Forget Halloween – This is more important

Life and Happiness

As many of you are aware – I hate Halloween. This is just one of the many posts I have on the dreaded subject. So this year I’ve decided to go another route (and because you’re all probably tired of my Halloween rants.)

Tomorrow is my mom’s birthday. She’ll be 74. In our ever-increasing disease-fighting culture this milestone seems like it’s not that significant. Many people live past their 70s and into their 80s now. In fact, it’s almost a given. Advancements in technology have prolonged our lives. And if you looked at my mom you would probably say she doesn’t look like she is 74 (most people do say that, actually – a trait I am thankful to have inherited is that we do not look our age).

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However, for the past thirty years my mother has been battling emphysema (better known now as COPD). As a result, she’s been on oxygen continuously for about the last ten years (intermittently before then) and has been through a number of stints in the hospital. (More than any person’s fair share…) About two years ago, she suffered the flu and pneumonia so badly, we feared we’d lose her but she doesn’t even remember much of the hospital stay.

And she keeps plugging along.

When she was first diagnosed, when the disease was little known, her doctor told her she’d have about a year to live. She spent the better part of that year in bed, ready for the end and beating herself up for falling ill. After that year ended, she decided to fight back. She found a new doctor who gave her a much better prognosis and the will to live.

She quit smoking, started exercising, and researched (before the internet) what it meant to have emphysema. She joined a support group, found friends who empathized and began to live again.

Of course she’s had down times. People who suffer long-term illnesses often have bad, even horrible days…sometimes weeks…sometimes years. But she’s persevered.

Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Her life is hard – probably three times, or more, difficult than yours or mine. And although she says frequently that she’s ready to meet God, she still fights to put off that day as long as she can.

So now, at an age she thought she’d never see, I want to say:

Good job, Mom. That doctor said you wouldn’t make it this far…I think you may have outlived him.

How about that?

Happy birthday and I love you.

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To find out more about emphysema, COPD and other lung diseases, or to contribute to research, go to http://www.lung.org/

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Is Crocheting A Lost Art?

Life and Happiness

Last weekend I attended a craft show with my Mom. She makes these finely crafted crocheted doilies and some other small crafts. Her mother taught her years ago to crochet with the larger weight yarn, but it really took off for her after she was diagnosed with emphysema about 30 years ago (wow… 30 years… time flies.) She had nothing to do since she couldn’t work anymore and found herself restless sitting in front of the TV. First she tackled afghan blankets with the heavier weighted yarn, but in the summer she found that it made her too hot!

So she began to experiment with various new patterns and she came across the lighter yarn that doilies are made from. She became enamored with the challenge of the smaller thread and the intricate patterns. She has not stopped her crochet hook ever since.

20131124_162757My favorite doily of my Mom’s. I have several on display in my house. 

For a few years we attended several craft fairs a year, selling her wares and building up a client base. It became a sort of social event because we would know so many people at each fair. But as the years went on the fairs became fewer and far between. The people we had met and bonded with slowly began to get older and stopped coming to the fairs. Mom whittled down her fairs to just one local event.

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Small stars that Mom crocheted for our church.

She crocheted less too due to her increasingly bad health and due to lack of sales. She only had so much space to store her delicate works of art. But her fingers kept going, passing the time, even if there wasn’t anyone to enjoy them.

Then last year I convinced her to try this new craft fair. And I’m glad we did.

It was like her skill was being seen again for the first time. So many people stopped to lightly touch her craftsmanship and we heard comments like “this is a lost art”, “how beautiful!”, and “did you really make this?”

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Mom sat in her chair, intently watching each customer, nodding her head and smiling when asked questions. I pointed to her when they would look at me. “Oh no, I don’t crochet – it’s all her” I would say, giving her the much deserved credit.

I know before long she won’t be with me anymore and I regret that I can’t crochet to save my life. I know I’ll miss her handmade items adorning every piece of furniture in my home – I’m glad I have as many now as I do. I hope they last forever.

Do you have, or had, a loved one who is a crafter? What skill do you wish you had to share with your loved ones?