25 April, 2011

A Pillow

There is no clever way to say this. My Dad died.

On April 12 the cancer finally took him. It was very rough there at the end, with struggles to breathe and maintain dignity, with exhaustion and pain.

We buried him a week ago.

My girls, ever the concrete and literal thinkers, obsess over exactly how one exactly gets buried or why those men are singing songs they can't understand in fancy, embroidered capes or what the spear thing is their cousin is carrying or why the bells have smoke or why they can't pull down Dido's baseball cap collection if he is dead now and doesn't need it.

My family struggles with the conflicting emotions of grief and relief.

There are photos I took of the process of dying and moments in the hospitalization that struck me, but they aren't mine to share yet. It's funny, but I think I've crossed the line into some kind of photographer (albeit very amateur) because there were photos I wanted to make, even at the funeral. Making photos is now an outlet for me.

These two photos are of my Baba's embroidery and what we did with it. While we picked the most simple coffin we could, at my father's request, it still had a bit of a ruffly pillow. So we crafted our own. We took some of my Baba's embroidery and appliqued it to a case we made for the coffin pillow. It might seem morbid to share it here, but I know you will all understand. I needed to share the beauty of my Baba's work, and our desire to bury Dad with the work of two generations.


I stood at the prayer and funeral services and delivered the eulogy. It was a challenge, as my relationship with my father was certainly not perfect and actually far from good at times. But he asked me and I couldn't say no. So I stood and told the story of my father and how his story is also mine, is also the story of everyone who knew him. And now it is yours.

I spoke of the need to get down on the floor and play with the little ones even when the dishes need doing or one more seam needs to be sewn. I spoke of never leaving things let unsaid. I spoke of the need to live your life, to make it through the day taking the time to share your story, to create your story with the people around you.

43 comments:

Vicki said...

I'm so sorry for your family's loss.

Paula said...

I am sorry for your loss.

Lisa said...

Very well said. oxox

Lisa said...

Thank you for sharing a little of your family's story with us. I'm so sorry for the loss of your father.

Amy said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, but thank you for sharing your thoughts and the photos of the beautiful embroidery. And that is one of the most beautiful obituaries that I have ever read. I will be thinking of you.

stitchinpenny said...

Death always reminds us that it is a part of life. Pictures and special things are not for the ones who are gone, but for those who shared the life. I hope That the pictures allow you the joy of remembering the good things across the generations and the time in which the family stood together to celebrate a life and how it intertwined with yours.

Adele said...

I lost my Dad last Memorial day also to cancer and I understand cmpletely the internal struggle....of wanting to share things but also wanting to respect the family's wishes.

I read his obituary and he had a very interesting life. I'm glad that he asked you to do the Eulogy I'm sure he knew you would do a great job despite how hard it must have been.

Hang in there...remember the good times.

Baskets Of Quilts said...

I'm sorry for your loss. You and your family will be on my thoughts.

What Comes Next? said...

I am so sorry for you loss, thank you for sharing with us. Hugs, J

Anonymous said...

I'm so very sorry your loss! Thank you for sharing the pillowcase embroidery, very touching!

Megs said...

Thank you for sharing such a personal part of your life. Your words are a reminder of how connected we all are and how important it is to make time for each other.

Quilting Corner said...

I'm saddened to hear of your loss. I too lost my Dad to Cancer. My prayers are with you and your family.
Fondly, Etty

elle said...

You did well, Cheryl. Blessings!

tracy_a said...

I'm so sorry - I've been thinking of your family since the last post on your dad's quilt. Your post was very moving - yes, love is complicated, even (especially?) between parents and adult children. Wishing you well.

Suzanne said...

Cheryl, thank you for sharing this with us. Peace be with you as you ease back into life.

Mama Spark said...

Thank you for sharing in your time of loss and sadness. I look forward to hearing more as you move forward in your changed life. God bless you and your family!

Kimberly White said...

I'm so sorry about your Dad. I think it's wonderful that you could make the pillow for your Dad with the special embroidery. I hope for happy memories to pop up and remind you of your Dad and ease your sorrows.

