Monday, April 29, 2019

May Day (almost)

(Warning...not really quilting related post)

Confessions...The last 3 months have been a blur. Four if you want to be honest. My blogging and social media presence on facebook have been sporadic, if at all. I will go weeks without even getting on the computer, then think it's high time I posted, but not really have the words to say. Life works that way.

In the past, when issues in my personal life were rampant, I still had quilting as my salvation. This year has been different. I'm not burned out, but it has been challenging to find the motivation to do the things I would really like to do, like finish the top that has been started for months. Or quilt the next piece on the frame. I have always used quilting as my fuel to restart that which is crooked in life, but this time it is taking something different. The fact that quilting cannot get me back on course is stressful, and confusing. I'm not one for rediscovering what works and what doesn't, being that creature of habit. Some days it's easier to crawl into a hole and vow to try again tomorrow.

My dad was in the hospital several times in 2018, for anywhere from a few days to as long as 2 weeks. It was unsettled, but somehow he always got better, went home and life mostly returned to normal. On new year's eve 2018, he went back into the hospital. Except for coming home for 6 days at the end of January, he was there until March 31st, when he lost his battle. He had recurrent unexplained GI bleeding, then congestive heart failure & fluid retention, then kidney failure. As we learned through this process, all of these things are interrelated, and are extremely challenging to treat. When you get one of them managed, you have wreaked havoc on the other. He went on dialysis a week before he died, something he never wanted to do. In February when I was in Florida teaching, he had heart valve surgery which was supposed to solve one of his issues. The fact that it may have was masked by the continual decline he suffered in other areas. They said he had hospital-induced dementia. This once very intelligent person, who read excessively, was barely a cloud of recognition. He could not focus or hold down decent conversations some days. He couldn't sleep there. For several days of his last week he was put in a drug-induced state so he could get rest. It was all pretty miserable watching the immense decline, and how hospitals treat (and overtreat). In the end, our family had to make some very tough decisions about his care, knowing that if he could tell us what he wanted, it would probably be anything but what he was getting. Losing one of my parents is hard. It's agonizing seeing my mother go through this. She's been with him since she was 16. I want to feel whole again, but am slowly coming to terms with the fact that whole will take on a new meaning different from before. I have lost grand parents before, and a dear friend from high school when she was just 39. It was sad then, but somehow life just went on. This experience has sent me soul-searching.
There has not been a traditional service yet, as my dad and our family are anything but traditional. This is something I am so grateful for. The week following his death just seemed too all-consuming to possibly squeeze planning a quickie memorial service into. I don't know how or why most people do that. It feels so contrary to who I am and how I process grief. Hopefully my mom feels the same, as she is clearly taking the brunt of this. Though we do have a service planned for mid-May, I am already being constrained by the anxiety of going. I'm a private person, and going in front of her family and friends feeling broken is not where I want to be. I don't need everybody else's sadness to process my own. I just prefer my aloneness.

I am managing my own feelings through working on my own quilt (above) for a few weeks. I figured it was better to screw up something of my own than anybody else's...LOL!  I took it off of the frame today for a look, and it's "getting there". It's not terrible, but I'm still waiting for that feeling of being fully invested. I have some different ideas for this quilt, and how it will finish, and I'm sure that many will be taken aback by my choices, but hey, that's life, and it's my decision. The quilting is most definitely influenced by my coping mechanism. I have rationalized that it's ok for this to be different than past quilts. The process is helping with all I need to process.
(my quilt "Escape")

My salvation through this has been music. It's been in my ears 8+ hours a day. Maybe this helps my mind from wandering and thinking too much; maybe it's taking me back to a time and place when I knew nothing could go wrong, or if it did I was just too young and optimistic to care. Throughout my teens and twenties, I lived to hear the songs of Queen, having most of their albums. Kids I went to high school either loved them or hated them. You know which camp I am in. I went to high school in very-conservative southern Mississippi. The fact that we knew Freddie was gay tainted the image of this fabulous group with so many. I loved every song they did then, and still do. It's the music of my happy youth. It's the concert I snuck out to go to, and nearly got caught doing so. I remember it like it was yesterday. Until last weekend (when my 14-yr old announced it), I don't think my mother was even aware of the lie of her 16-yr old. Why, 36 years later would I even care? The resurgence of their music since the movie came out has been wonderful. It's fun to see a new generation introduced to their music (even if 2 of my 3 kids claim it is attrocious "How can you possibly like music 45 years old?"...I roll my eyes!). Not having a turntable anymore, I went and bought all CDs except 2 from the early 80's just to torture my non-loving kids! Gosh it's fun to be a parent sometimes...LOL! You will have to wait to see how exactly this coping mechanism has migrated into my current quilt.

