WIPocalypse Check-In: August 2016

WIPocalypse ButtonI confess – I had the 24th stuck in my head for some reason, not the 22nd.  (blush)  So I thumped my head on the desk a couple times when I opened up my blogging desktop tonight to get the check-in up, and saw that I’d planned it for Monday.

(sigh)

Time is all sorts of whacked, though.  One day I’m okay, the next I’m a mess.  This is what grief is supposed to be, I suppose.

If you’re not a regular reader of my blog and only pop by for the WIPocalypse check-ins, you might recall from last month that I mentioned I’d gone to California to see Dad for the last time.

He passed away two weeks ago today.  I miss him terribly.  I’m also incredibly relieved he’s finally at peace, because glioblastoma is a horrible disease.  Due to distance, finances, and parental duties, I couldn’t make it out there for the official memorial this past weekend.  I’m a bit annoyed at myself, but I also know there will be another memorial at another date where I will be able to gather with loved ones to celebrate his life and mourn his passing.  And I know that I got out there when it truly mattered – to see HIM.

People told me that it would make sense to me after he died.  That I’d be glad that I got out there.  And I am.  It’s painful, but yes… I am.

And as cheesy as it might sound – I’m thankful I have my stitching to help sooth the soul during times like this.  I’ve often compared stitching to guided meditation.  Lately that’s never been more true.  With all of the chaos around me during the day, I can take some time to let the multitasking fade away, and just focus… one stitch at a time.  Just. One. Stitch. It helps me recenter myself.  I can let emotions and thoughts come up as I move my needle, acknowledge them, and release them.  Or contemplate them, if needed.  The steady, quiet movement of needle and thread gives me time to think.  And think, I have done… a lot over the last few weeks.

 

Question of the Month News

We didn’t have a Question of the Month on deck for September, so I added one inspired by my own check-in this month.  I’ve found through my (many) years of stitching that a piece comes along once in a while that seems to be a journey.  Either it’s a joy to stitch on and you have a ton of fun memories… you took it on vacation or it was done for something special.  Or it’s a piece that gets you through hard times.  (or even good times).  But you can look at parts of the piece and know EXACTLY where you were when you stitched it.

If you feel comfortable sharing those stories, please do for next month.  Tell us a story with a piece you stitched.  🙂

We still have an open month for October’s question… and as shocking as it is, 2017 is just around the corner…so we need more questions!  Do you have a question you’d like to ask other stitchers to answer?  Is there a previous question you’d like asked again?  Help me fill the gaps!  If you have one you’d like to add, please let me know!

 

I hope that your Olympic stitching month was a fun one, and that you got a lot done… whether or not you were cheering on the Games.  Happy stitching everyone.

~ Mel.

 

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Question of the Month

Have you ever read any fictional books that involve embroidery?  If so, give us some recommendations?

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Important SAL Announcements…

Next posting date: September 16th

Topic for next time: Tell us a story about the journey you took through one of your completed pieces.

Please remember that this stitch-a-long is intended to be fun – so if you’re too busy to post, too busy/ill/etc. to stitch – no worries. Post when you can and share what you have going, even if you’ve only been able to toss a single stitch into it. If you miss a few months, not a problem – just jump back in when you’re back with us! It’s not a race or a competition – we’re all just here to cheer each other on with our progress.

Due to different browsing software, some bloggers have found it difficult to check-in with their posts. There are three different ways to check in:

  • Via Auto-link
  • Via comments (make sure you include your blog address!)
  • Via email – to measiwitch(at)gmail.com, only if the other two options are not working. Again- make sure you include your blog address! I’ll add it to the auto-link myself when I have a free moment.


*Gasp* A WIPocalypse Post from me…

Since I’m already a couple days late on posting the WIPocalypse, I might as well get my own post up.

I made some progress this month on my chosen piece for the Olympics.  I’ve been working on what I call my “brooding piece.”  I think that everyone has something like this, either stitching related or some other activity… something to do as you’re working through thoughts and emotions.

When my dad first called me in early July to give me the news that he was at “weeks remaining” stage with his cancer, I picked up Blue Jeans and Daisies again.  Because it has unintentionally become my brooding piece… the comfort piece I turn to while I work mentally. I can tell you exactly what I was doing at the time I was stitching different portions of this piece.  It’s been my emotional working piece now since New Year’s Day in 2013.  So this one deserves a little bit of a journey.

