Thank You

December 20, 2008 at 10:54 am 57 comments

Thank you for surrounding me with love. The hundreds of blog comments, emails, cards, and letters of condolence have touched my heart in ways I can’t even begin to express. Through my tears I’ve read them all, most of them more than once, grateful for the kindness and the wisdom you shared. I have printed the e-stuff, punched holes in the letters, and put the cards in plastic pages all in a big binder because I’m going to read them again. Some are so profound I want to use my yellow highlighter!

I’m discovering that grief is a lot like menopause. Tears come like hot flashes, when I least expect them. Unlike the hot flashes I am learning to recognize the triggers:  sights, smells, songs, basically anything that reminds me of Mom. Yeah, I’m a mess. I should buy stock in Kleenex.

But, I am acknowledging my grief. That’s a good thing.  For so many years, I just put a cork in it and soldiered on. It’s a new experience.

And what am I learning?

1. Blinking quickly doesn’t make tears evaporate off your eyeballs. You can’t blink that fast. Best to just give it up and wipe your eyes. A good nose-blowing works wonders too.

2. Don’t attempt to acknowledge condolence cards in public, like on an airplane. (See #1.)

3. Don’t NOT think about the person you lost because you’re cheating yourself out of the experience of remembering. Let your mind wander and go where it needs to go, otherwise your head might explode. (Just wait until you land.)

4. If your mom wore Channel #5 go the the perfume counter at the department store, find the free sample, and spritz some on. Sometimes walking around all day smelling your wrists is just what you need to do.

snowman5. In the depths of your sorrow, if you have an urge to build a snowman, obey the urge. It’s great fun, especially with your grown-up daughter. While you’re embracing memories of the past you need to make memories for the future.

6.  “Final arrangements” should comfort the living.  If you want to throw a party to celebrate the life of the one you lost, the people who love you will not only understand they will help. (Hey! I’ve got some serving dishes and spoons with no names on them that aren’t mine. If you’re missing something, I’ve got them!)

7. There’s no “right way” to do a lot of things. Grieving is one of them.

8. There probably IS a “really good way” to sew little squares cut from Mom’s cotton/spandex shirts into a quilt, but for the life of me I can’t figure out what it is. Special needle? Stitch? Foot? WHAT?! Can you help me out?

Ami Simms

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Entry filed under: Mom.

Her Name Was Beebe And We Helped!

57 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Deb Sims  |  December 20, 2008 at 11:34 am

    I find it’s the smallest things that bring back the grief. My mother died Dec. 27, 2007, almost a year ago, and I still cry when I see her slippers. I couldn’t bear to give them away when we went through her clothes. I have made her cream cheese banana bread recipe about 20 times in the last few weeks just to be closer to her. Thankfully my family loves it! And when I’m Christmas shopping I will see something and think “Oh, that’s the perfect gift for mother.” I know conventional wisdom says time heals all wounds but from my point of view, this one will take forever. Know that you have a sister of the heart who shares your tears and joys. Peace to you this holiday season, Ami.
    Deb

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  • 2. Susan  |  December 20, 2008 at 11:38 am

    God bless you, Ami! It took me months after my dad died to realize the things that you have listed. It was a year in October and life is getting easier without him, but I still have my moments. One thing that I am sure of…it does take time.
    I also have my dad’s cotton shirts and ties packed away in my attic waiting to be made into a quilt, but I don’t have it in me to cut into them just yet. I think I will be ready one day soon though. I would suggest backing the cotton/spandex with a fusible interfacing…much like you would for a t-shirt quilt.

    I’m keeping you in my thoughts and prayers this holiday season.

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  • 3. Amy  |  December 20, 2008 at 11:41 am

    I like your #7. Our family lost six loved ones in a three year period. If there’s anything I learned, it’s that each person grieves in his/her own way. Sometimes the way one person grieves complicates the way another grieves. We each get through the best way we know how, and no one should judge another in how he/she copes.

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  • 4. Cam Wilsie  |  December 20, 2008 at 11:44 am

    You are so right! There is no one way to grieve. And it does come in waves. And it does catch us by surprise as we suddenly find tears running down our cheeks.

    You are so smart to acknowledge the power of scent–it’s one of our senses that stores those strong early memories. Indulge–buy your own bottle of Mom’s favorite scent from your childhood.

