Keeping Time

Yesterday was my 46th birthday.  Another year.  Another milestone.  Another day that we attribute significance to as a way to try to keep time.  A strange saying, that.  “Keep time.”  As if it’s a commodity, like money or food, which can be squirreled away for a time of greater need.  News flash:  It’s not.  Despite popular idioms, time cannot be “saved” or “spent.”  It cannot be “kept” or “given.”  And it most certainly cannot be “captured,” like some sort of wild prey.  It just…is.  Like nature, and the passing of seasons.  Like that ephemeral moment when the shadows of late day somehow, possibly when you blinked, gave way to the gloaming.  It is to be savored, appreciated, and allowed to pass…making room for the next moment.

watchWhen my mother died, I inherited a bit of her jewelry.  Most of it was bits and bobs, but among them were quite a few watches.  Most were merely fashionable baubles with no more value than the sentimental.  The batteries had long since died, but I took to wearing them anyway.  A reminder of my late mother, to be sure.  But also to mark that moment, forever frozen, when the watch’s rhythmic ticking gave way to stillness.  A testament, perhaps, to the fact that time waits for no one.

This year, the heat of summer is scorching.  Heat indexes of 120 degrees dot the Oklahoma weather map.  While Oklahoma heat is well known, it came soon this year, and it burns away the last of July.  The days of loitering in spring’s cool days seemed fewer this year, too soon taken over by the oppressive blaze of the summer sun.  But a couple of turns of the calendar and it will be autumn.  Heat will give way to chill as green succumbs to shades of russet…just before winter the cold of winter settles in the bones.

For now, though, I hurry to water things, only to hurry to harvest them.  And then, if history is any indicator, I will overwinter with a pile of seed catalogs and grandiose dreams of the next planting, the next season, the next year, the next…

A glance at my wrist, however, stills that.  The unmoving hands, a reminder to still myself.  To breathe.  To look around.  To truly see what surrounds me in this moment.  To appreciate it before it, too, moves forward, hurling toward the next great, unpromised unknown.

 

 

Just Breathe

Travis has another doctor appointment today to check on his pneumonia. I’m hoping that it is resolving. When we went for our walk this morning, I heard him struggling with the weight of the humid Oklahoma air. Still, I’m hopeful.

Thursday will be one month since his surgery. A month of doctors, hospitals, pain, prescriptions…and healing.

I know he’s getting frustrated. I know he’s still so uncomfortable. I know he wants to be “further along.” I know he is worried about bills. I know he feels like a burden.

How do you explain to someone that they are worth so much more than you could ever give? How do you show them that you meant every word of your vow? For better or worse…in sickness and in health…

At some point, this point in our story will make sense. At some point, this will be a “remember when…” But for now, it is our new normal. For now, it is the thing that keeps us up at night. Travis struggles to sleep (a common thing for bypass patients, I am told). And I…I sneak into the living room and watch him in his fitful sleep, sitting upright in his chair, and I relish in the simple joy of watching him breathe.

If you wish to help, you can find more information on the GoFundMe page.

Here We Are Again

Three years ago, my husband had a heart attack. This past Thursday, he had another.

Three years ago, they assessed the damage and used stents to try to patch him up. And it worked…for a time. On Tuesday, we will try to give him more time with open heart surgery and bypasses.

Three years ago, my mom called to check on me. She worried and fussed and Mom-ed me. She watched kids, made sure I ate, and listened to me cry. Now, I still mourn her passing and ache with the knowledge of all she would have done…were she still alive and here to do it.

For those who still follow my journey, thank you. For those who might be able to help, I am humbled.

I will post as we march on towards Tuesday, and the unknown, as well as after the surgery. Until then…say a prayer, light a candle, send positive energy…and know how much we appreciate it.

Auld Lang Syne

My mother was a faithful woman.  And in the early hours of Christmas Eve morn, she went to be with her Lord and Savior.

Yesterday was the Celebration of Life for her, and tomorrow starts a new year.  My first year without her.

