“Had it not been for my granddaughter, I wouldn’t be here today,” said Ellen S. Federoff, 63, of Randallstown.
“I died two years ago,” she said. “My heart stopped, my kidneys failed, and I was in a coma. People told me that while I was in a coma, my daughter, Rose, was there. She took my hand and put it on her belly and said, ‘Mom, this is the baby. … Mom, don’t do to me what your mother did to you.’ You see, we were supposed to be a three-generation family, but while I was pregnant with Rose, my mother died.”
Federoff survived, and her beloved granddaughter, Chloe Isla Blackmore, was born two months later. Although Federoff has been mostly bedridden since then, she hasn’t been idle, and she is a devoted grandmother to Chloe, now 2 and living in Westfield, N.J.
On bed rest, Federoff has spent much of her time stitching her award-winning needlework. She first learned to do needlepoint when she was 9 years old, but since her confinement, Federoff has had time to produce a huge body of work.
Almost every year since 1996, she has entered the Maryland State Fair’s needlepoint competitions. So far, she has won more than 160 ribbons. “Once I win, my husband, Fred, takes pictures of my ribbons. Then he frames the photos,” Federoff said. “God love my husband; he takes care of my IVs three or four times a day.”
This year, Federoff placed first, second or third in 21 of the 22 needlepoint competitions she entered. Among her submissions were a Chanukah-themed wall hanging that won second place and a wall hanging of the Orioles bird logo that won first place. A pillow with an image of Betty Rubble of “The Flintstones” took second place, as did a stuffed rocking horse. A figurine of Betsy Ross holding the American flag placed first.
In the crochet division, Federoff won first place for a doll-size ballet dress.
“When I’m in bed, either I read or stitch. It gives me something to do, and I know I’ll have something for [my granddaughter]— that’s most important,” said Federoff. “Or I have a present for someone, or I will enter it at the State Fair.”
Federoff said that needlepoint has always been part of her life and acknowledges she has always been artistic.
“With needlepoint, I’m creative in that I don’t necessarily follow the color scheme or the stitch pattern,” she said. “I like to have different textures. I do what pleases me.” And best of all?
“I got a nice surprise this morning,” she added. “My ‘baby,’ Courtney — she’s 31, called and said, ‘Mom, I’m super proud of you.’”
Simone Ellin is JT senior features reporter