    For making the quilt, try backing the pieces with non-woven interfacing to stabilize them. Another idea, consider making teddy bears (or another favorite critter, like dog or cat) out of her favorite shirts and then you can get hugs back when you need them. Scent the teddies with her favorite perfume or herb, maybe lavender could be sewn into a pouch and inserted as part of the filling.

    Most importantly, be gentle with yourself. If you can just manage getting out of bed some days, and only have the urge to sit with cups of tea watching the snow fall and a hand on your dear devoted Golden, give in to it. There is absolutely NOTHING that can’t wait until you’re ready to do it, and that includes writing those responses.

    The fatigue fades, the energy returns, the tears subside as you learn to live in this world without your Mom. This happens in its own good time, and cannot be rushed.

    My mom’s been gone three years this past Dec. 17, and I still have my moments of dialing her phone number and being surprised that a stranger answers, or driving to her house and not recognizing the car in the driveway. I still shed tears as I am doing so now. This is the way it is, and I apologize to no one for remembering, honoring, missing my mom.

    Sincere compassion and empathy is sent to you,
    Camille

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  • 5. Janice  |  December 20, 2008 at 11:46 am

    I still have my Mother’s little make up bag & open it once in awhile (when I accidently run onto it digging thru drawers) and can faintly smell “her”…..after 11 years it’s almost fading but at first it was so strong I was “sniffing” that bag constantly! Hang in there…you are doing great and don’t let anyone tell you how to grieve…everyone is different.
    Holidays will be hard but you will get thru them…Love you & continue to keep you in thought & prayer.

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  • 6. kandy  |  December 20, 2008 at 11:56 am

    i’M SO SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS, i PRAY FOR ALL THOSE IN THE SAME CIRCUMSTANCE. DO WHAT FEELS BEST FOR YOU , DO NOT DO WHAT OTHERS THINK YOU SHOULD. YOU KNOW YOURSELF BEST. LOVE KANDY.

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  • 7. Judy in Austin  |  December 20, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    So glad to hear from you again, Ami. I did a “Walking the Mourner’s Path” course recently. One of the points they noted is that first holidays are difficult. Celebrating in a different way may be what you need. I’m going to spend Christmas at home this year, which I never got to do before. But this year I’m going to be kind to myself. I hope you are, too. (kind to yourself, that is, not kind to me!) (on second thought, you can be kind to me, too)
    Wear a t-shirt that says “don;t expect too much from me” if you need to! Virtual hugs, Judy

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  • 8. Jean  |  December 20, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    You are right, Ami, there is no right or wrong way to grieve but time does make your loss more bearable. Please accept my sympathy on the death of your mother.

    In regards to a quilt made from her blouses…I have a niece that just finished making a quilt from her grandmothers blouses and she used the Quilt-in-a-Day pattern ‘Nana’s Garden’. It turned out beautifully! She didn’t do anything special except she washed all of the fabric she used first.

    Sincerely,
    Jean

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  • 9. Humbly  |  December 20, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    Tears are Gods way of healing………….
    Celebrate her life as you will want someone to celebrate yours some day in the far distant future. Getting a building full of people together to share their memories is an eye opener…makes one realize how much of an influence our loved one had on everyone…each in a different way it seems. And we thought I “knew” her!

    “A really good way” to sew the square together???? I would go with an old Victorian styled ‘crazy’ quilt full of rich velvet pieces tossed in to represent the richness that was unspoken but ever present…….the warmth of love and caring and security that came from just a touch.

    Celebrate this Christmas knowing that she is there with all of you and will always be.
    Mona

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  • 10. BrendaLou Scott  |  December 20, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    ami,
    your mom would be proud of you the way you are working it all out. I know my mom is proud of me for that…she’s been “gone” for 6 years….but not really gone because I talk to her in my head, I see her in a rose garden, I am enjoying life with her beside me. and so will your daughter when you are gone.
    hugs, I’m proud of you too!
    BrendaLou Scott
    Scottie Dog Quilts
    Eureka, CA

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  • 11. Ruth Garrett  |  December 20, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    I remember from losing my mom (almost 7 years ago) that everything you said is so true. Two things (in particular) struck me. One is your thought about Channel #5. That’s what my mom wore too. I love your idea to wear it around the mall all day. Since I’ll be shopping this weekend I may just do that.