My very talented sister in law put together a beautiful photo retrospective.  She included one of my favorite photos of my mom.  Still glowing with youth and full of life, it perfectly captures her joy and fiestiness and her grace…

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Charlene Zeller (1935-2016)

 

In honor of her, I will recount the words I said at her service–mostly so those who never got a chance to know her might at least know of her.

Those gathered here today undoubtedly knew of my mother’s grace and generosity. One of the ways her love manifested itself was through giving. It was undoubtedly her Love Language, and she was fluent in it. She loved to go shopping—she considered it a quest of sorts—a quest to find the Perfect Pairing of Gift and Value. (She came from Scottish ancestry, and their renowned thriftiness was a trait she bore with pride.)

In her quest to find Just the Right Gift, my mother hunted all year. The only problem was that, once she found that Perfect Gift, she simply couldn’t bear to wait to see the expression of joy and surprise. Many times she would call me at work and tell me that I needed to stop by on my way home so she could present me with one of her finds.

Even once she started chemo, she often sweet talked my father to run her by some store or other on the way to treatment, or afterwards, so that she could pick up something special for someone. I still have the text on my phone from this past Spring when she had located something special…you see, Mom had passed on to me her love of plants, and she had found a certain plant which she knew I wanted for my garden. She was eager to surprise me with it and couldn’t wait to tell me about it. Her text said: Hint: Witch Hazel, come by and get it tonight, OK?

When I picked up the plant that evening, I was shocked to find that it barely fit in my SUV. As always, when Mom did things, she did them big.

A lot of the flowers and herbs that grace my garden were gifts from my Mom. They are a living reminder of her and, soon, when Winter gives way to Spring, I can walk among the plants and feel her near.

Once of the reasons she loved plants so much was, along with their beauty, they had purpose…they had meaning.

One of the last plants she gave me was that Witch Hazel….in ancient times, it was believed that Witch Hazel could ward off evil…and soothe a broken heart.

It seems that, even as the end drew near, Mama was searching for one last perfect gift.

Thank you, Mama.

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Go mbeannai Dia dhuit.

 

 

More Outlander Inspiration and Gift Ideas

Have been hard at work sewing more Outlander inspired gloves.  It gives me something to do while I am Scrooging my way through the holiday season.

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Dragonfly in Fleece Glove

 

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My new favorite button…

I wandered over to the local fabric store last week and came across some Blackwatch fleece, then the heavens shined on me and I found some gorgeous enamel dragonfly buttons then, BEHOLD, these fingerless reading gloes were born.

I mean seriously…did you SEE that button?!

I even found some dragonfly buttons that are cast in an amber colored enamel.  If there is enough demand, I will go ahead and splurge on them and make some up.

I was also thinking about a line of gloves with a pair inspired by each of the Outlander books.  Yes, I AM that big of a geek, thanks for asking.

Finally found the fabric I want for my Harry Potter inspired gloves.  Time to break out the embroidery machine.

In the meantime, here are some of my other OUTLANDER inspired gloves, in case you need an inexpensive holiday gift, or work in a cold office, or because, you know, they’re kinda cute.

If you want to see more, there are a LOT of different colors, styles, and fabrics on my Etsy store:  The Print and Plaid Co.  

 

 

 

 

Changes, Balance, and #Outlander

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“The Gathering Glove”

A good book can entertain you.  A great book can change you.  It can interest you in previously unthought of things.  It can inspire you to try something new.  It can awaken a part of your soul long slumbering.

Outlander has done all of these things for me.  I picked up a pen, started gardening, renewed my interest in herbs, invested in chickens and a small coop, and now…well, now I am trying something new…

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My sewing space.

I find that sewing is comforting.  And I like the creativity it offers.  I like enough that I opened an Etsy store so I could share some of the things I am making.

I have serveral “Outlander” inspired items and, because I am a big geek, I am also working on some Harry Potter inspired items.

