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.