    The other thing was the party in which you celebrated your mom’s life. Not long after my mom’s funeral, I was remembering the night at the funeral home when we received visitors. It was an evening filled with laughter and joy. We saw old friends we hadn’t seen in years – including my 6th grade teacher! I was touched watching my youngest ‘work the room’ filled with adults he’d never met. It remains one of my happiest memories of my life.

    Some months later, I was looking back at the evening and was horrified. Was that the way we were supposed to be behaving at the funeral home?? Eventually, I realized that my mom would have loved it.

    The best thing I ever heard about grief was from a woman who had lost her husband a few years before. “Our burdens do not get lighter, but we get stronger as we carry them.”

    I find it is true. I miss my mom as much today as I ever did. But, missing her is a part of me and I am not overwhelmed by it now. Blessings to you and all who loved Bebe.

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  • 12. Melinda  |  December 20, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    After my mom died, I took some of her favorite shirts and made small teddy bears for my daughter and son. After a friend died, I asked her husband for some of her shirts and made bears for her sons and daughter and her husband. One shirt was a denim shirt, soft from years of wear – they really made nice bears. Nofacial featers, just 7 inch bears. To hug and smell.

    As the writer above mentioned – she’s on your shoulder – talk to her as much as you want.

    Melinda

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  • 13. Kitty Hettinger  |  December 20, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    I thank you, Ami, for helping “me.” I, too, am dealing with a terrible loss. Your words have made me more accepting of my many moments of pain and tears. I lost my husband of 45 years in July and I find myself thinking and doing everything you have mentioned. We all know that time heals but we wonder if we will survive until then. You are a strong woman with strong family support that will get you through this. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your post. And, I like the teddy bear idea.

    Kitty

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  • 14. Joy  |  December 20, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    Ami, my thoughts and prayers will be with you and your family as you approach your first Christmas without her there. Don’t be afraid to LAUGH! That would be my advice. I am sure your mom and you shared that wonderful sense of humor, so if you can laugh, with or without the tears, you will find it to be healling. Big hugs!!!
    Joy

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  • 15. Mary Ann Scanlon  |  December 20, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    After 25 yrs I still miss Mom but now I remember all the good times and the difficult days in Hospice don’t muscle them aside they way they once did. Tonight I’ll be baking Chrsitmas cookies withmy grown daughter using Mom’s hand written recipe, I know we’ll shed a tear or two but the love will fill the kitchen and my heart. I love your list, its so intuitive but so often we go with what we think emotions should be instead of following our hearts. Blessings to you and yours this season and once again, thank you for sharing your journey the last few years, it has given many folks comfort and strength with theirs.

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  • 16. Janie Todd  |  December 20, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Hi, Ami…..That cotton/spandex thing? Try a ball point needle and polyester thread….methinks cotton/spandex is a first cousin to the
    old double knits that made sewing all new in the 70’s…give it a try….j

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  • 17. Pam Nix  |  December 20, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    Cry. Cry wherever you are no matter who is around. It heals. I lost my dad in July (1964) and my mom was hit by a car while visiting me in CA on my birthday in December that same year. I had to identify her at the morgue that night because she had no ID on her. But I heard a woman had been killed crossing a street by my house and I knew it was her, somehow, I knew. I don’t remember much of the next 5 months after bringing her home to Minneapolis for the funeral. She died on my 21st birthday and I’m now 64. I miss never getting her recipes, knowing them both as friends instead of just parents, and learning as an adult how much knowledge they had. I now think of them in all the good times we had. That took a while. And a little therapy. God Bless You – the pain will go away, the anger that sometimes comes will go away, and then the good memories will comfort you and often make you laugh. And you will laugh one day at a thought, even if later you cry. Do it all, and throw something if you’re mad that parents leave.
    I read your email every day and I pray for your comfort to come. It will. Pam Nix

