Thursday, June 1, 2017

It's so clear now... the meaning of giving

Note that I am posting this with only minimal proofreading.  I felt it was important to get it posted today.  I will, at some point, make some corrections....  or maybe not.  Maybe it needs to be left as-is... raw with emotion. 

Several months ago, my brother, Jay, passed away after suffering a cardiac arrest and brain death.  Once it was determined that he was no longer really with us, the organ donation process was started, per his wishes.  When all was in place, we would remove him from life support, let him go, and send our prayers with each of his donations, wanting the recipients to lead a full and rewarding life as a result of his gift.   It was an odd feeling...  we were heartbroken to lose our son, brother, father, grandfather, and uncle but satisfied that he could  still bestow these gifts upon those that needed them.

Of course, I understood the organ donation process....  someone donates their stuff and someone else gets the stuff.  Sounds simple, right?   What I didn't understand was what it takes to give gifts of this magnitude....  and what it is to receive them.

I won't lie.  The donation process was long, uncomfortable, and well, awful.   I felt I had ran through every ounce of emotional energy to get to the point of making the decision to let Jay go.  By the end of the donation process, I was not sure I could go through it again...  or if I wanted to donate my organs and put my loved ones through the process even though I was fully conscious of the fact that those that received the benefit of Jay's organs and tissues had been far more uncomfortable for far longer than I.  

The benefits of Jay's donations were realized almost immediately.  We were advised that his kidneys were successfully gifted to two gentlemen the very next day and that they were doing well.  Yes, I felt some gratification.  We were told the remaining tissue would be treated and stored until it was needed and could help many individuals, including burn victims.

But the process still sucked.   It seemed like we had been in limbo forever as we waited to make the decision to let Jay go and for the donation process.   It went through my mind that we could quit...  back out...  I wanted it over...  I knew we wouldn't...  I knew we couldn't... but it didn't stop the desperate thoughts.

It seemed that for months, my thoughts of my last moments with Jay were related to the donation process.  I was a little resentful this uncomfortable process replaced the memories I wanted to hold on to from those last hours with him.   As they say, time heals all and I learned to move those memories around and focus on the ones I wanted to remember.  The sharp edges of the donation process softened and my life moved forward.  I had no idea that this would all come back to me with such a velocity that my world would be forever changed.

My husband, a retired firefighter, has suffered with the traditional problems of long-time firemen:  bad knees, bad back, and bad shoulders.  Each year, his range of motion was decreasing and his pain was increasing. 

His right shoulder was repaired a number of years ago without incident and it was time to repair the left shoulder.  However, complications popped up. 

While three of the ligaments could be repaired, the ligament that runs along the top of the shoulder and is attached to the ball was so damaged, and had been damaged so long, that repair was impossible.  Years ago, the only option for this type of situation would be full shoulder replacement.   Shoulder replacement was complicated, possibly a short term solution, and required a long recovery period.

Fortunately, advancements in modern medicine included development of a consistently successful grafting of a two sections of tendons.  Cool!!!   Let's do it.

This morning, we prepared for surgery, arriving timely at the surgical center and feeling like we knew the routine since we had done this before.

This afternoon, my husband received a section of dermis, specifically a section of tendon, from a donor.  This donor section was grafted to the damaged end of his tendon and the surgeon was able to rebuild the attachment to the ball of the shoulder.

I hadn't even considered how a section of tendon would just magically appear at the end of the surgeon's scalpel to be grafted to my husband's tendon.  I am sure they mentioned it at some point..... didn't they?  Then I considered it.  And that's when it struck me....

An organ donor.

This evening, my husband is home, in his recliner,  looking forward to being able to use his shoulder again.

An organ donor.

Someone passed away and their family waited patiently, and probably uncomfortably, while the process was initiated and completed.... and their efforts helped my husband. 

Did that someone's family also pray that the recipient of the tissue would lead a full and rewarding life with their gift?

While I waited for the surgery to be completed, I further contemplated the lives involved in this exchange.   I could have looked at it as just a surgery.  No, I couldn't.  Perhaps prior to my brother's death I could, but things seemed different to me now.  When had they changed?  Maybe my brother's final gift to me was an awakening... an appreciation of the things I could so easily take for granted...  or not even notice.

Of course, the donor's information is private and protected but I knew they must have wanted to help others by giving what they could no longer use.  They gave to enrich the lives of others...   they gave to people they did not know.  They gave regardless of color, sexual orientation, or religion.   They gave everything they had.   They couldn't give more.    They had to be a good person...  how could they not?

