June 23, 2015

Norma's Prayer Shawl

Earlier this year our former neighbor and good friend told us that his mom had breast cancer.  It didn't sound like things were good, but she was fighting it as best she could.
I couldn't do anything for the family and it was driving me nuts.
I had met Norma a couple of times when she was visiting them and we were all out in our yards.
I sat next to her while he son was preaching as a guest at a local church.
I remember asking her if she was nervous because he was new to preaching.
I was nervous for him!
No, she said.  She was fine.  I thought, "Wow!  What confidence she has in her son."
And she had every right to be confident in him because he did great.
When he called to let me know about his mom, I thought maybe I could knit a prayer shawl for her.  I'd never knit one before, but it just seemed like a right fit for this situation.
I talked to a friend of mine who had knit a couple of them and got some suggestions.
I looked all over Ravelry and finally decided on the tried and true pattern.
The pattern was k3, p3 and the yarn was Lion Brand Homespun.
I've never felt much love for Homespun.  I don't know if it's because it's such a 'loopy' kind of yarn or what.  I do know it's soft and makes wonderful shawls - we have a couple around here ourselves!
So off I went to Michaels and picked out the colorway.   

I'd read about how you should start the shawl with a prayer for the recipient and how you should continue to pray for them while knitting.  I am a one project knitter.  I know, I know.  You probably didn't realize those existed.  I'm a rare bird.  :)  I put away the socks I was knitting, which created a little anxiety for me.  I just felt this shawl was important.

Every day I picked it up with thoughts and prayers for Norma.
Every night when I put it back down I was mad at the yarn because I just didn't like to work with it.
I was exhausted.
I just kept plugging away trying to figure out what was wrong with me.
Was it the yarn?  Was it the unfinished socks looming over me?  What was it?
I finally finished it and delivered it to our neighbors with a little 'prayer shawl prayer' attached to it.
He delivered it to his mom around Mother's Day.  She said it was so nice and soft and told him to thank me for it.
I finished the socks I had left hanging and tried to recuperate from that exhausting knit.
I spoke to my friend who had helped me decide to make it in the first place.
She told me I was exhausted because of all the prayers and thoughts that went into it.
The knitting was more than just a physical action.  It was also a mental and spiritual one.
June 6th, he let me know that his mom used the shawl all the time and wanted to let me know.  She was even using it when he texted that to me.  He said I had blessed her.
She passed away that weekend.

When I look back I realize that the pattern was easy, the yarn not expensive, the time easily carved out.  But the thoughts that went into that shawl and the prayers made it special for me and, more importantly, I hope for Norma.
It was worth every single bit of aggravation.
I would make another prayer shawl in a minute.
The rewards for everybody involved are tremendous.

June 12, 2015

A Whole Year

I let a whole year slip by without one single post. 
I started several, but never finished them.
Sometimes life has a way of just needing to be lived instead of recorded on a blog.
Our lives are nowhere near last year.  We have moved on.
I don't think 'moved on' is appropriate.  I think we've drifted where life has taken us.
I still knit.  I still read.  I still sew.
I still love the same family.
But I think a lot more these days.
I think about what I want out of life.
How I love my family as a whole and as individuals.
How life is not going the way I planned and that I have to let go and live it according to His plan.
That letting go is hard for me.
That I have to trust Him instead of people.
People will sometimes let you down even if they do have the best of intentions.
Some people just don't want to be in your life as much as you want them to be.

My Mom always controlled things.  She controlled the way we ate, dressed, wore our hair,
spent holidays, who we dated....
I thought that's the way life was.  She said it, I did it, end of story.
But when the person who is in control is not in control anymore, what happens to the blind followers?
They shuffle around in the dark for a while.
Hopefully they get back in the light and find their own way.
I think I am finally seeing the light of day again.

My Mom is in the final stages of Alzheimer's.
I hate the disease.  I hate what it does to the person who has it.
I hate what it does to families who can't agree on the type of care needed.
I hate what it does to the people who are caring for that person.
It does not affect just the person diagnosed with it.
It's not the situation of they get it, they decline, they die, end of story.
The disease doesn't play that way.
Some people choose not to be around their loved ones during this time.
I understand that.
I am not that person - some days by choice, some days not so much.
I don't want praise for staying.
I don't want to be told I'm doing everything right, because I'm not.
I don't want to be told I'm doing everything wrong, because I'm not.
But also I don't want to be the one who gets the call in the middle of the night that she's fallen and needs to go the the emergency room for xrays.
I don't want to be the one who calls and finds out that she's 'agitated and combative' and she's spit her meds at her nurse again.
I don't want to be the one who sits in the parking lot at the nursing home praying that the visit will go well.  That she will know who I am today.  That she will actually say my name and know that it is me she is talking about and not someone from her past who isn't sitting there holding her hand.
I don't want to be the one who is told she has to be in a memory facility and I have to sign the papers to make it happen.
I don't want to be the one crying in the parking lot after a terrible visit.
But I am that one.