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  • 18. Bunny  |  December 20, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Ami, I haven’t written until now, but I have been praying for you and crying with you through all of your recent sorrow. My Mom died over Labor Day weekend last year. I am fine most of the time. Last week, however, I burst into tears while hubby and I were shopping because we came upon the fruitcake display. Tears were streaming down my face – as I laughed that Mom and I were probably the only two people in the world who actually liked fruitcake – and I don’t like it right now! Maybe next year, maybe. As regards the fabric of unknown content: I have Sandra Betzina’s book, “Fabric Savvy”, which is very helpful IF and when you know the content. In general, Sandra says that Lycra (spandex)/cotton blends would take an 80/12 universal needle and poly thread to accomodate the stretch. Standard pressor foot. If that doesn’t work, you might have to try a “stretch” or ballpoint needle and/or your walking foot. Maybe a very slight zig-zag. You may just have to experiment. Meanwhile, I will be thinking of you. B

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  • 19. Nancy R Nelson  |  December 20, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    There is nothing more I can say. You friends have said it all. My MOM died on Mothers Day. the whole family were at the nursing home that afternoon. Vickie and I walked down the hall crying saying that it seemed that she could not live much longer. Vickie and her family left for Ohio. About an hour after we left she passed. My thought was “her mothering was over. She had seen all of her family so it ws OK to go” That was in 1984 so grieving does get better and goes away after time and all the good memories stay on. I’m 80 years old so have so many memories of my family who have passed into the other world.

    What I appreciate about you is your willingness to handle your sorrow with humor and share your thoughts with all of us.

    With love and prayers, Nancy

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  • 20. Sandy  |  December 20, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    So glad to see you back blogging. I have thought about you and your Mom many, many times these past weeks. I had not had the pleasure of meeting either of you, but through your newsletter and blog I felt like I knew you both just a little.
    I lost my Mom in 2001 at the age of 81. I have a bottle of her cologne by Gloria Vanderbilt and I still spritz it into the air every couple of months or so and walk through it….I still feel the essense of her when I do that.
    My God Bless you and your family at this time of year….the first holidays are always the worst.

    Blessings, Sandy in cold, icy NE Ohio….

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  • 21. Bonnie  |  December 20, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Ami:
    My Mom has been gone since March of 2004. There are still times when I cry. I believe it is called being human, but I am also a “crier.” A good cry helps to cleanse the system and relieve stress. Denying how you are feeling only increases stress, and increases possibility of unexpected outbursts. You don’t have to be owned by your feelings though. You still have choice in how you respond to them. That seems to help me.

    Now, to the easier question. Stretch tricot interfacing definitely helps stabilize the cotton/spandex, and then it makes it easier to deal with it. That and also try to use bigger pieces. I also try to work it in with cottons cut on the bias so they work together.

    God Bless You and your family. Prayer BEFORE you feel like you have no where to turn helps me also.
    Love, Bonnie

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  • 22. Margaret Light  |  December 20, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Oh Ami, memories; they can still be fresh 20 plus years later! I still have my Mum’s wallet just the way she had it, I did have two slippers but over the years one seems to have found a space somewhere else :) A small bottle of cologne that my Nan had is stashed in my wardrobe. Touching and smelling bring them both right next to me and have for many years. I still have tears when this time of year arrives, they were so very special. Ami, I know you will treasure each and every memory. Once again my thoughts are with you, Steve and Jeni, enjoy this Season, recall quirks and sayings of your Mum, laugh at most please, but I know you will cry at some. Find some peace in knowing how wonderful she was, and feel the love that reaches through these comments to you. Peace on earth and goodwill to all. Love Margaret

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  • 23. Polly Blank  |  December 20, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    Ami,
    You are one strong lady. You don’t know how much you are helping those of us who have this life event yet to go through. Mine is coming sooner than most since my 93 year old Mother is living in a care facility with the same disease. You are right, everyone handles life and all it’s ups and downs in their own way. Don’t think about what others think but do what is right for you. Loved your snowman.

    As an idea of what to do with your Mom’s shirts, a friend of mine made pillows out of her second husband’s dress shirts. He was a business man and wore those all the time. She basically sewed the shirt to a backing, looking just like a shirt, sewing the flap closed and the collar down. She left the pocket open and put a note in it that it was their Dad’s shirt and gave them to his kids. It would also be something to hug like the teddy bear idea above.

    I’m glad your daughter and your husband are there with you and of course Madison.

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  • 24. Karen L.  |  December 20, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    Ami…You are doing fine, although sometimes you may not feel you are. Let those tears flow, they are healing. Even when you think “you’re under control” and run into someone who mentions your Mom or you see one of the many little remembers of your Momm, the tears are right below the surface and seep out. Your list is wonderful and brought me comfort.