Through the events of the past month, it took listening to Innuendo (their last studio album) in the car one day for me to realize that was the last thing Freddie sang with the group. As much as I hated to come to the realization that Queen as I knew and loved was gone (and yes I did know he died 27 years ago when it happened), it symbolized something bigger. It took this music to make me finally break down over the loss of my father, and the loss to our family. What began as a means to cope with grief, and give me peace and structure, touched a sensitive nerve too. Freddie and my dad were nothing alike, neither in person or what they did for me. But as sure as Queen's music and musicians still endure without Freddie, I know that our family, more importantly "I" will survive too, and endure whatever life gives me. Not all steps will be easy, but all steps are walkable, one day at a time. It was a poignant breakdown moment.


Onward and upward, friends. Life is not always easy or fair. Find what makes you happy. Do what brings a peace and solace to your days, even if it is 180 degrees to what another might do.

My next post will be quilting related, I promise. I am working on one as we speak!

25 comments:

drudewitt said...

Beautiful post. I hope it has been cathartic for you in some way. Your quilt is gorgeous and will be a family treasure. Your words about your father harken back to my own about my dad when he passed quite a few years ago, and I do understand and can relate. My father passed in June and we held his memorial gathering in early September that same year...just a gathering of dear friends and family at a pub, no less. We looked at pictures, listened to music he loved and we reminisced. He would have loved it, I think.

I pray you find comfort and peace. Your work is always inspirational and you will get back to that place when you are ready. You take the time you need!

A fan!

Bonnie said...

beautifully said; loss is so many things, but manageable like you say, one step at a time; just like quilting - one line of stitching, one idea, another idea, another line of stitching, at a time. time, heart, tears, smiles, memories, the yin and yang of sad and happy....all tied up with threads of love.

Sewing Junkie said...

We have all been in your shoes. I have lost both my parents and my Mother was just three years ago. You are at the stage of coping. It will be a process of good and bad days. Remember the good times and and hold on to that memory. Hope things are going to get better soon. Chris

TwinMom said...

Dear Margaret, I completely relate to your quilting process carrying you through troubled waters, as well as your sense of disconnection now. Allow yourself to grieve dear soul! In whatever way you need to. The loss of your father has broken your heart. It is to be expected. Give yourself the time and space you need. Your community will be here when you are ready. Cyber Hugs!

sandys731 said...

This really touched my heart and I hope that the coming days bring you peace.

Lynette said...

It's not surprising that quilting hasn't been providing the same quality of return-to-normal that it did in the past. Losing your dad is such a profound change, it's a completely new "normal" that has to come for you, not a "return to". I'm so glad you have a show quality quilt that you can pour some new approaches into. Who cares if some people can't relate to the directions you're going to take it? Queen's music has always been fun to me, and I look forward to seeing how that influence plays out. This will probably be one of your very most important quilts when all is said and done.

And about the sporadic communications - You take all the "You" time you need, Margaret. Use your music, enjoy your kids, enjoy torturing your kids with things they don't appreciate (heh!!), and channel your process into your quilting until you get through all the decompression you need to do so that you can find an equilibrium again. We're all rooting for you.

Sewgirl said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Losing ones parents is right up there on the pain scale. Thanks for sharing what’s on your heart. Hugs to you and your family in this difficult time.

LoriM said...

Much love, Margaret!

Unknown said...

Grieving is a process. No one can tell us their experience and expect us to be like them. It is good that music helps. I don't believe in funerals. I know when I lost my husband last year that I wanted to celebrate the wonderful man he was. We were married for 16 years and he was sick for 8 1/2 of those. I was lucky he made the decision (emphatically) that he didn't want a ventilator and stood up to his children and brother. I backed him a hundred %. The hospital also. We had such a fun, funny life that I have lots to laugh about. He didn't want people traveling in the winter when they might get hurt so we had it late in the spring. A short service and dinner. Time for people to socialize and enjoy time together. You will find with time that the wonderful times will come back. Some don't talk about those they lost but I think it is cathartic. My grandsons who lost two grandpas in 3 months want "grandpa stories". The ones that make them laugh. I am sending you lots of hugs and love the piece you are working on. Only do what you want when you want because not just your heart needs to heal your body does to and if you push it your body will do weird things to tell you that you are adding stress. Take care of yourself and as much as we love to see your pics. We also are a compassionate group and know that people need time.

Michelle said...

