Wrapped in a prayer

“Pray, and let God worry.”  — Martin Luther

I absolutely love to knit, and though I’m still a beginner, it is something I really enjoy.

I honestly don’t remember where I initially learned. Memory says my great-aunt taught me, but my mom says it was her. All I can tell you is that as a youngster with a set of knitting needles in hand, I was really uncoordinated and rather confused with the process. So I crocheted instead.

As the years progressed, I became quite proficient at crocheting, but I always yearned to knit. Then I was busy raising four kids so the crafts, needles, yarn and such were stuffed in boxes and forgotten about.

It was so enthralling to watch someone just knitting away – witnessing something beautiful being made in brilliant color and a soft, comforting texture. So, about five years ago, I bought a how-to book and re-taught myself.

A simple kitchen dishcloth was my first successful project, and I have a drawer full of them to prove it! From knitting dishcloths I learned to make a baby blanket – which was simple because it was basically the same pattern with more stitches. And from that blanket I started making Prayer Shawls.

When I’d accompany my mom to my dad’s doctor appointments, I usually brought my knitting. It helped soothe me, because anyone dealing with an Alzheimer’s patient knows that with each doctor appointment or test, the family will most likely hear that the is patient getting worse, not better. And so one of the first prayer shawls I made, I gave to my mom.

The beauty of a prayer shawl is that you can choose to make it for someone in particular (which I have) or make one and donate it to total stranger (which I have done, too). I made a soft-pink shawl for a neighbor with breast cancer, a few shawls for relatives, and a few for several for people that I never met.

Beginning each shawl, I’d thank God for the ability to use my hands for His work, and then to ask Him bless the person who would receive the shawl. I’d pray for the recipient to feel God’s comfort, seek His grace, and that when they needed a big hug from God, they’d put the shawl around them and feel His touch.

Last July, my mom and I were getting my dad admitted to a nursing home. I can’t even begin to articulate the sense of loss we felt. I tried so hard to keep my composure, but once I got home, I completely broke down.

I went to visit Dad the next day, and there was a brown throw on the chair at the foot of his bed. I picked it up and handed it to a nurse’s aide, explaining it didn’t belong to my dad.

With a gentle smile, she said it was in fact his.

“Someone makes and donates prayer shawls to our new residents,” she explained.

With tears in my eyes, I covered my dad with this shawl that was made with the love and prayers of a total stranger. Maybe the knitter went through placing a loved one in a nursing home and knew extra prayers were in order. It was in that moment I realized just how comforting a prayer shawl is to the recipient.

I just wish I could personally thank the person who was so generous with their time and talents. I’m guessing the best way to say thanks is to pay it forward.

Have you made or received a Prayer Shawl? Feel free to share your story.

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

Embracing my inner “geek”

Last summer, I remember there was a really, super-hot day towards the end of June. At the time, my dad was in the hospital. I couldn’t focus on much, so I hopped on Facebook and posted something silly like, “It’s hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk”.

And the conversations began.

“I always wanted to try that,” replied someone. “Does it work?” asked another.

Admittedly, I have always liked science experiments. Baking soda and vinegar volcanoes, Mentos in diet soda, watching celery sticks and Queen Anne Lace drink up food coloring, microwaving almost-stale Peeps…the list goes on and on. So when my cousin almost double-dog-dared me to fry an egg on the sidewalk, what was I to do?

Out the door I went, egg in hand. And a camera, too. Then, like a giddy school girl, I’d run back in the house to update my followers on my experiment. And for the record, the egg started cooking. Kind of a soft-scramble due to the way the egg hit the ground. I was laughing and taking pictures. I’m glad the kids weren’t home, because they’d have been mortified to know that people walking their dogs were staring at me. But I digress.

Of course, I shrugged off the incident as therapy for a rough time period in my life. But the other day, while I was cleaning, that summer-time experiment memory came back and hit me like a ton of bricks.

Then it struck me – I might be a geek.

Serious – I think I am! Maybe because I did some techincal writing recently and learned about things like cloud-based applications and gigs of data and cool stuff like that, but I think there really is a geek hiding within!

Here’s why. We live in what designers like to call “mid-century modern” house. Basically, it’s a small ranch a little older than me, that has a old bathtub that refuses to come clean. Each week I’m scrubbing the blasted thing to no avail. Stinky cleaning products in hand, I run in to the bathroom, hold my breath, spray and scrub until I need to breathe, run out of the bathroom, gasp for air, plug my nose and repeat.

Until I decided enough was enough. This week would be different. And, like a semi-mad scientist, I started to experiment with less-stinky, homemade cleaning products.

A sinister smirk appeared when I started to sprinkle baking soda everywhere. Then, with my trusty spray bottle in hand, I doused the baking soda with the vinegar. Bubbles erupted and fizzing hisses greeted me! This was both entertaining and educational – and it worked! Boy, did I have a blast! Who knew cleaning could be so much fun! Plus, I could breathe while scrubbing, which made my job so much easier!