    My Dad passed a little over four years ago and is still “here” with little reminders.

    This summer, my son lost custody his nearly 14 year old son (through no wrong-doing of his own)…The child’s Mom decided she wanted him all to herself. So, we are grieving through this ourselves. I’m still doing a lot of blinking….more as I decorated our Christmas tree, on seeing things our grandson made.

    Know that you’re being thought of often by all of us who have “been there”. Take your time and cherish the memories.

    Karen

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  • 25. Anita  |  December 20, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    You give very good advice, I have printed this list for my and possibly my childrens future use.
    An idea for the quilt made from your mother’s knit shirts is to use the squares on one side and if she wore flannel nightgowns use them on the other side and make a rag style quilt. I would cut the flannel side and let the shirt side be smooth. I hope this helps.
    Having lost my own mother suddenly 22 years ago and my dearest friend / mother-in-law 4 years ago I know that nothing I say will lessen your grief. I am glad you are experiencing it in a healthy way.
    Also, one of my fondest quilt memories is when my daughter and I attended one of your classes together (she was still a teenager) and you had brought your mother to Charleston with you. It is wonderful to have interest in common between mothers and daughters, even if the passion for the interest is not matched the common thread is binding.
    I am glad you are posting again, and wish you the best.

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  • 26. Jane  |  December 20, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    My grandmother passed away 13 1/2 years ago, and Passover is still the most difficult time of year for me. I spent every Passover for as long as I can remember helping to get ready for the seders, and now I have all of the pots and pans and recipes that were hers. It took me a few years to be able to open the box of stuff, but now it is a nice feeling when I do. But there are still times that I start to call her and realize that she won’t answer. It will take time, but the good feelings will come-take as long as you need to. We will all be here to help you along if you need us.

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  • 27. Carmen Grant  |  December 20, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Amy. We took care of my mom for 14 1/2 years. She had Alzheimers’. Other than that and some arthritis, she was as healthy as a 30 year old. She died 3 days after Christmas in 2005. For us and her, it was a relief. She had been very depressed for the last 3 years, couldn’t understand why she couldn’t do the work she’d done just “last week”, couldn’t understand why her mom didn’t come to see her anymore, and she just wanted to “go home”. Again, my sympathies are with you.

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  • 28. shari  |  December 20, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    Ami, be gentle with yourself. You are right…there is no timetable for this, no right or wrong way. Go by what feels right each day. I love your idea of wearing “her” scent for a day. I kept one of my dad’s jackets. It’s in a zipper-top-bag in my closet. Sometimes I go in there and sniff and hug it, and it’s been three years since we lost him. Smell is our first and most powerful memory.

    Do what you can, leave the rest for another day. Cherish time with your husband and daughter and other loved ones this holiday. And know we’re all thinking of and praying for you.

    Blessings to you and your family. Take your time.

    Peace,
    Shari K.

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  • 29. Cindy Cooksey  |  December 20, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    #6 is sooo true. We threw a party (we called it a “remembrance gathering”) to celebrate my mom’s life, and it was tremendously comforting to laugh, cry, and exchange memories with my brothers, aunt, and cousins. It’s important to remember the good times. I’m glad to hear you are coping well…

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  • 30. Sarah  |  December 20, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    Dear Ami,
    You are so insightful, and your list of lessons learned rings true from my experience with the death of my husband. Don’t be surprised if the lessons continue over the next few years as you grieve and heal. One thing I learned is that my body somehow knows the date of my husband’s death. Many years I have found myself feeling blue in the fall, only to look at the calendar and realize that it is the anniversary of his death (it has been 18 years). Keep being yourself, relish the memories and the laughter, hug your daughter and your husband, play with your dog, and know that you are loved by many all over the country.