Thanks for sharing Margaret. Grief hits everyone differently but one thing that helped me when I lost a parent was reading others stories -to know that what I was experiencing was normal, I wasn’t going crazy. So what you wrote might help someone some day. Drifting through days is a legit reaction. Day by day and eventually they gradually get better.

LateBloomer said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I too have been in your shoes. My father, who had a neurological disease, died as I was transferring him from his lift chair to his hospital bed. I saw the light go out of his eyes and held him as he dad. He was only 72. My mom was also there and I remember clearly how intensely I feared I would lose her too. It was a beautiful sunny day and it just felt so odd that life kept moving around us. I love quilting insanely but I couldn't quilt for months. It hurts so badly and while quilting is therapy, it is also a joy and a puzzle and a challenge and we just can't do that while we grieve. I got a memorial tattoo on my ankle 1 week after and the pain was good! It made me understand why women tear out their hair and beat their own breast when they grieve. You have to give yourself time. At some point in the future you will want to do a little quilting and you'll recognize that you are beginning to heal. Hugs. Carla

Unknown said...

beautifully said. good you can let some of your feeling out now.

Colleen said...

Well said

Lin McQ said...

I’m sorry for your loss, Margaret. Remember to be kind and patient with yourself. Grief is very hard work and very personal. Hugs to you and your Mom.

DeborahB said...

Thank you for sharing your story and I'm so sorry about your father. We lost my father in law in late January and are just pulling together his memorial for mid-May. It's taking us time, too. Sending hugs.

Rebecca Grace said...

Margaret, my heart goes out to you. I lost my dad two years ago and your experiences with the hospital decline were very familiar to me and evoked what our family went through. I have a needleturn applique project that is stagnant because I was working on it in the waiting room and a part of me just can't bear to go back to it. When I pick up the blocks I remember dad asking me about what I was making... Whew!

By the way, I saw your Secret Garden quilt at Paducah last week and it took my breath away. So much more magnificent in person than in pictures.

Wishing you and your family peace and healing.

Farm Quilter said...

I am so very sorry for your loss. You will find your new normal, but everything is just a bit different. I am right there with you with even sewing being difficult! Until I saw Bohemian Rhapsody, I didn't even know I liked Queen!! Now I'd like to get all their albums.

Острига said...

Life goes on and you will cope. I very much wish it to you.

Mary E said...

It’s so difficult to lose a parent. It makes you feel like an orphan somehow. Big changes involving grief usually seem to involve some feelings of detachment from that which used to give us stability. But those feelings will become less intense and you will regain that love you had for what you have been doing. My youngest D went through 5 years of severe mental illness. During that time I couldn’t play my piano or violin. The will to do it had been sapped by my grieving for the child who had disappeared. But she started to recover and now at least I play in church. Just observe where you are in your grieving process and let it happen. My deep sympathies on your loss.

momto1 said...

Wishing you comfort. Everyone grieves differently. Don't measure yourself by what others think you should be doing now. I grieved for ages after my father died, and his experience changed the way I look at the medical community forever. You have the support of a lot of people.

lvkwilt said...

So glad that you respected your Dad's wishes...this is why Hospice insists (actually has you sign an agreement) that no medical intervention will be taken once a person is in their last days. They just make people as comfortable as they can and support the patient and the family. I know your Dad didn't want to live like that. As I'm closer to the end of my life than I am the beginning, it is natural to think of these things. My parents have both been gone for years, but I was alone with my mother when she passed and it was so peaceful. It isn't ever easy, but we all get through it. My MIL had dementia (also made worse by hospitalizations and medications) and did things that she would have never done had she been "in her right mind." She would be so embarrassed if she realized it. Remember the good times and tell your loved ones how much you love them. Be there for your Mom...that's all one can do. Hope you find inner peace soon. Your quilts are always amazing and this one is no exception!

Patty Sliney said...

Margaret, my heart just aches for you. I have lost both parents, each was devastating for me. My father was larger than life. His friends spanned the globe. We had standing room only, hundreds came for his service from all around the world, standing room only, pouring outside the little church. We piped him out - what he wanted and would have loved. We are all thinking of you during this extremely difficult, soul-searching time, Man of your fans and followers have been through this and we are collectively giving you our love and support. You are such an inspiration to all of us quilters, so know we are sending you good thoughts and prayers for healing.

Trish said...

My heart aches as I read your story! I hope you find comfort and peace, as well as mojo!

Scrappy Gal Quilt Co. said...

I am sorry for your loss Margaret, thank you for sharing. I hope you find peace -- it will come one stitch at a time.
Sandy

Angiegary said...

Your quilt is beautiful. Sorry for your lost. Psalm 23.