Blue Jeans & Daisies as of 3-6-13The first post is where the piece was as of March 6, 2013. Six days after this, my son would be born. We’d had a horrible snowstorm which knocked out our power for two days and sub-freezing weather, causing our house to dip down into the 40s. I’d gone through a pointless birthing class (pointless because I wound up having a c-section, and also due to being an OB/GYN’s daughter… I had a pretty good idea of the hell I was about to go through).

My stitching was done as I normally did – at night in bed, on my train commutes to and from work, and in the waiting rooms or during non-stress tests at the hospital to pass the time (which had increasingly been done at the hospital).

The tree was particularly special to me, as I was thinking about the family tree that was about to grow.

Blue Jeans & Daisies as of 7/20/13By late July of 2013, I’d finished “Part One” on the left hand side, and was now moving to the right into Part Two. I stitched the beehive while I was back in the hospital seven weeks after having Max.  I had five days with no food, no water, and a whole ton of bed rest due to pancreatitis.  So I stitched the hive.  It was cute and fun and easy and killed a lot of time during which I really couldn’t do anything else.  Trying to stitch with an IV needle in my dominant hand was a bit of a pain in the butt, though.

The rest of the squares above were stitched during the many hours of sitting with Max in my lap during my maternity leave.  Max wouldn’t sleep unless he was in my lap, so I mastered the art of balancing a baby on a Boppy pillow and my stitching on the other side of the chair.  I went insane sitting there, but this definitely passed the time and allowed me to brood over the newest thing in my life- a child, and the overwhelming depression that had slammed into my head. I stitched the flowers to try to help cheer me up.  I distinctly remember crying over that sunflower.

Blue Jeans & Daisies as of 9-17-14Blue Jeans and Daisies disappeared from my rotation for a while.  I continued to struggle with depression and my fight or flight instinct with motherhood.  I stitched on other things.  And then when my grandmother died, I came back to this. I finished the swans and the lower borders.  The squares were done while I was thinking about my cat, Colley, who would be helped over the Rainbow Bridge about a week after this photo.

And then again, it quietly went to the side.  I was struggling to stitch at all with a toddler around.

Blue Jeans pre OlympicsAnd then that call from Dad came.  And I picked it back up in July of this year.

On the flight out to say goodbye to my dad in California, I stitched the square with the sheep and the border of the pink square (where eventually, there will be a peacock).

I stitched the bees in San Francisco’s airport while waiting for my red-eye flight back home.  And then noticed a week later that the right one is one thread higher than the other one by mistake.  And I’m leaving it that way, because it feels wrong to me to pick out the stitches done to sooth grieving when they won’t affect the rest of the pattern.  So that little bee is a little higher for all eternity.

I stitched the blue square with the two white dots while at a stitching meet-up hosted in late July by my friend Abi.  I only noticed after I stitched the square that both white dots are miscounted in a way that will affect the rest of the square.

I honestly don’t remember stitching the purple flowers at all.  They somehow found their way onto the piece in a blur.

And I took this photo on August 5th, just before starting my Olympic stitching.

 

My dad passed away five days later.  I had picked out the white dots that I’d miscounted the night before he passed.  Again… I don’t dare pick out that bee.  Now I’m convinced something ominous will happen if I do.

Post OlympicsAfter Dad died, I needed to do another flower. So I did the one in the top corner. I needed to do the strawberries, remembering the patch we used to have at home many years ago.  I did those while watching swimming and gymnastics.  I think I did the entire strawberry vine during Katie Ledecky’s epic 800M swim, actually.

The basket of roses just formed itself during the closing ceremonies from the leftover strands I’d used in the strawberry square (since it shares all of its colors with the strawberries).

I didn’t get the peacock done as I’d planned – because I discovered during the olympics that my light blue had gone wandering.  I probably lost it on one of the plane rides to or from California.  And I lost the red and yellow, too – but thankfully I had extra of those two colors lying around from a previous Blue Ribbons Designs piece I’d done a couple years ago.

So the peacock and the blue flowers in the bee panel are next.  And that leaves the little butterfly in the lower corner and the bigger tree motif in the red square.  The flowers will likely be this weekend as I mourn my Fizzy, who we’ll be helping to cross the Rainbow Bridge by week’s end (two cancer deaths in as many weeks has me reeling).