Also, in case I haven’t complained about it here, my office often feels something like the Arctic Tundra, so I have even come up with some officey looking fingerless gloves crafted from fleece so that I can stay warm enough to still type.

If you are interested, you can find these items (and more!) at my Etsy store (ThePrintAndPlaidCo).  I try to have new items listed every day or so.  So please check back often.

I am currently trying to figure out how to balance sewing, and writing, and working full time, and spending time with my mom as she fights cancer, and also taking kiddos to football and color guard.  But I am here, and I am hanging on, and (some days) that is enough.

Books, Grief, and #Outlander

Sometimes you just know things. A thought, unbidden, rises with certainty. Not something hoped for. Not something expected. But something Known.

When I heard my mom had a mass in her lung, I knew it was cancer. And before the radiation and chemo and pet scans, I knew–just as sure as autumn’s days grow shorter–that when the season’s chill gave way to cold, she would also give way to something, to whatever comes After.

This brave, wise, and faithful woman taught me to live. Now, as these numbered days march on, she teaches me the Final Lesson. How to die.  The one thing that she cannot teach me is how to go on without her.  This lesson I must figure out on my own, and a lonely, stumbling journey it is.

Raised with books as I was, I look there for solace: I try to find escape; I try to find guidance.  Something to hold onto when I can no longer hold her.

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A pile of books waits for me next to my bed.  The spines cracked with use.  Pages dog-earred.  C. S. Lewis shared his own journey in A Grief Observed, and I cling to it like a map out of the abyss.  I spare a thought for the repose of his own soul, and in the next ragged breath I say a word of thanks for Diana Gabaldon and her Outlander series.  Mere words on paper, to be sure, but words that have helped me untangle thoughts, find hope and faith, soothe both anger and fear… Now I turn to those beloved books in the blind panic of a grief much dreaded.

Considering the span of years (and the time period) which Gabaldon’s books cover, it is only natural that death and loss occurs.  Claire’s parents.  Jamie’s parents.  Murtaugh. Ian Murray. Frank. Mrs. Bug. Faith. Even merely presumed deaths cast a long shadow across the page.

We see death through the eyes of so many characters.  And, in them, we see ourselves  Every stage of grief is represented:  denial, anger, bargaining, depression, then finally…acceptance.

Last night I reread the pages of Ian Murray’s death.  I grabbed the book off the pile and took it with me to my son’s football practice.  The heat of the day had dissolved into a crisp breeze, and the Oklahoma sun was blazing pink and yellow behind the black of the shadowed tree line.  Under dusk’s shadows, I flipped through the pages until I found it.

The death was neither easy nor poetic, but his soul’s final passage was a gentle slipping away.

He didn’t speak again but seemed to settle, his body diminishing as life and breath fled from it.  When his last breath came, they waited in dull misery, expecting another, and only after a full minute of silence did they begin to look at one another covertly, stealing glances at the ravaged bed, the stillness in Ian’s face–and realized slowly that it was over at last.

Despite the fact that we know it is coming, we never quite expect it; we wait for a breath that never comes, and glance at one another for confirmation.  Is this it?  Is this all?  We always want there to be more.

They move on.  Then we move on.  We proceed with preparations.  Busy ourselves with What Must Be Done.  But realization finds us in the quiet moments.  It always does.

When Jamie and Jenny find a quiet moment together, Jenny asks her brother the thought that has lingered in her mind despite her distractions:

“Where d’ye think he is now?” Jenny asked suddenly.  “Ian, I mean.”

He glanced at the house, then at the new grave waiting, but of course that wasn’t Ian anymore.  He was panicked for a moment, his earlier emptiness returning–but then it came to him, and, without surprise, he knew what it was Ian had said to him.

“On your right side, man.”  On his right.  Guarding his weak side.

“He’s just here,” he said to Jenny, nodding to the spot between them.  Where he belongs.”

This is what I am holding on to…that long after I stop waiting for the breath that never comes, I will always find her, just there, guarding my weak side.