By Alan Sorensen
by Alan Sorensen
Jim Christensen, 1957-95;
Mitch W. Burfield, 5-4-60 through 4-13-89;
Kathy Bauer, 8-10-64 through 2-16-95;
Bauers young son, Stevie;
Are three local AIDS victims whose lives are memorialized on panels of the AIDS quilt now on display in the Havre High School library. The younger Bauer was represented in his own panel that didnt make the trip to Havre and by a panel that did: 1994 Three little Montana lives lost.
There were others, too, whose panels werent there, but who were remembered during the quilts reception ceremony in Havre at 2 p.m. Sunday. It was a ceremony marked by quiet tribute, hugs, and smiles of remembrance.
Relatives of three AIDS victims, two who dont have panels on display in Havre, shared the last days of their loved ones lives through memories.
Marit Ita spoke of her brother, Jim Christensen, who died four years ago this month and whose panel was prominently displayed on the quilt. She also read from a letter their mother wrote.
After the opening ceremonies, Ita told The Daily News that she hopes that having her brothers name on the AIDS quilt will help people rethink their actions.
People dont have to get AIDS, Ita said. They need to educate themselves and rethink their actions. This opens eyes to what reality is. The quilt really stresses reality.
AIDS isnt just in the big cities; its here at the present.
As if to bolster Itas argument that AIDS is a clear and present, but preventable danger, Traci Henderson of Rocky Boy spoke of her sister, Michelle LaMere, who died just three weeks ago due to complications from AIDS.
Henderson said LaMere was shunned by friends when she was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. She was pregnant at the time and had difficulty finding a doctor.
From being reasonably healthy last October, Henderson said, LaMere went to being wheelchair bound and then to being bedridden. LaMere lost all of her hair during the ordeal.
As LaMeres sister, Henderson said it was her duty to go to the coast early this month and take care of LaMeres funeral arrangements. She spent LaMeres last few remaining days with her.
She accepted herself and she accepted that she had AIDS, Henderson said. LaMere died April 11 at the age of 26.
Henderson said that the subject hasnt really been discussed, but that it is likely that her family will make a quilt panel in memory of LaMere.
Roger Groven, who died seven years ago on May 2, was remembered in eulogies by his brother and sister-in-law.
The one thing my brother did was through his example, he showed theres no reason to fear death, Don Groven said. There was never a person who faced death the way my brother did. If you do things right and prepare yourself, theres nothing to fear.
City council president Helen Hill was on hand to welcome the quilt block to Havre.
Personally, for myself, I appreciate this opportunity and what it means, Hill said. The quilt is such a visual aid.
AIDS blankets the world, she said, and the quilt can serve as its comforter.
These quilts and messages represent that kind of comfort , she said. Each block of the quilt represents people who are victims, people who know victims around the world.
Sue Swan, a member of the Hill County AIDS Task Force, said the quilt has become so large now, more than 46,000 panels, that it will never again be displayed in one piece at one time. If pulled together, the quilt now would cover more than 10 football fields.
The display in the HHS library was erected Saturday by Alec McIntosh with help from task force members. It will be remain up through 8 p.m. today and perhaps for a while Tuesday morning.
The display includes a Havre High quilt panel that guests can sign, pamphlets about HIV/AIDS, and video presentations.
Its visit is being sponsored locally by the Havre High School Key Club and Hill County AIDS Task Force.