Thursday, April 10, 2014

Saying Goodbye

Umbrella Prints Trimmings Hexagon Pillow by Fabric Mutt

Every year I look forward to the Umbrella Prints Trimmings Competition. It's not about the prizes really. It's about the challenge of taking these little leftover pieces of fabric and turning them into something new. Working with scraps is always a welcome reminder that the ragged pieces of my life can become something beautiful if I let them, but I had no idea how personal this year's project would turn out to be.

Umbrella Prints Trimmings Hexagon Pillow by Fabric Mutt

My husband woke me on Wednesday morning to say that my grandmother's assisted living home had called with the news that Grandma was unresponsive. Paramedics arrived, found that her heart had stopped, and resuscitated her. We ended up sitting beside her in a hospital room where she was unconscious and breathing heavily, not knowing whether she would last the next hour or another six months. Mom and I decided that we would spend the night with her, so I went home to pack a bag. I had decided to try a hexagon project this year with my Umbrella Prints trimmings, and it seemed like a good idea to tuck them into a sewing kit and bring them along to keep my hands busy.

Umbrella Prints Trimmings Hexagon Pillow by Fabric Mutt

I will always remember April 2, 2014 as one of the longest nights of my life. Mom and I sat together in that dimly lit hospital room, keeping a quiet vigil over my grandmother, and it felt as though we lived through a week instead of just hours. We talked and cried, prayed and listened and cried some more. I read your sweet Instagram comments to my mother, and we were both encouraged (thank you, dear friends). I basted my hexagons, laid them out in a pattern, and spent at least an hour rearranging them over and over again on a little table in the corner of the room. Mom held Grandma's hand, reassuring her now and then that it was okay to let go, that we loved her. Through it all, we saw the signs that death was coming closer. As her seizures gave way to peaceful breathing and her heartbeat began to slow down, we set everything aside to focus on my grandmother, to love and pray her through the doorway between life and death. She drew her last breath shortly after noon on April 3rd.

Umbrella Prints Trimmings Hexagon Pillow by Fabric Mutt

It took me several days to be able to pick up this project again. The feelings from that night were still so raw that I almost couldn't bear opening my sewing kit and staring them in the face. In the end, I decided that finishing this pillow might just be my own way of finding some healing and closure. I added two hexagons made from Japanese prints to the ones from my trimmings packet -- one including the word "life." It seemed appropriate. The hexagons were sewn together by hand and stitched down onto a background of chocolate brown linen by machine. I added one hexagon to the back of the pillow which reminds me slightly of a sun coming up over the horizon. The pillow now sits on the loveseat in my parents' room, a gift to my dear mother who has been amazing through all of this.


As many of you know, my grandmother moved into a nearby assisted living home this past December and quickly went downhill under the debilitating influence of dementia, but when I started sewing and blogging several years ago, she was one of my biggest cheerleaders. It was Grandma who often slipped some money into my hand when I came to visit her, insisting, "Buy yourself some new fabric, Heidi Jean!" (Have I mentioned that Grandma's first name was Jean?) She loved to send me pictures of quilts, asking if I could make the same thing for her, and she insisted on buying me a subscription to Mollie Makes so that I could keep up on the latest inspiration. I think she probably drove people crazy showing them printouts from my blog and pointing out my quilts which she had displayed all over her house. Her gifts and encouragement helped me keep this blog going, especially in those early days, and I wouldn't be where I am if it weren't for her.

Goodbye for a little while, Grandma. We love you.

36 comments:

  1. I'm so sad to read this Heidi. At least you were with your wonderful grandmother at the end, and she is at peace now. The cushion will always be a treasured keepsake for you and your family and it sounds like you have many happy memories to remember her by. xxx

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  2. So very sorry for your loss, but so encouraged by your sweet words, and the treasured memories you will always have. The cushion will always remind you of that. As you said, it's only "goodbye for now".

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  3. What a beautiful tribute to your grandmother. Very sorry for your loss.
    I love that little cushion and discovered the Life hexagon before I read about it...struck an instant cord with me for many reasons. Take are

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  4. This was lovingly and beautifully written. I'm sorry for your loss.

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  5. That was beautiful. It's a reminder of how much emotion and history an object can contain. My thoughts are with you and your family.

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  6. I'm so sorry for your loss, Heidi. That was a beautiful tribute to your wonderful grandma. xx

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  7. Hugs to you Heidi. I hope you find comfort in your memories of your wonderful grandmother.

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  8. Oh Heidi...my heart aches for you and your family. Your pillow is lovely and a great tribute to your grandmother.

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  9. So sad for you. The pillow you made that night will always remind you how mych love you had for her. Good for you that you could spend her last hours together. My Grandparents are old too, Grandpa will be 91 on the 20th, Grandma is 85. We have an ocean between us and I'm always afraid to pick the phone up when they call from home.

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  10. I am so sorry for your loss. It is obvious how much you loved your Grandma...and how much she loved you. Hold on tight to your memories until you meet again.

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  11. I'm so sorry for your loss, I never knew my grandparents as I was a very late baby of the youngest in both my parents' families. Its lovely that you have some wonderful memories of your grandmother, particularly when they relate to something which is so important in your own life. I lost my mother way too early and I really miss not having that relationship in my life. Glad you got to say goodbye.

