 years, designing and manufacturing not only for the magazine, but for Better Homes Craft and Book Club as well. I designed, and Robert, my husband, manufactured my designs. His creative side emerged during this time and we generated everything from quilting patterns to cross stitch, candlewicking, and any craft that was popular during the 1980's through the mid 1990's, but it proved to be a fatal mistake and a good lesson for later in my life.
The bulk of our work came from the Book Club, and I was kept very busy producing all of the models for photography and then the instructions that were all produced by my hand, as computers were just making their debut in the marketplace, but had yet to reach my realm of production.
Although Pam Bono Designs was on every color front sheet that Better Homes printed after photographing my models, we were never allowed to place any contact information about our company on anything that we produced for them, which included both kits and patterns. Little time was available for me to pursue other clients, nor did it enter my mind to do so, as I felt very secure with this giant company, even though my work was all on a sub-contract basis.
Each month I had a phone "meeting" with the people that I worked with in New York, and decisions were made regarding what I would produce in the coming weeks. The designs were completed, sent to New York for photography, during which time I produced the patterns and instructions. Soon the purchase orders followed for the kits or patterns. Although it kept us very busy, we did find time to enjoy our home and our life in the place that we loved.
After 14 years it was over as abruptly as it had started. The "Powers That Be" had gone into the offices in New York, unannounced, and fired everyone as they did not feel that the Book Club was profitable any longer. Kits and patterns were no longer offered in the magazine. The Book Club was sold and I found myself without an income and without any contacts with other possible clients. We had a son in college and our second son would soon be graduating high school. Fortunately we had a "nest egg" that stretched out for 18 months while I searched for other ways in which to market my work.
The loss went deeper than the income, as I felt that I had lost the vocation that I truly loved, and had put my heart into for so many years. Had I taken it all for granted? I was too close to the situation to be able to step back and look at the positive potential.
We hung on as best as we could, and it seemed as though I hit one brick wall after another. Fall of 1996 had come and she was back, but this time with a beautiful little male who reminded me so much of her brother. He strutted and pranced in our yard showing pride at a very young age. Although she hustled him to the top of the hill when I appeared, I just had to give him a name as I stood at our living room window every day and watched his performance. I named him Jack.
As things went from bad to worse, we were forced to sell our beloved little home at the top of the hill where I had stood on my deck so many times and watched the cowboys move their cattle to and from the high country, and had marveled at the beauty of the rainbows. This had been so much a part of my inspiration. The colorful inspiration that went into every design that I had rendered or put my hand to. The loss was devastating.
To this day, I don't know how she knew that we were leaving, but she knew. Still keeping her young at the top of the hill, she followed me around like a dog every time I appeared, and the love between us would remain in my heart forever. I had no gift to give her the day before we were to leave, but she gave me her complete affection that day, and it will remain with me as long as I live. We stood in the driveway together, my arm around her while she gazed up at me. I spoke softly to her and she reached up towards my face to rub noses.
Suddenly she stepped aside, moved her head in a gesture, and I saw Jack running towards me. I was frozen to the spot as he approached and stood before me. Reaching my hand out slowly, I touched the silky hair on his beautiful little head as he arched his neck upwards to rub noses. My journey with them had come full circle. No greater gift had ever been bestowed upon me. No unconditional love had ever gone this deep, nor would it ever again. She had given me the only gift that she had, and that gift was her baby.

I feel no sorrow now, although it took years before I could tell the story without tears. The experience taught me many things, one of which was self reliance, and the other was never to give up my dreams, which I have yet to do. My husband and I, and now with our assistant designer, Susan have authored many books, and have built a website to fulfill our independence and to teach quilters, and those who love crafts, the best possible ways to achieve success and build skills so that they may produce work that they are proud of.

So many remarkable things were experienced with this special loved one in my life who was a great teacher for me and for my family. She was a gift, and she was a miracle. There is not a day that passes that I am not grateful to have had her in my life, and to have experienced and learned what happens when you love a place so much, and connect so deeply with nature, it has a way of giving that love back to you in ways that you never imagined.

Her name was Webster, and she was a Mule Deer in our beautiful State of Colorado. She never did quite grow into those huge ears!!


  1. Ah, Pam--you are a skillful storyteller and writer as well as an artist. Your tale has brought tears to my eyes. Having grown up in the mountains of Colorado, where mule deer were an everyday sight on our 200 acre ranch, when I read your blog posts about "Her", it made my heart ache for the sight of those beautiful, mysterious creatures that are mule deer. You were indeed truly gifted with a miracle, one that lasted many years. Thank you for sharing it, and for writing it in such a sensitive and loving way. Everything you do is a gift to others...

  2. Thanks so much. Very helpful input. To this day I am not able to tell this story, but I am able to write it. I'm working on a book which is fiction but is based upon my ancestors lives in Durango from 1886. Very interesting family history, and one of the reasons I wanted to come back was to research many things that I need to know.
    I look at the mule deer now in my yard and love to see them, but venturing out to get close to them will probably not happen again.
    Thanks for your comments!

  3. I cried when I read this blog...all your entries. You have a talent with words as well as art.
    crystalbluern at onlineok dot com

  4. Pam,
    I am so sad as I write this to you as you will never be able to read it. I'm in shock over such a terrible turn of events.
    I've so enjoyed my relationship through the years with you and Robert even though it was pretty much business only. We had several conversations about other things and you both would always greet my calls or emails with recognition and even though you were so busy, my emals or calls were always returned. I kew you the most through your wonderful talent that you shared with the world.
    As a store owner, I've made and sold your patterns for years. When this news travels on to the quilt world, what a loss they will experience.
    My heart and prayers go out to your family and friends. This is such a tough time for them and I pray for peace for them and the knowledge that you are both Angels that are making Heaven a better place to be.
    I had not read your blog before and a friend led me to it. What a blessing you had with Webster, the little girl and Jack. I can tell you knew what a blessing it was. Something I'm sure not many, if any, are allowed to experience. Something in you made her know what you needed and it was an amazing relationship.
    I am sad. May God bless you, Robert and your family. You both will be so missed.