Hello, everyone. Remember me?
I'm sorry for the long radio silence. It has been a busy and sad interval of time.
My dad passed away on July 2, 2013, from complications relating to intestinal surgery.
I flew out to New Jersey just in time to be there with my mom and my sister Jenny, and to help Mom make the difficult decision to take him off life support. I feel really blessed that I had the chance to spend a quiet week with my mom, who was so brave and loving through it all, and with Jenny (who I hardly ever get to see, as she lives in Germany). We grew up together in that house, and it felt so strange to be there without my Dad there, and to start the process of sorting and dismantling it all. All four kids (me, Jenny, my brother, Geoff, who lives in Bloomington, MN, and my sister Susan from SF) have been taking turns in New Jersey since Dad fell ill in March; Geoff is now out there dealing with the gargantuan task of clearing out their house and readying it for sale, and Susan will take over with the final pre-sale preparations.
My dad was a radio controlled airplane fanatic. his plane room was filled from the floor to the rafters with airplane bits and pieces, books, and paper. I spent most of the week after his death sifting through it all, and I think learned a truly valuable lesson. It may be (ahem) that I myself have also accumulated more books and yarn than I can conceivably hope to read or knit in a single lifetime. It is just so overwhelming to go through someone else's stuff, and to figure out what they would have wanted to be done with it all! Not to mention the papers! My dad had every tax return since 1967, and he still had monthly sales reports from his years as a marketer in the textiles industry, and correspondence, and calendars... I don't want to ever have my son have to face the bewildering task of sorting out all of my stuff, after I'm gone. Time to start now.
In the meantime, I'm back in MN, clearing out my house to make room for Mom, who is going to come and live with me and Nathan. She hates flying, so the plan is for me to fly out there and drive her back in their minivan the first week in September. I'd rather do it sooner, as Nathan starts his junior year of high school on the 3rd, but Mom has drawn a line in the sand, and I understand. It is very hard for her to leave that house, which she has loved and cared for almost like a living person all these years.
After the experience of digging through my Dad's mountainous pile of possessions, I came home and decided to attack my home with a vengeance; maybe it is time to stop buying books, when I already have more than I can possibly read, and a Kindle to boot. Maybe it is also time to stop buying DVDs, now that there are things like Roku boxes, Netflix,and Amazon Prime. And (dare I say it?) time to stop buying yarn??? OK, now that's crazy talk... but not really. Not when you consider the sheer mass of yarn I have binned up in the garage.
Besides, when I watched that Hoarders show with my mom in May, I realized that I am more than a little hoard-ish myself. Okay, perhaps I'm not quite as bad as the people on that show; no vermin infestations, no piles of garbage with dead cats underneath them. But still, I live amid enough clutter that I'm embarrassed to have people come over. In fact, in all the years I've been having knitting night, I've never hosted it at my home, because I'm too embarrassed for people to see my tottering stacks of books and yarn (and Legos) stuffed everywhere. And when people come over for the holidays I have a heck of a time clearing off counters and the kitchen island and getting everything just right, when in an ideal world the counters and island would always be clear (wouldn't they?)
Progress to date: so far, I've taken over 35 shopping bags of books to Half Price Books; over 7 bags of clothes and housewares, and 4 huge boxes of games and jigsaw puzzles to Goodwill. I'm going through papers and making a pile of stuff to scan and then toss; and I'm re-organizing closets and drawers as I go and tossing junk, to the point that the recycling bin and garbage can are overflowing.
Nathan is helping; he is moving all of his Legos either downstairs to his room, or to his Dad's house. We're converting the office to Mom's new bedroom, and Nathan's old bedroom to her sitting room, so I'm hoping to clear out the furniture in those rooms and get them painted.
And, I have to say, it feels pretty good!
By the time I am done re-organizing, there will be room for Mom to have her own furniture in her rooms and in the living room, so it will seem more like home. We'll combine our kitchen stuff and linens and keep only the best, and I'll get a fresh coat of paint on the walls. Maybe with clean, uncluttered surfaces, our home will feel more serene, more like a place where we'd both like to spend our next chapter.
When Mom gets here in the fall, we'll have a memorial service for my dad; I'll have the photos then, and will tell you the story of his life.
In the meantime...
When I'm not digging out at work, or madly re-organizing at home, I have been knitting a bit; I've been concentrating on making presents for the many amazing caregivers who made such a difference in my dad's life over the past few months.
Angela and Stephanie, the wound care nurses at Overlook Hospital, truly bonded with my dad, who could be a prickly, difficult character. They showed him such kindness, and were available to us whenever we were worried, especially as his wound was so very difficult for the less thoroughly trained staff at the rehab hospital to manage. What can you say about nurses who give you their cell phones and answer your emails and calls, even on the weekends? Stephanie even answered my call once at 11:00 PM at night, while breast-feeding her baby girl!
Anyway. Partly to say thank you, and partly to stay sane, I've been knitting gifts for all of these wonderful caregivers. I made Angela a Multnomah shawl out of Three Irish Girls cotton and bamboo:
Modelled by my lovely sis, Jenny!
At Runnells rehabilitation hospital, we met a wonderful nurse, Shirley. She was able to make my dad laugh, and told stories about her husband who had passed less than a year ago, and her children. She said she loved gardening, so I tried to find a yarn that looked like a garden when knitted, and made her a cowl (pattern is Cupido, too much fun to knit!):
Although I didn't get the chance to meet her, a young nurse named Sophia spent the last four days of Dad's life giving him constant care and attention. For her, I made a sort of mitered cowl thingy in lovely pinks (also modelled by my lovely sis, Jenny!):
And for the two nurses on the 7th floor who helped Dad recover from a rare drug reaction, Sonja and Bibi, I am making two Inspira cowls. So far I've only finished the first one:
And for the two ICU nurses who helped us that last morning, Dierdre and Nicole, two Easy Lace Loop & Cowls (with a very addictive stitch pattern called "Acutiflora Lace") -- one down, one to go:
And for Diane, the emergency room nurse, a fibonacci-moebius cowl (my first attempt at moebius knitting - don't know how I would ever remember that goofy cast-on without watching the YouTube video of Cat Bordhi actually doing it herself):
There. Now I have to finish the two matching cowls, plus 2 bear hats for one nurse's twin toddler boys, plus a scarf for this amazing nurse named Eric... yet another thing for which knitting comes in handy. It gives me a way to say thank you, and some quiet time to gather my thoughts and figure out how to process Dad's passing, and all the changes this year will bring.
Sigh -- I feel like I have SO much to catch you up on. But at least you know what has been going on and why my blog has been kinda quiet of late.
Next week I need to catch you up on what Nathan is up to; he turns 17 on July 29 (!), which just doesn't seem possible.
Time to go eat some dinner, take Madeline on a walk, and have a popsicle!