Why hadn’t I thought of this earlier? It’s not like I haven’t played (safely) as a scientist before. I’ve made my own laundry detergent, mixed my own Easter egg dye and made window cleaner. I’ve helped my kids with science fair projects. Where was my head?

Gosh, I wish I hadn’t ignored my inner geek, because when I did embrace it, cleaning the bathroom was, well, it was kind of fun.

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

Can we call a truce?

Here we go – again. All will be quiet on the front, and then boom – the proverbial bomb drops and the war begins. Is anyone else growing weary of this tired topic?

By now, most people have heard a zillion times about the resurfaced “Mommy Wars” after yesterday’s television and Twitter reports. Working mom vs. stay-at-home mom. Apparently, this conflict will never cease.

Why must this fight continue? Why must all comments on either side of the subject continue to be taken as an insult? Why is stay-at-home mom vs. working mom even a debate?

To say that a woman who stays home to raise her children has “never worked a day in her life” is ignorant. Mothering is a tough and thankless job, in the immediate sense. There is rarely a moment to breathe between changing dirty diapers all day, dealing with overly-curious preschoolers and supervising teenagers. Being a stay-at-home mom isn’t easy – the work is hard – but the rewards are plenty. I know that because I’ve been a stay-at-home mom.

That being said, my heart is compassionate for women who balance work and raising a family. It isn’t easy to be up all night long with a sick preschooler, then try to find someone to watch the child because you have used up all of your sick and vacation time due to the baby being sick. Your mind wanders during a meeting because you are missing yet another skit at school – you couldn’t get the time off. Being a working mom isn’t easy – the work is hard – but the steady check helps to raise the family and secure their future. I know that, because I was also a full-time working mom.

Each one of our choices comes with a price. We know that, and don’t need to be reminded of that. My heart breaks for the women who don’t have a choice. The women forced into work because life threw them a curveball. Or the women forced into resigning the work they love due to a change in economics or family-life.

We mothers are our own worse enemy. Instead of respecting and appreciating the choices we have been blessed with, we are so busy beating each other up over who is correct in their choice. There is no right or wrong, ladies! It is a choice!

Instead of looking at a stay-at-home mom as an unitelligent lazy dolt, look at her with thanks. This is the woman who watches your child walk home from school, making sure no harm comes to him. This woman may be chaperoning your daughter’s trip to the zoo.

And stay-at-home moms, stop looking at working moms as women who are greedy and put the needs of their family behind a paycheck. Look at these women with thanks. These are the women who are on-call when your child gets sick in the middle of the night. These are the women who teach your child how to read.

We should be banding together to keep each other propped up, not tearing each other down.

Enough is enough!

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

Joy

Geez – where does the time go? I honestly feel like we just celebrated Christmas, and we are now ending Holy Week, looking forward to the joy of Easter morning, but also another holiday to celebrate without my dad.

He loved holidays because it gave him the chance to be with his kids and grandkids. Some holidays had the added bonus of other members of our large extended family being able to join in the celebration, which just absolutely made his day. Last Easter brought the pain of watching his quick decline in battling Alzheimer’s. This Easter, though we won’t see him, we will hear him in the hymns. We will hear him say very loudly, “He is risen indeed!” We’ll toast Dad as we gather for dinner, and chat about how weird this “year of firsts without him” really is…

This Easter Sunday also marks what would have been our parents’ 51st wedding anniversary, and I still thank my husband for insisting we do something to celebrate their 50th last year. Oh, to go back and look at photos of the dinner is difficult as you could visually see the decline from the disease. And to see my aunt and uncle (Dad’s siblings) wipe tears as they watched their oldest brother struggle was also hard to witness.

But the depression we felt was diminished by the joy of having the family together. Despite it all, we ate, hugged, laughed and enjoyed life. Kind of like Good Friday….it is so depressing, but then we have the joy of the Resurrection – life is worth celebrating!

April 8th of 2011, I sent a floral delivery to my mom. The card read “Happy Anniversary. All my love, Larry.” That’s how he signed the card every year. He couldn’t order the flowers, so I did it for him. Bless his heart, he liked the flowers I sent, even though he didn’t connect “anniversary.” (And somehow my mom knew I was behind the delivery!)

This April 8th, the flowers I ordered for him this year say “In memory of.” Kind of depressing, I know, but, life is worth celebrating, and he wouldn’t want it any other way.

Blessings to you and yours.

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

 

Forward Motion

A year ago at this time, we watched my Dad steadily decline, succumbing to the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease. The good days were becoming good moments, and those moments were few and far between.

Watching him go downhill was so difficult. Physically, he was strong and healthy. Mentally, the simplest of instructions were a challenge. Simple things we take for granted daily – like brushing your teeth or tying your shoes  – were tasks that he not only couldn’t do, but he couldn’t even understand what he was being asked to do. I remember assisting him by putting his shoes and socks on one morning. There was a brief moment of frustration in his eyes, almost like he was communicating that I shouldn’t be helping him, as he’s the dad. Maybe he briefly remembered tying my shoes when I was little? I don’t know. All I do know is that as our eyes met, mine welled up with tears while helping him, knowing that if he did have any idea what had been going on in his life with this disease, he’d be completely and totally humiliated.