I am also the one who has been blessed beyond measure.
I know who my true friends are.
 I know that the disease affects people regardless of color, sexual orientation, religion, etc.  My group of friends has grown as a result and I have more of an understanding of people.
I know that my husband has been extremely patient with me for the past 30 years and has had more faith and confidence in me than I ever have.  I know he will be with me through thick and thin.
That he will do the necessary work I cannot bring myself to do.
He will go the nursing home when I can't bring myself to.
That he doesn't mind fixing dinner after a full day at work because he knows I need to sit and knit, sew or just sit to find some inner peace.

Yesterday as I sat with Mom and tried to calm her and get her to eat, I got a text from a dear family friend whose mother has been battling breast cancer.  She was being moved to the hospice floor of the hospital.  He kept me in the loop as to what was going on and how he was feeling.  When I got home I called someone dear to my heart to share what was going on with Mom and ended up learning his son, who is battling colon cancer at 40, was back in the hospital in terrible shape.  We all listen to one another.  We all pray for one another.  We are in this boat together.
Unfortunately these are not lessons you can learn by leading a life without pain.

All that to say that I'm still here.
I'm not the same person I was and that's a good thing.
If you have a family member with Alzheimer's, please reach out for help.
There are free services available.  They are hard to find, but when you do, you realize they are priceless anyway.
Don't beat yourself up.
We'll have answers to all of this one day.

June 10, 2014

Blast From the Past

When I was a little girl, Daddy worked on the Space Program in Florida.  It was such a big part of our lives, that it just became so 'normal'.  Watching the launches from our driveway, going to Kennedy Space Center, and seeing the changes in the space program were not a big deal after a while.  

As you can tell from these pictures, well, my sister and I weren't exactly enthused.

That's my Mom in the back.  She really, really, really teased her hair.  And the hairspray!!!!  We would stick to the bathroom floor!  Standing next to her is my grandfather's brother, Brooksie.  I loved him so much.  When he would come see us, he would pack his trunk with toys for all the kids in his neighborhood.  I was so jealous of those kids!  If you look really close, you can see he's got a cigarette in his hand.  Hard to remember a time that was still allowed in public buildings.

Ever the joker, when he went back home he called the local newspaper and told them that my Dad was the last to leave the rocket before the astronauts took off....they believed him....and they printed it!

May 29, 2014

More Thriftiness

Every once in a while I get a text from someone telling me they were at a garage sale, saw some knitting stuff, thought of me and that's it.  I appreciate the thought.  It means somebody is paying attention and knows what I like.  :)  However, this past weekend I got one of those texts from my niece.  She had been to an estate sale in her neighborhood and saw all kinds of knitting stuff and thought of me.  I replied something along the line of "and you are sending it all to me and I'm eternally grateful?"  Close.  She said she was thinking of going back and getting some $5 afghans and would look at the knitting stuff if I wanted her to.  Of course!  Through a series of texts early Saturday morning, she sent pictures and asked questions.  I don't really understand why the company handling the estate sale was selling the needles individually, but they were selling them and cheap!  I gave her my price limit and she did all the rest.  Wow!  What else can I say, but Wow!  This morning when the mailman rang my doorbell, I knew what was waiting for me and I was almost as excited as Harper when he sees the mailman.  

This yarn also found it's way into the box.  She told me I was going to have to send it back - in a different form!  I think that can be arranged.  Nine skeins for $3.  Not bad at all.  As soon as she tells me what her yarn wants to be when it grows up I'll get busy knitting it with some of my 'vintage' finds!

May 28, 2014

Thrifty Find

Check out this thrifty find!
My future daughter-in-law found this through the thrift shop where her grandmother works.  She sent a text and a picture to ask if I wanted it.  YES!  She sent another book on cleaning which was filled with some great ideas, but I'm a little partial to this book....  Just sayin.  I will have to go through the stash and see if I can find something that will be perfect to knit a pair of socks using this book.

I'll have some more thrifty finds to share with you later this week.  I got a text from my niece about an estate sale in her neck of the woods.  Knitting needles!  Yarn!  Was I interested?  YES!  YES!  YES!  Those should be here any day now.  I can't wait!  She also threw in some yarn she wants sent back to her - in a different form.  She's a clever one!  ;)

May 20, 2014

Knitting Goodness

May has been a good month for knitting goodness.  I finally finished another pair of socks.  I have no idea how they turned out to be identical twins.  It's rare when I'm able to do that!  Once again, this yarn was hand dyed by my amazing Ravelry buddy, Aredhel.  I think these were dyed with Easter egg dye.  (Correct me if I'm wrong Aredhel.)