I considered my husband.... a good man....  a fireman.   A man who chose a career that required him to risk himself to help others.   He helped others without knowing their name, their age, or if they likes artichokes.  He let kids wear his helmet, offered help on the side of the highway, and pulled a Great Dane and her puppies from a burning building.  He was a man who was viewed as a hero but wanted nothing more than to never, EVER hear another alarm.  He was a man who continued on, knowing his knees and back and shoulders were being destroyed.

Ok, so we have a tissue donor and a recipient.  But it seems more than that.  There is a circle here somehow...    someone helped someone who helped someone.

Perhaps I am feeling that this particular circle is more personal than it really is.  Perhaps it only matters that I am grateful for the two parts of the circle that is in my line of sight:  the fireman... and for the donor...  two people who gave so much... two people that most likely never met.... but two people who gave as much as they could.

Perhaps I would like to believe that, on some cosmic level, I can see this circle in its entirety.  A fireman helped the donor.  The donor helped a fireman.

It could have so many names:
Paying it forward...

Doesn't really matter, I guess.  The important thing is that I now understand about the giving of what can not be bought... and the receiving of what can not be sold.   I want to be part of this wonderful cycle... No.  I want to be part of many of them....  now and forever.

To the family of the donor...   thank you...  and I understand.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Why do I do this to myself?

I just can't leave well enough alone....

Hubby will need to have surgery on his shoulder at some point in the future.  In the meantime, he is to wear a sling to support his arm and, mostly, to remind him to NOT use the arm for most applications.  

These slings are ugly things...  but why not?  They are supposed to be medical appliances, not fashion statements.  Ours, left from a previous should surgery, is washable, making it somewhat acceptable

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Thrilled with the contrtibutions!

I offered some of the faux doggie vests just prior to Easter, offering to mail the vests at my cost with a donation of any amount to the post-secondary education account I set up for my niece and nephews after my brother, their sole provider, passed.

I received three adorable photos of poopies sporting their vests....

How cute are they?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The little dogs will be dressed well too !

....  the saga of the faux vests for the doggies continues.....

I had needed something to do with my hands due to the passing of my brother and the two broken ribs I suffered in a fall.   I do better staying busy but because of the ribs, I was limited in what I could do.

I stumbled upon the idea for neckerchiefs from spending time with a BFF in February.  It was something I could do that didn't take a lot of concentration and I could still be productive.  Fortunately, I had all necessary parts and pieces to make the faux vests.

As a result of my efforts, I was able to donate over 70 faux vests and neckerchiefs to the Rescues for their use at Adoption Events.   A vast majority of those vests fit large and extra large dogs.

And that was wonderful.  I was happy and satisfied....  the dogs would certainly by "stylin'"....

....but what about the little poopies???  tthe smaller dogs would be attending the Events "naked" if I didn't act quickly.... so I grabbed my scissors once again!

As I was cutting, I made a private commitment of donating the smaller sized faux vests in the name of CB and MI, who had also generously contributed to the post-secondary education fund I set up for my niece and nephews.  I felt this important as the kids had lost their sole parent when my brother passed.

I gathered my supplies and spend an afternoon cutting the vests, collars, and bowties from my pre-selected fabrics while binge watching on Netflix.  I just started cutting...  and I kept cutting.

Monday, April 17, 2017

New Years Day Mystery Quilt

Yes, I am extremely tardy in posting this but some things can't wait and some things can. 

I love doing Mystery Quilts, which is when you are give quantities and instructions periodically in steps but you have no idea how the quilt will actually look when its done. Mostly, you just pray for guidance and hope for the best.  Sometimes you win, and sometimes you just aren't sure.

When given the quantities for the New Years Day project, which was intended to be finished in one day, I looked through my fabrics and picked a fabric that I really just wanted to use up.  I looked around for bits and pieces that I thought would coordinate well but was well aware that some of the quantities were only marginally enough based on the information provided by the quilt designer.

The main fabric that I wanted to go was a bit of My Little Pony fabric that was leftover from what, I have NO idea...  it had been that long.   I had my pile of fabrics and considered them long and hard before beginning.  I decided that I chose it and I was going to go with my gut.

Near the end of assembling the blocks, I knew I was running dangerously low on some of the fabrics... especially the bold turquoise but I forged forward and made sure I cut carefully and made no mistakes.

Not knowing how a quilt will look in the end really hampers me in trying to predict the final outcome of the fabric choices.  Its all about balance but there is a learning curve in predicting balance.

The blocks were finished and the turquoise was used up and I was pretty happy with the quilt but the size was a bit small.  So I tried to make it larger....

That's where I think I made my mistake:   I added a border of My Little Pony on each end and then threw in a row of flying geese and another row of the Pony fabric. 