For instance, Dad was 75 years-old. He worshipped nearly every single Sunday of his life. Seventy-five years of Sundays! But, on Easter Sunday last year, he didn’t even get the concept of being in church. Standing and sitting for readings and hymns completely confused him. He didn’t understand Communion – in fact, he made a scene so loud in the sanctuary during Communion that my poor mother hurried him out of the building, my sister trailing not far behind.

I think a good portion of the congregation was in tears witnessing this event. Many had known my dad for years, and they watched the steady downward spiral. It was no secret – his ability to live at home – with my mom caring for him – was coming to an end. A nursing facility was on the horizon for him – or so we thought.

As we move forward in our “first year without him,’ we now come upon Easter. It will be hard attend church and not think of the heartbreak we witnessed last year. But it will be even harder to see his name in the bulletin, as it will be amongst the long list of flowers ordered by those of us missing loved ones. His name will be listed under “In Memory of …”

There are just some things you are not prepared for when you are moving forward.

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

A-A-Achoo!

Yep – that was me sneezing when I caught the inch of dust that had settled on my blog spot! I haven’t written anything on this page in almost a year. Wow. A year. Well, I’d like to say that nothing happened in that time, but, well, that isn’t at all true. I had started the blog to give myself and others a place to come to for support with aging parents – particularly, parents with dementia and Alzheimer’s. I also thought blogging would be a good way for me to expand my journalistic horizons. Good reasons to start writing. Sadly, I didn’t keep up with the blog for a few reasons – the biggest reason was that my dad was hospitalized for a month, and then passed away.

As I start to get back to life, I am doing some cleaning – both around the house and around the soul. I’ve noticed I left a lot of things that I just left hanging – this blog, knitting projects, not calling and setting lunch dates with friends, not scheduling dental appointments, etc. I am sure this lag of is all part of the grieving process. Oh sure, important things were handled, like paying bills and grocery shopping and attending school events. But in other areas, well, let’s say that the dust settled.

As a new spring season begins with energy anew, it seems somewhat fitting to begin to pop back into life from a long winter’s nap. Look for more frequent posts, and as always, feel free to leave me a n

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

ote – especially if you can relate to this post.

 

He said my name

What is in a name? We all know a name is important, and I don’t even need to cite research regarding the importance of one’s name.

One devastating part of Alzheimer’s Disease is when a patient no longer remembers family members’ names. In fact, my dad is at the point where he is familiar with a face, but usually can’t put a name with it. He hasn’t used my name in quite some time. In fact, the last time I heard him say my name was over a year ago. I called my parents’ house, he answered the phone, and said to my mother, “Lynne’s on the phone.” Somehow, my voice matched up with the name.

More recently, he asked “Where’s Lynne?” as I stood right next to him. In that moment, he didn’t know who I was. When I responded, “I’m right here,” he gave me a look that was a combination of disbelief and bewilderment.

I’ve come to accept that. There are a few people he instantly recognizes. Others just confuse him. The randomness of a lucid moment adds to the mystery of the disease.

But, isn’t there always hope in a new day? I stopped at my parents’ house for a quick visit. Dad was just finishing up eating. I sat in the living room, waiting for him to wander in. And that’s exactly what he did – empty plate in his hand, shuffling through the kitchen, he wandered right over to me.

“Lynne, what should I do with this?” he asked, handing me his plate and fork. I was dumbfounded! I couldn’t speak for a moment because my face was locked into an enormous smile!

I don’t remember much after that, as I basked in the sheer joy of having my dad really recognize me. I guess I had resigned myself to the fact that he’d never say my name. And, I was okay with that, since I know that his not using my name, or anyone else’s, isn’t his choice. With this disease, sometimes you just have to come to terms and accept what you never thought you’d have to accept.

And sometimes you are blessed with an unexpected gift!

Random ramblings…

New to blogging, I am trying to add pages while trying to overcome this serious writer’s block! (Why is it that while I am driving around town, great ideas pop into my head. And just as I sit down to share my profound thoughts with the world – poof! – gone!)

But back to the pages I am trying to add…I’m trying to figure out how to add pages so that I can post other topics in addition to my “Random Ramblings.” Useful pages, like dealing with loved one’s facing serious issues. I cite my dad’s Alzheimer’s…a friend’s unemployment that is leading to a financial scare, etc. You get the idea. I’m looking for posts as to how others deal with life curveballs.

I also want to add a “blessings” page, so that we never forget that even when things appear bleak, we’ve been blessed beyond measure.

So, wish me well as I continue to expand my blogging horizons!

Finally!

A-ha! I have entered into a new phase of writing! My blog will be a combo of random writings, links and previously published articles. Be patient with me as I navigate around building my blog!

Welcome to my blog

My first blog post, and I get writer’s block. Oh well, such is life. So many changes this year, and writing online is one of them.

Stop by my blog when you can. I’ll be posting many quips about dealing with change, as that seems to be my life’s theme at the moment. But then, isn’t that really what life is all about? Change – and how we deal with it.