It’s a piece with happy colors, of joyful things.  And I’ve stitched a lot of it while sad.  But I think there’s a reason for it… the brooding is to get it out of my system.  The bright happy colors keep reminding me that I will get through it.  There is joy out there, and I will find it again, even if it’s just in little batches of bright pink or red glowing off of blue fabric.  I’m mapping a life journey as I stitch, and as sad as some of the events are, I look at this piece with pride because it shows survival and hope.  Every little stitch is a small step toward healing, toward peace.

Blessings,

Mel.

Thomas F. Kent – Obituary

This is the final version of the obituary I wrote for my father today.  Undoubtedly, it will be edited before being posted the various newspapers, but I want a permanent copy of what I wrote, saved with a timestamp so there’s no question as to what was written.

Dr. Thomas (“Tom”) Foret Kent, 72, passed away peacefully at his home in San Jose, CA on August 10, 2016 after a year-long battle with cancer. 

He leaves his wife,  Anne (Cox) Kent, of San Jose; children by his first marriage Melissa (Kent) Krueger and husband Erich of Providence, RI, and Scott Kent of Boulder, CO; step-children Jonathan Cowen and wife Ruth of Louisville, KY; and  Emily (Cowen) Plant and husband Andrew of Missoula, MT; grandson Maximillian Krueger of Providence, RI; brothers Raymer A. Kent and wife Ann of Cornwall, PA, Matthew Kent and wife Anne Zapf of Klondyke, AZ, and Christopher Kent and spouse James Burns of Middleburg, VA; his former wife Jennifer (Luczyszyn) Kent of Easton, PA; and many nieces and nephews and extended family.  He was preceded in death by his parents Raymer and Lillian.

Dr. Kent was born September 9, 1943 in Reading, PA to the late Raymer W. and Lillian F. Kent as the eldest of four sons.  He grew up on a farmette in the nearby town of Birdsboro, PA and sang as an alto and a tenor in his church choir. In 1965 he graduated from Albright College in Reading, PA with a Bachelors in Biology, and continued his education, graduating with a Doctorate of Medicine in 1969 from Temple University in Philadelphia.  Upon completion of medical school, he married his first wife and moved to California for his medical residency at Kaiser Foundation Medical Center in Oakland, CA.  Dr. Kent served for two years between 1971-1973 in the U.S. Navy as a General Medical Officer at the Naval Hospital in Long Beach, CA. 

In 1975 he moved to Billings, Montana, where he would raise his two children and develop a long, fruitful private medical practice career with Billings OB/GYN Associates.  In 1999, he married wife, Anne, with whom he enjoyed many adventures for the rest of his days. Over his forty years as a doctor, he delivered nearly 5,000 babies and cared for thousands of women in Billings and the surrounding area.   After retiring in 2014, Tom and Anne moved to San Jose, CA.  In his spare time, Tom loved cheering on and mourning the fate of his beloved hometown Philadelphia sports teams and tinkering in his workshop. 

A memorial service will be held at 3 pm on Saturday, August 20, 2016 at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in San Jose, CA.

Memorial contributions may be made in his name to the St. Vincent Healthcare Elizabeth Seton Clinic at http://www.svh-mt.org/about-us/make-a-gift/ or to a cancer research charity of one’s choice.

 

UPDATE 8/28/16 – The obituary I was finally able to publish this past week in the Billings Gazette was before I learned of the plans for a memorial service for my dad.  The date, time and location are still being finalized (rough date plan is for his birthday on September 9th).  Once I have the confirmed time, I will update the blog here and email everyone who has provided a valid address in comments here.

 

Lifting my voice – Five Minute (and Change) Friday

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This week’s prompt is:  LIFT

(a belated FMF entry… but one that’s rather poignant due to the topic at hand)

My dad passed away on Wednesday. On my husband’s birthday.

Those are the two phrases that keep rebounding around my head, even though they don’t belong together at all and I keep mentally kicking myself when they blend together, because I can’t help not connecting them.

