Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Another trip down memory lane...

There is something about this time of year that keeps me traveling down memory lane. Maybe it's the season as the earth winds down and pulls into itself to prepare for winter (well, if you're in the northern hemisphere that is -- hello to anyone who is just launching into spring!). Maybe it's the days shortening. Maybe it's just me. One of the things I've been thinking about lately is how I ever became a quilter in the first place.

I know one thing that happened that even made the whole thing possible was getting my first sewing machine. It was seven years ago. I had sewn before then, a home ec class in eighth grade. A few Halloween costumes. And, a few blankies. But -- nothing major, nothing that would make me think that I would become fabric and thread obsessed. I didn't even own a sewing machine -- I just used my Dad's. Yep -- you read it right, my Dad owned the sewing machine in the house. As much as my Mom taught me about crafts and a joy in handcrafts -- she's not much for sewing machines. She knows how to use one (I'm pretty sure) but, well, she'd rather do just about anything else rather than use one (sorry Mom -- the blue fairy costume isn't an example --your sister ratted you out on that one). And no, Dad wasn't a quilter either. He used the machine to mend his jeans and pants. He used it to make repairs to his "costume" (and forgive me if anyone from this group reads the word costume here) for his hobby. And there was no mistaking that though I was allowed to use it (even after I broke the older one -- hey -- it was a 1960's Singer and when those plastic cogs go, a new machine is a much cheaper option than repair!), it was his machine.

Anyway -- seven years ago Mom and Dad were packing up the house and getting ready to move. Mom had gotten a new job half way across the country. Only one problem. Remember those blankies I talked about? Well -- I had some fabric Mom and I had purchased to make a Halloween one for myself (ok -- confession here, the "blankies" are technically quilts -- I guess -- one patch quilts that are birthed with some lofty polyester batting and tied, but quilts -- and no, I don't have any photos). But -- well, no machine meant no Halloween throw. Hmmnn...and with the distance to Mom and Dad's new place, it wasn't like I was going to be able to just run over and work on it the way I had been planning. So Dad made me a deal -- if I would make the blanket for Mom (hunh?!? umm...that was supposed to be for ME!?!?) he would leave the machine with me. Given the price of shipping, the chance for damage in transit, and the likelihood of me lugging it on a plane -- in essence it was an exchange. And a pretty darned fair one. All I had to do was promise to finish it for Halloween. Since this conversation took place in June -- not a problem.

Only, you see, I didn't keep up my end of the deal. I didn't get the blanket done for Halloween that year. Shortly after they moved, Dad had some serious pain in his back. He joked about not being as young as he once was and doing too much when they moved. Eventually he went to the doctor and started physical therapy. Again, more jokes -- but the pain kept on getting worse. Then he became jaundiced. It was cancer -- but what kind? A few days after Labor Day we found out. He had pancreatic cancer. This was not the best case scenario we had hoped for. The next month was a blur of plane trips, doctors visits, hospice workers, calls to family, arrangements you never want to make, DNRs, gallows humor, and goodbyes. How my mother remained so strong, I will never know but she taught me a whole new definition of strength and grace that month. And finally, when the last "I love you" had been said -- and after giving Mom and I a last thumbs up and ok sign to let us know it would be ok, Dad died. Seven years ago today.

I did eventually finish the blanket for Mom. I even eventually made myself a Halloween throw as well as dozens of other projects and quilts over the years. I wonder if Dad knew what he was starting by leaving me that machine. I think he would approve. And even though I have a newer machine and I don't use the one Dad gave me anymore -- I have it. It's in a box, waiting. It's my back-up machine, and maybe, someday, it will be a good first machine for the granddaughter Dad never got a chance to meet. And maybe it will work the same magic it worked for me -- giving me a hobby that I love, a chance to meet others who share the same passion, and a way to be creative that feeds my soul. Dad would love that his gift has meant so much to me.

So, today, I'll take some time and sew. And I'll remember my father -- and the gifts he gave me.

Illegitimi Non Carborundum, Dad. I try -- it's not always easy.

I miss you.

I love you.

38 comments:

YankeeQuilter said...

That is a beautiful tribute to your Dad. I hope you enjoyed your day sewing and thinking of him. I don't think our Dad's would want us to be sad with their memories.

Karyn said...

That was absolutely beautiful. So beautiful in fact you have me bawling like a baby!! :)

I lost my dear Dad to cancer two and a half years ago and I understand your loss. Completely.

What an beautiful story about the sewing machine. If I were you it would be my most valued and treasured possesion ever.

Nadine said...

What a beautiful, loving post !
My mother died of pancreas cancer, 14 years ago, next December, I miss her, and I'm sending a biiig, friendly ((HUG)) to you !

QuiltingFitzy said...

Memories last forever, and I bet not many a time go by that you don't think of him while you sew.

You're a lucky gal, give yourself a hug from me!