Look at these great books!  We have a discount store in our town called "Ollie's".  You might have one too.  If you do - go check them out.  I'll wait......
You will find a bunch of crap and then you will find WONDERFUL KNITTING BOOKS!

What makes them so wonderful?  Well, besides the fact that they are current and of interest.....they are cheap!

Check out those prices!  I don't know when on earth I'll ever have a baby in my life to knit for, but for $3.99 I'm willing to buy the book and wait!  Bean is into Fair Isle and I am into socks, so I knew I had to buy those.

This sweet little thing came to live with me for Mother's Day.  I have been admiring the little sheep they have at Plow and Hearth.  Apparently somebody has been listening more than I realized I had been talking!  
What a wonderful surprise!  Now....where to put it????

May 9, 2014

Blogger is a Booger!

I have had a terrible time getting Blogger to work for me since I downloaded Internet Explorer 11.  I didn't have a lot of time for blogger for a while, so when it wasn't working I threw in the towel!  But my life has changed tremendously (well, I think it has) in the past eight months or so and I finally had the time to mess with Blogger.

Where do I begin????  Some of you may know that my Mom has Alzheimer's.  My Dad died in 2009 and Mom's symptoms started to really show.  Doctor visits were not helpful.  We thought she was grieving terribly.  Finally after grief counselling and more doctor visits, she was found to have Alzheimer's.  She was able to live alone for a long time, all things considered.  Then we started noticing things were getting worse.  The nurses who came to visit her twice a week had been telling us for months that she should not live alone.  Mom, her sister and father had taken care of her mother when she had Alzheimer's.  I just naturally assumed if Mom ever had it, that is what we would do.  Easier said than done.  I applaud those who are actually able to successfully be caregivers 100% of the time.  I couldn't.  

We had a few major setbacks and were pushed into a corner of finding full time care for her.  I cried.  We did research.  I cried. We went to support groups.  I cried.  We consulted with family.  I cried.  We toured facilities.  I cried.  We hired a lawyer to help us buy more time.  I cried.  We went to therapy.  I cried.  We were given an ultimatum.  I cried.

As you can see, I cried a lot.  Finally, we exhausted all of our options.  We were faced with the only decision we had and that was a facility I was not wild about.  I had heard rumors through our support group and I was scared to death.  So, two weeks before Christmas, we had to place Mom.  (I cried.)  It was the first Christmas in almost 50 years I had not spent with Mom.  They recommended we give her two weeks to adjust and that meant not going to see her at all.  I called daily.  Sometimes they called us if there were problems, and there were problems.  When we went to see her the first time she seemed adjusted.  She didn't know who we were until we actually spoke to her even though she was looking directly at us.  (I didn't cry then.  I waited until we were in the car.)  I wish she was in a state of the art facility with a 1:1 nurse to patient ratio, but that's impossible to find.  I try to see her at least twice a week.  That doesn't always work out.  I don't think she knows how often I come.  Even when I come often, she asks me to come more often.  Some of the nurses are super, some not so super.  It's an older facility, so there are things needing repairs.  Mom is clean when I see her and always in clean clothes.  She loses her glasses, but that appears to be a normal thing around there as it was here before she moved.  She goes on field trips out to breakfast with a small group the Activity Director feels will enjoy it.  She's been to the movies too!  I tease her that she has a more active social life than I do.

I still see a therapist who is affiliated with the memory center to help with all the adjustments.  I've been encouraged to resume old hobbies.  So I am knitting again!!!!  Wow!  Have I missed knitting!  
See the socks I made?  My dear friend from Ravelry dyed the yarn for me sometime back and I finally got around to using it.  I opted for my simple old generic pattern to help me find my groove.  

My son's girlfriend started designing embroidery patterns and asked me to test one for her.
So I did!  If you want to make your own, you can order a pattern here:  Fox Embroidery Pattern

Then my sister-in-law saw a pattern for a mermaid pattern.  She had to show it to our niece-in-law who happens to LOVE mermaids.  And since I am the only knitter in the family, I had the honor of making it for sweet little Delaney.  She wore it in her six month pictures at the beach, but this was a quick pic her Mom took shortly after she got it in the mail.  I love it!  

All of that to let you know that I am still alive and well.  That I am still knitting and doing all other sorts of crafts that I love to do.  That I am going to do my best to update much more often.  And that I can always use prayers for my family as we still adjust to the new changes in our lives.  Thanks!