He was 72, just one month shy of his 73rd birthday. And although he and I had a complicated and distant relationship for the past fourteen years, he was my Daddy.  I admired him for so many reasons… but mostly just because he was my dad.  He was a good doctor, dedicated to a life of delivering babies and protecting the health of thousands of women of all ages, over his forty-year career as an OB/GYN.  He loved working in his woodshop, yelling at the TV when the Philadelphia Eagles or Phillies were playing (they could hear him from Montana, don’cha know?), and bopping and singing to music on the radio as he went about his house projects.  My dad had a beautiful singing voice – a clear, strong tenor, as good at singing choral music as it was singing modern pop music.  He had a quirky sense of humor – sometimes clean-cut, sometimes vulgar, but one that I always enjoyed (and likely inherited).

That’s how I remember my dad.  How I want to remember my dad.  The latter years, of course, were much more painful.  But I’ve shelved those for now, to be dealt with in the process of grieving as needed.  For now, it’s the good times I want to remember.

My emotions are a bit confusing to me – we all knew this was coming, and recent news in early July revealed that his death was coming sooner than later. Glioblastoma is what it is… a horrible, uncurable form of cancer that comes in and destroys, despite the treatments available.  So as I imagine most of my family members did, I braced myself, quietly started to prepare for what was coming, and held my breath.

And on Wednesday morning at work, my step-sister called me to tell me he’d passed… peacefully, at home, with her by his side. (something that gives me no small amount of relief, honestly… knowing someone was there with him).

And while I feel very sad at his passing, about the things that could have been but now won’t ever be, I oddly feel a bit more peace. He isn’t suffering anymore. He’s not in pain. He’s relaxing in Heaven, reconnected with other lost loved ones, looking at his life and replaying the moments that he treasures. There’s no more godforsaken chemo or MRIs to be done. My emotions confuse me a little, honestly – should I be more upset? Is this odd calm just a mental padding to ease the pain so I can keep going with my life as I need to (because let’s face it… taking care of a three-year-old does not allow for a lot of open grieving)?

So my grieving has been done as I always seem to find myself… by writing. Quiet, private journal entries in my handwritten journal never to see the light of day to anyone else. A couple private blog entries that I may or may not unlock at some point for the world to see. This freeverse entry, just to release some of the pent up confusion.

And then my dad’s obituary, which is probably the best way for me – a born writer – to honor him. My words, printed in the newspapers, for time eternal to see.

My base draft is done, but oh the pressure… how to capture a life of 72 years in only a few short paragraphs? How to walk the family political minefield that is inclusive of survivors without anyone being slighted, all while mindful of the word limits provided by a newspaper. I keep waiting for some beam of illumination to solve all of the problems to lift itself out of the muck and show me the way to what might be one of the most important things I write during my lifetime.

How do you capture a life in only a few short paragraphs? And how do you convey the love of someone while coming to terms with that which now cannot happen?

I suppose that, ultimately, is what a more in-depth blog entry in the future is for… to capture those things that a traditional obituary can’t.

And perhaps that is the answer, coming out of the muck.

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Those who’d like to participate in Five Minute Friday will write for five minutes on the topic of the week, post it on their own blog and link up the post here.  This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.

Just write.

Five Minute Friday: Help

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This week’s prompt is:  HELP

I admit it – I suck at asking for help. For me, asking for help shows weakness and incompetence… and I never want to appear to be either.

Yes, I realize that we all need help sometimes. I get it – I do. And occasionally I do break down and ask for help. And then afterward, I’m either kicking myself for doing so (because I don’t actually get the help I need), or I’m kicking myself out of humiliation… because of my aforementioned feelings about feeling weak and incompetence.

This need to not be helpless, to not be incompetent, is something that I’ve dealt with my entire life. I always felt like a failure in my father’s eyes, and asking for help just justified those feelings. When I talked to him last week, he insisted that he always felt proud of me… and that truthfully was a surprise to me, since I never felt I’ve lived up to his expectations. But one thing I do know – asking for help was something that simply was not done. Not for me – because I was “the smart one,” the “one who could figure it out on her own,” and so therefore help was never given… I was just told to figure it out.

So that’s continued. At work, at home, and everywhere else. I struggle through things alone. Because there is no help – either it’s not given, or it just doesn’t… help. And I’m back to square one.

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Those who’d like to participate in Five Minute Friday will write for five minutes on the topic of the week, post it on their own blog and link up the post here.  This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.

Just write.