Carole said...

Thanks for sharing! Love you wedding photo. Keep well!

Bren said...

I am so touched by your post. I have no words except how blessed you are to have had such a father in your life. I am so sorry for your loss and am teary eyed at your tribute.

Libby said...

A wonderful story and tribute to your dad *s*

Teresa said...

I am sorry for your loss, but your love shines through brightly. You are a vibrant, smart, funny, marvelous woman and I know somewhere your dad is still very proud of you.

dot said...

Great tribute to your dad. I bet he is smiling down on you right now. Take care and embrace those memories.

Lisa D. said...

What a beautiful story and tribute to your dad. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Nan said...

I can't tell you how your words have touched my heart. I didn't have a good relationship with my father, so to read of one as lovely as yours makes my heart smile. Your dad may be physically gone, but you have made him live forever in your words.
Thank you, Angela, for the beautiful post.

Linda said...

I'm with Karyn, bawling, what a heart wrenching post Angela, but so beautifully written. How extremely blessed you were to have your father, and blessed to have a mum who showed you what grace is. I hope you enjoyed the day sewing.

Lazy Gal Tonya said...

Your dad sounds like quite the character. I'm glad he encouraged you with the sewing machine.

Sue in western WA said...

No better way to honor your Dad than to spend some time sewing! Lucky you to have had such a good relationship with him.

andsewitis Holly said...

A part of your dad lives on in you with the sewing and the sewing machine. He would be so proud.

Helen said...

Oh Atet, your post has me crying! What a lovely tribute to your Dad. I think he would be proud of you and your sewing.

Kathie said...

A lovely story.

I lost my dad in 1981. I often think of "what might have been".

Morah said...

Oh what a writer you are. You have me reading and crying at your lovely story about your dad. Big Hugs from South Texas.

Dawn said...

Oh you have me bawling! Thank you for sharing the story. And what a nasty disease. My sil died at 42 from pancreatic cancer and suffereed a long 10 months deathly ill from it and they could not figure out from what. They found out what it was after she died from the autopsy. Hope you have a wonderful day of memories.

Samantha said...

Your story makes that sewing machine the best gift your daughter will ever get. Thanks for sharing your memories...

Fiona said...

Such a moving tribute to your Dad, he would be so proud of you.

anne bebbington said...

Pancreatic cancer is probably the sneakiest form - it's virtually always too late to do anything once it's found - this is a lovely piece about your dad - no doubt you think of him every time you put your foot on the sewing machine pedal

Tracey @ozcountryquiltingmum said...

I love that, I'm thinking of you...hugs from tracey

Mrs. Goodneedle said...

Thanks for sharing your story, it's a tender and poignant tribute to mutual, unconditional love. ~hugs~

Lucy said...

Whhat a beautifull post about yoru dad. what a beautiful pictures. It
gave me wet eyes !

Kairle said...

What sweet memories, Angela. Tonight DH and I went to visit Ed, whom I blogged about just recently. It seems like his clock is running down and his time will be up shortly. Fortunately, we'll always have those special memories of the ones we love so dearly.

Laurie Ann said...

Oh, Atet, that's so sad. He was such a handsome man and I can tell he was a nice man, too. He would be happy that you've made sewing your passion.

Yvonne said...

Wow...what a beautiful tribute to your Dad...you brought tears to my eyes too. I'm sure he's smiling down on you.

katelnorth said...

Lovely. As you can imagine, it has particular resonance for me this year. Thanks for sharing it. xx

Doe said...

This is a such lovely post. Made me a bit teary eyed. Thanks for sharing.

Finn said...

Hi Angela, a lovely and fitting tribute to a wonderful man..*VBS* So happy you have this great memory and the machine to hold on to.
Leaving extra hugs for all the anniversaries, *VBS* Hugs, Finn

Sassenach said...

Wow, thanks for sharing your memories. This was really touching.

Eileen said...

What a beautiful tribute to your Dad. Have a great day sewing as you remember him.

Greenmare said...

what a wonderful dad, and what how beautiful you wrote it.
Very touching~ thank you for sharing that~

Felicia said...

Your dad sounds like a wonderful person. I'm so glad you have such a wonderful treasure to remember him by.

Anonymous said...

Your tribute to your Dad brought tears to my eyes. My Dad died of Melanoma Cancer a year ago June. Dad's have a way of leaving special gifts. Mine was his appreciate of a quilt I made to comfort him. He recognized me as an "artist". That was a great complement. One I will always remember.

Liz in SC

Terry said...

My beloved Dad also died of pancreatic cancer nine years ago. It is the cruelest disease, to take a seemingly healthy and vibrant person down in a matter of a few months. I love your tribute to your Dad. It reminds all of us who had wonderful Dads how lucky we have been.

The Wooden Spool said...

what a loving tribute to your father! how precious.......thanks for sharing!