Dianne said...

The eulogy and the pillow - final gifts for one well loved and deeply respected by his family. These are the things that help one heal, knowing you did your best to honour the soul that touched your life. You are richer in spirit for having done so. Sending blessings to you and your family.

Jen B. said...

My thoughts are with you and your family. It's such a difficult time, after. It's OK to feel relief, it's hard to maintain that level of intense emotion for so long, of needing to feel strong and not show your sadness. It's OK to feel relief that it's over and that he's no longer in pain. It's OK to miss him and feel sad for the future he's not going to be a part of. It's OK. Let yourself feel. (((hugs)))

Kris said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. My heart goes out to your family.

nanann said...

So very sorry for your loss.

Hollie said...

I am so very sorry for your loss.

Jennifer said...

So terribly sorry for your grief; I hope that he is at peace, and in time you will be, too.

Patty D from NC said...

So sorry to hear of your loss.

Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Oh Cheryl, I am so sorry for your Dad’s passing. There are no words that will soothe-wish we closer, I’d hug you.

Esch House Quilts said...

Cheryl,
My heartfelt condolences to you and your family. Thank you for sharing your Baba's work and such a beautifully told story.

Susan Being Snippy said...

So sorry for your loss. You are so right about keeping the memories in photographs and telling the stories.

badlandsquilts said...

I am sorry for your loss and admire your strength to share this.

amandajean said...

I'm sorry for the loss of your dad. These type of blog posts are the hardest to write, but can't be ignored, either. You did well. I'm here if you need a listening ear.

Victoria said...

This is very touching Cheryl. The stitch work is beautiful, and your wanting to share it here is not morbid at all. Hugs to you for being strong and giving the eulogy. I know how hard that must have been. My father also asked if I would speak at his funeral, and I was the only family member to do so. It was extremely hard, and we also had a sometimes rocky relationship... hitting our worst moments right before he was diagnosed, and never fully recovering from them.

Death has a way of slowing us down and giving us a new perspective... not just emotionally, but visually as well. Keep taking your photos. xo

Shirley said...

I am so sorry for your loss. The pillow is beautiful work. God Bless you and your family.

Jan | Daisy Janie said...

Thank you for sharing in such a thoughtful and beautiful way - I hope these words are cathartic for you. xo Jan

CitricSugar said...

So sorry, Cheryl.

Beautifully written. The pillow is lovely.

Much love and many wishes of healing for you and yours.

Andrea Pisano said...

The photo of her father's hands speak for alone . Thank you for sharing of your family's story with us. I'm so sorry for the loss of your father.
happy his return to blog

sulu-design said...

I am so sorry for your loss, and so touched to read what you said at the funeral services. You and your family are in my thoughts.

aracne said...

My Mother is at the last stage of cancer as well. We do not know how long it will take, probably she will not celebrate her 87th birthday.
Thank you for your post, it gives me the courage to accept death as a part of life.
I understand the need of chanelling grief into something hand made and meaningful.

Samantha said...

belated love to you at this time.

Can I tell you that I smiled to hear your dad had a baseball cap collection too? Mine left behind many many boxes full- and we're trying to figure out how to display them in mom's new house...

Kristyne said...

Prayers to you from me.

Melissa said...

I'm sorry for your loss. I also lost my father on the 17th of this month and it hasn't been easy. Thank you for sharing your story.

Kat said...

My condolences for your loss.

Kate @SwimBikeQuilt said...

Thinking about you and your family. This was beautifully expressed.

Cynthia said...

Thank you for sharing. My mom died 18 months ago from cancer. It is still hard at times. I love the beauty and truth of what you shared in how to live life to the fullest even when there is more to be done. Thank you.

Corrie said...

oh I'm so sorry. I feel your loss as I lost my mum on the 29th march. to cancer. I felt weird but i took a few photos in the church and afterwards to remember it. I didn't share them on my blog. It's been hard since she left but having a family of my own and craft to keep me busy makes it easier!!!!
corrie:)