Friday, September 26, 2008


I’ve always been interested in and loved handmade quilts. When I was in my 20s I tried a quilting class, but found it too frustrating. I didn’t have the patience to be so accurate and precise. It was a large class and I didn’t receive the individual help I needed. So, I dropped the class and all hopes of ever quilting and went on to enjoy them from afar.

When I was married, Bill and I took a trip out east and while in Lancaster, PA where we drove down country lanes until we found an Amish farm where the lady of the house sold quilts. We bought one – a bear claw pattern – all hand stitched. It’s beautiful. I haven’t used it in years, but it is carefully packed away safe and sound. On my many trips to Georgia my sister and I have found a place that sells beautiful locally made quilts for very reasonable prices and I have considered purchasing one or two of them over the years.

Recently I became interested in making quilts again. I know there are all new methods of cutting the material, sewing the squares, piecing, etc. I found a small, friendly quilt store outside of Cedarburg, WI and signed up for a beginning class.

I’m enjoying it. There is only one other woman in the class so we get great assistance from the instructor, Diane. She is very patient and helpful and the class is fun. We are making a table runner. While I’m not happy about my choices of fabric (they looked good at the time), I am enjoying the process. And, while I feel like I am doing more ripping out than sewing together, I’m not frustrated by my lack of precision. I am looking at it as a learning experience.

During this time of stress, with Dad dying, Phil’s father ill, family issues, etc., I’m finding even the process of ripping apart my many lopsided squares is soothing. My hands are busy and I feel like I am creating something of worth. Slowly, but surely I am getting more and more accurate (a quilting foot on my sewing machine made a huge difference).

And, I have started several more table runners as holiday presents for some of my gal pals, in materials I really like. Ha! I hope they do, too!

I have signed up for the next level class in Cedarburg and am on the waiting list for another class at a quilt store closer to home. I love looking and touching all of the different fabrics, imagining putting colors and fabrics together and dreaming of someday snuggling under a quilt I made with Phil .

Sometimes things you really want to do or try need to be put on hold. Almost 30 years later I am starting something I think I will pursue for a long time. It was worth the wait!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dragonfly Miracles

Yesterday I looked out my back hallway window to check on Lucy Lou, who was sunning her old doggie bones in the late afternoon sun. I noticed something(s) flying and buzzing around my yard. I went outside and found dozens of dragonflies in the air.

It must just be the time of year. The dragonflies where the huge, double winged, green species. They were beautiful. Upon closer notice I could see little white insects also flying around, which were dinner for the dragonflies. The dragonflies darted, they hovered, they flew backward and I even saw one do a perfect triple somersault. Those poor little gnats didn’t stand a chance to these flying aces. The other amazing thing is that they basically stayed in my little yard. Occasionally one flew over into the neighbor’s yard, but flew back into mine again.

Dragonflies have held a special place in my heart ever since Phil gave me a beautiful dragonfly pendent (which he thought was a butterfly). They seem to be messengers for me (us) and when I see them I believe they bring good energy. You can check out their animal/insect totem by clicking here. There have been times in our relationship when I was worried about Phil or concerned about where we were headed and I would see a dragonfly and know that all would be well. And, it is.

I stood outside for a long time, smiling as the dragonflies zoomed all around me. Even Lucy Lou watched them, her ears pointed and alert. We both laughed with amazement, Lucy Lou with a silly doggie grin and me laughing at the thrill of all those dragonflies.. Phil was here and he came out for a while to watch them, too. It was truly an incredible sight to see and experience. I’m glad Phil experienced it with me.

In a short while they were gone.

Today I left work early (thank goodness for FMLA time) and went out to see my Dad. I got there early enough to feed him lunch, which the aides appreciate as they are always are busy at meal time. Afterwards I put a blanket on his lap and a hat on his head and Dad and I went out to enjoy a beautiful September day. I wheeled him all the way down to the Bark River, which runs through the property his health facility is on. We sat and watched the water flow, the birds fly and the trees move in the breeze. I knew Dad enjoyed being outside with me. There were dragonflies all along the banks of the river. Many different kinds, but none like the ones I had seen the night before in my own backyard.

I tried to show him the dragonflies, but I don't think he could move his head or eyes enough to see them. I told him about the beautiful experience I had with the dragonflies in my yard. His eyes flickered a little. His speech is almost incomprehensible, but he tried to talk. Maybe he understood. I'd like to think he did.

I hope when Dad passes it is on the wings of a dragonfly, the light creatures of the air.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Letting Go

My father is now is hospice care. He has been for a few weeks now.

I thought increasing his care to include hospice would be more difficult that it was. The social worker, Jenny, was very caring and understanding. She went over all of the details with me. I signed lots of forms (my sister’s and I have Power of Attorney and Power of Health) and she explained what this would mean to my Dad’s general care.

He will stay in the same room he is currently in. The same nurses will care for him on a daily basis. Hospice workers, very familiar with the facility, will come in and give additional care – adding to what he is already receiving. There are additional support people – nurses, various therapists including a music therapist, social worker, Chaplin, etc.

My Dad is now 90 with Alzheimer’s. In May and June he had a couple of seizures, which affected his ability to control his tremors, especially in his hands and arms. More recently, there have been times where his arms move in a “flapping” motion. His right leg jerks almost constantly. He has gone down hill rapidly, especially since his 90th birthday on July 23.

The main hospice nurse, Jay, calls me several times a week. He has been around for years at the health care center where Dad is and got to know him well before his decline. He is shocked and sad to see Dad in his current condition. He feels Dad doesn’t have too much time left, but wants him to be more comfortable. Jay has been adjusting Dad’s meds to get his muscle to relax and the spasms to cease. Now, these nurses know what they are taking about. This is their job and they understand the signs of decline in elderly people. My Dad has always been somewhat of a favorite with the staff. He was very personable, friendly, easy going and willing to do things. Plus, he loves to sing and use to sing to them which they all enjoyed.

So, I don’t question that my Dad needs additional care and that his time is limited. And, more importantly, I know that the staff really cares about him and he receives excellent care.

When all this started happening I went out there one morning. Patti, one of the regular nurses, stopped me . ‘Beware,” she said, “he is really having a bad day.” I stood frozen outside his door. He was sitting in his wheelchair, mouth hanging open, his arms outstretched and “flapping.” I couldn’t go in. I muffled a sob and walked down the hallway. Patti steered me to the social worker’s office where I cried and cried.

But it is OK to do that. Now that I am over the shock of what a bad day could be, I able to once again spend time with him. Talk to him, sing to him (he will still try to sing with me if he is alert), stroke his hands and arms, face and head. Just be with him.

That’s all I can do.