Even during times of isolation, one Sooke woman is stitching the community together.
Emilia “Oma” Tkacz has been sewing up a storm her entire life, and the COVID-19 outbreak has not slowed her down. In fact, she has turned the situation into an opportunity to give back.
Since the pandemic began, the 93-year-old has sewn and donated around 40 aprons for Village Food Markets in Sooke.
“She started with the cashiers, then made some for the employees in the salad and deli section, and now she is sewing some more for the bakery workers,” said Oma’s daughter Camille Tkacz. She spoke to the Sooke News Mirror for her mother, because Oma has been living with dementia for about four years.
“She sews all day long. Since living with dementia there are some things she can no longer do, but sewing has always been a part of her life and it’s something that just comes naturally to her.”
Camille is grateful that her mother is sewing aprons for grocery store workers because it shows appreciation for people who are essential, but might not always get the recognition they deserve. “I think it’s important to support the everyday people who might not always get considered before this. Not just grocery store workers, but also gas station employees, health care workers, our newspaper deliverer, and whoever is still working throughout this,” said Camille. “Especially now when people may be stressed or impatient with them, I think it’s good to show the essential workers how much we appreciate them.”
This isn’t the first time her mother has shared her crafts with the community, Camille said Oma has also given aprons to local doctors, churches, and is known for donating aprons and hand-made grocery bags at different events in Sooke such as meat draws.
“If you have lived in Sooke for any number of years, you’ve probably received an apron from my mom,” chuckled Camille.
Oma has been living with Camille and her husband Bob Ayotte for 27 years, and the three of them have resided in Sooke for about 12 years.
“In a time of crisis like this, I am so thankful my mother lives with me so we can social distance together. I can’t imagine not even being able to go visit her if she lived in a care home,” said Camille.
During the pandemic outbreak, the three of them have been keeping busy in isolation by cooking elaborate meals and going for walks every day.
“That’s how we travel, through food,” said Tkacz, explaining that she and her husband love to cook cultural dishes from around the world. “My mom mom will even sew matching table cloths and aprons for that. Today we are going to Thailand.
“If a tsunami ever hits here, we will float away on a raft of aprons and table cloths.”