I think it really needed a bit of turquoise between the geese and the Pony fabric but there was no more and I really wanted to use up the Pony stuff.

I used the striped fabric for the binding and while its not really ugly, it could be a lot better if I had used some yellow to warm it up and more turquoise because the overall color palette is cool.

It still needs to be quilted and it will get done...  hopefully this summer...  when its hot and I spend all day in the studio (which is no different than any other day I can sneak away for a studio day).

They say there is no ugly quilt so I suppose the beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  I am sure that someday, I will meet some little girl who will think this is just the cat's meow!!

If you meet this little girl, send her my way !!!

Make someone's day !!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!

A somewhat funny (funny only after years have passed) but true story:  

I bought a house from an older lady during the summer and the next spring, I finally got around to cleaning out around the outside of the house.... You know the drill: 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

What is YOUR poopie wearing for Easter?

Daisy modeling something from our spring line.
Daisy is a beautiful big-boned girl
weighing about 100# and wears a LG.
EFFECTIVE 4/11/17, ITEMS WILL NO LONGER BE SENT IN TIME FOR EASTER but will continue to be available while supplies last. 

We are all out shopping for our traditional Easter bonnets..... well, maybe not.

Sadly, I think the days of Easter bonnets are pretty much over.  I don't look great in hats but LOVE seeing others wearing their Spring bonnets!!  Its a tradition that I enjoy.  Don't you just love seeing little girls in their bonnets? And the elderly women...  they wear them with such panache!

I do think most shop for something for Easter, or Easter dinner, or at least for spring.  

My question is: what is your dog (or poopie as I call them) wearing for Easter?  Nothing?  How fair is that?

My faux vests for the poopies have been so popular that I have decided to offer them to you!!  And they even have a faux pocket for their watch !!

I know a lot of people do not dress their furbabies but even an "undressed" dog can look cool.

Sorry I don't have anything for the girls yet...  maybe soon!!

For a contribution amount of your choosing to the Jay Barton Memorial Fund*, I will mail your poopie vest in plenty of time for your dog's Easter dress-up.  This offer will expire in 7 calendar days (to ensure receipt by Easter) but may expire without notice, however, all completed transactions will be honored

Here is how it works:

1.  Choose a vest from the photos in this posting, based on size and preference.   Vests are made of a durable wash and dry polyester non-ravel fabric with a Velcro closure and is NOT intended to be used to restrain. 

Please be aware that the vest should NOT be left unattended as the adorable "bone" button(s) may create a choking hazard to children or dogs. 

2.  Visit any Wells Fargo branch and deposit your contribution into the Jay Barton Memorial Fund*, account # 9703925777, nicknamed For the Kids.  Remember that you choose the amount of your contribution.  Save your transaction receipt.
Contributions may be made by check or cash at any branch or via remote banking if you are a WF customer. 

3.  Email your contribution transaction #, along with your name, address, and the vest you desire to me by clicking on this link or  The transaction number can be found near the middle of your receipt, just above the date.  

The number of each style available is noted behind its code.  Please list first and second choice.  If no second choice is noted and your chosen style has been depleted, you will receive another style of my choosing in the appropriate size.  Note there are TWO photos of size MEDIUM.

4.  I will verify your transaction number and mail your very special vest within 48 hours of your contribution.  I will also update the posting photos based on supplies.  Sorry we cannot ship outside the 48 contiguous states.

Vests will be mailed first-in, first-out.  Please know that styles may vary slightly from photo.

5.  Enjoy the adorable that is your doggie in Easter duds. 

I would love to see some photos of your puppies in their finery!!    Please FORWARD your photos with your poopie's name!

Questions may be posted in comments or emailed.

Size XS, fitting necks 7" - 9". 
Choices include (L to R) 
XSArgyle (5 4)                                                 XSGray (5 4)

Size SM, fitting necks 9" - 11 1/2". 
Choices include (C lockwise from top left):
SMjacquard (5 4)     SMnavy (5 3)       SMblack (5)     SMknit (5)

Size MD fitting necks 11 1/2" - 15".
  Choices include (clockwise):
MDbox (1)                 MDstripeR (2)                 MDstripeW (1)

Size MD fitting necks 11 1/2" - 15". 
Choices include (L to R):
MDpolka (2)                    MDbrown (1)

Size LG, fitting necks up to 20".
  Choices include (cloxkwise):
LGstripe (1)     LGjacquard  (1 0)      LGbox (1)      LGwave (2 1)

* Monies contributed to the Jay Barton Memorial Fund will be used solely for post-secondary education for Jay's minor children, Jayson, Jeff, Jack, and Bryanna.  Thank you for helping these kids.