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  12. Aww, so sad. I hope that I am so lucky to leave this world peacefully, surrounded by those who love me like you love your grandma. ((Hugs))

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  13. So sweet! My grandmaS both contributed alot to who I am, as a person, and creatively. I love that and thankful it's true for you too. Blessings.....

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  14. I'm so sorry for your loss. You are lucky to have had such a wonderful, supportive grandma in your life. Your post and your hexagon pillow are both beautiful tributes to her.

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  15. I am so sorry for your loss. Your grandma sounds like a wonderful woman we all would have loved to have known!
    I am sending you some virtual hugs.
    Esther
    esthersipatchandquilt at yahoo com
    ipatchandquilt dot wordpress dot com

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  16. tears in my eyes reading this Heidi. So glad that you were there to say goodbye - and so thankful that our goodbyes are not forever. Lots of love to you and your family.

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  17. Sorry for your loss, but pleased that you're already beginning to find your way towards healing.

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  18. I am so terribly sorry for your loss! We will definitely be praying for your family! You pillow is gorgeous! Don't worry though she is still cheering you on! You might not be able to hear her, but she is so keep up the good work here on your blog!

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  19. Oh boy! Did you have to make me cry? Wonderful commemoration of your Grandma. She sounds like such a wonderful spirit. I'm so sorry for your loss. It is so difficult. I know. I hope sewing helps you - to remember and heal. Best wishes and love to you and your mum. Thank you for sharing.

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  20. Hugs to you. Take comfort in your happy memories. I was conceived by accident and born to my parents in their early 40s. I never knew my paternal grandparents and my maternal ones died when I was young. I lost my parents earlier than I had wanted. My father died 13 years ago. What you just went through is similar to what happened with my mom last year. She was unresponsive at the skilled nursing facility and was taken to the hospital for less than a week. Then returned to the skilled nursing facility for hospice until she died a few days later. It's so hard. So many mixed emotions. I grieved for my loss and yet felt relief she had been released.

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  21. I am so sorry, Heidi. I'm keeping you in my thoughts. What a beautiful post.

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  22. Oh Heidi, I'm so, so sorry for your loss. I lost my grandmother late last year, and reading your touching post stirs up all of those emotions. Wishing you and your family peace and comfort in your memories of her.

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  23. Such a beautiful tribute to your grandmother. So very sorry for your loss, sounds like she was a very special person.

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  24. I am sorry for the loss of you're sweet Grandmother. Please accept my condolences to you and you're family. I am so glad you and you're Mom were with you're Grandmother. The pillow is so pretty and a very special treasure.

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  25. I am so sorry for your loss! You have such wonderful memories with her, and that is going to be a huge comfort in the coming weeks, months and years! Bless you and your family, it is wonderful that you could be there with her as she passed on...Love and prayers to you.

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  26. Heidi Oh!! I'm so sorry for your loss. I know this has been a hard while for you. I'm just so glad that you and your mother could be with her during her passing. She was your gram and your cheerleader and I'm sure you will carry that with you forever. Hugs and prayers to you my friend. Your pillow is absolutely fitting and beautiful. Lizzie

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  27. So sorry for your loss. Your grandmother left so much of herself with you, it will be a comfort to you as the days go by.

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  28. My thoughts are with you and your family at this sad time. ((hugs))

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  29. Heidi, thank you for sharing such an intimate part of yourself with us. This story brought tears to my eyes. This pillow is such a nice palpable reminder of those last moments you three shared.

    I'm sorry for your loss. Hugs.

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  30. I'm so sorry you lost someone so special to you. She sounds like a lovely lady. She is beautiful!! So is the pillow you made. Grandparents are really special and dementia can be so hard. I only had one set of grandparents. Grandpa passed from meningitis from shingles in 07 and that's when it started to be apparent that Grandma had Alzheimers. (did you know that they only know dementia from Alzhemiers after the person passes by looking at the brain? The outcome is similar so it doesn't really matter what you call it). She still remembers my name, but sometimes she mixes it up with my sister or daughter before she gets it out. But having 7 kids and 15+grandchildren and some great-grandchildren, that's to be expected ;) She knows who I am. She has always sewn when I was growing up and I have some very special quilts made my her. It's hard to see her now. My sister passed from cancer in 2010 at the age of 29, so it's really hard for me to visit her more than I do. I know I'm going to lose her soon, even though she's 91 and healthy as a horse. I'm just afraid of that pain, and that is something I really want to change this summer. She has always lived 5 minutes away from me and we grew up there in the summer while my parents were working.

    So I can understand how painful this is. I hope you always keep your pillow close by so you can remember to smile while thinking about her. :) -karrie

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  31. My prayers, thoughts and tears are for you and your family.
    I have also lost my grandparents and feel the pain but also relief you must be feeling. It is such a blessing to know they are safe in his arms again.
    I'm so glad you got to spend that time with your Grandmother. I wish I had had the chance. My Nan passed away when I was 5 but her love of stitching and her faith in God were passed down by my Mum and the stories she tells.
    Hugs and love to you
    Abby

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  32. So glad we have that comfort in knowing we will see our loved ones again. Blessings on your family

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  33. What a tender post, Heidi! I'm so sorry for your loss. Take comfort in knowing you will meet her again some day.

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