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  • 31. Ann  |  December 20, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    Ami l love your mention of the scent your mother wore. My mother died in 1970 and years later I found some Dioressimo perfume that she wore. I wear it now because I like it and me makes me feel loved and cared for. My mother died at Christmas and I want to say that you won’t forever have the hoilday season associated with saddness. It does take time and I am heartened to hear that you are allowing yourself the freedom to experience the loss as you do.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences.
    Ann

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  • 32. Cindi  |  December 20, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    Ami,
    Please accept my condolences on your mom’s passing. Know that she is in a better place where Alzheimers does not exist and she remembers everything. Ami, she can still hear and see you. Talk to her, sing to her, she will be singing with you. I am proud of the love you showered on her and I thank you so much for the incredible knowledge you have passed to so many of us about life, love, quilting, Alzheimers, compassion, caring and striving for a better world. God Bless you and keep you strong. If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.
    My heart is with you,
    Cindi (Florida)

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  • 33. virtualquilter  |  December 21, 2008 at 12:18 am

    Ami,
    Yes it is like menopause. perfect description.
    My Mum died in May 2006, and Dad organised a ‘birthday lunch’ on her birthday in August that year, for family and her best friends. Our shock at her sudden death had subsided but we sort of expected a day with a lot of sadness. It was far from a sad day!
    We ate, then we all had to tell a ‘Mum’ story, with as much embellishement as we wanted, and not letting the truth stand in the way of a good story. Most of the tears were caused by laughter, we all heard stories we had never heard before, or heard the unedited version for the first time.
    Mum would have loved to be there in person, but we all felt her with us that day. The special days in the rest of that first year were still hard, but that day was magic, and the start of the new memories.
    Allow the sad moments, enjoy the memories.

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  • 34. amy  |  December 21, 2008 at 12:37 am

    RE: #8 — A few years ago, I did a t-shirt type quilt for a dear friend who lost her mother to cancer. Gina wanted to include pieces of two of her mother’s swimsuits in the quilt. I wound up doing satin-stitch applique to adhere roughly 3″ squares of the swimsuits to a sweatshirt that was also important to Gina. It wasn’t perfect. They didn’t stay “square.” But they were in the quilt and that’s what was important.

    I don’t sew for others all the time, and when I do, it’s mostly for baby quilts for something for close friends. I actually got two thank-you notes from Gina, the second one about two years after I gave her the finished quilt.

    My advice would be that in this situation, applique is your friend. Thanks for checking in and keep healing. It certainly takes time.

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  • 35. Rae Linda  |  December 21, 2008 at 1:35 am

    Ami.. even in your grief you are one of the most thoughtful, loving people I have ever had the pleasure to meet (and I have met you, twice!) But I never appreciated you the way I do now. You have a way of condensing life experiences to one that everyone can relate to and it brings comfort in the most unexpected ways.

    I have lost my mother 3 years ago. She was a wonderful, smart and downright smarty-alec ee woman and I miss her everyday.. but she is always with me. People used to tell me that I resembled my mother and of course when I was younger, I would say NO WAY! Now I just say “Thank You” and smile because there is no greater compliment to me.

    I laugh when I remember some of the things she would say and I laugh when I say something and then think “that sounds like something Mom would say!” I know she is with me!

    God Bless You Ami, grieve and celebrate your Mom in your own way and time.. and please continue to share with us when you can.

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  • 36. Toddy Sumsky  |  December 21, 2008 at 7:29 am

    This is hard to write thru the tears, It has been 28 years and I am sitting here crying like a baby. This do get better, you may even go a day with out her flashing thru your mind and than like now you watch someone going thru the fresh pain and it is all back, just as bad as the first time. Christmas is not so hard for me as we where in the Navy so unable to spend Christmas with family, My time is Mothers Day, So here is my thought. She has just gone into another room. She is still there,
    God Bless you.
    Toddy in St.Pete,Florida

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  • 37. Eileen Hagen  |  December 21, 2008 at 11:00 am

    I lost my mother this past Monday. My two sisters and I were with her. That was such a gift. I have been following your journey as I have been taking mine. My mother is where she has wanted to be for awhile. I miss her terribly but have no regrtes. Myself and my brothers and sisters took great care of Mom, as you did yours,and we wanted her last days to be peaceful, which they were.
    Tears come at strange times and so do laughs. We need both.
    My thoughts are with you.

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  • 38. Quilting_Librarian  |  December 21, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Ami, I have gone through this with my Mom-in-Law and that was 3 1/2 years ago. I still tear up at times. Please know that we all love you and your mom is up in heaven looking down and sending you good thoughts as well. The snowman is perfect. What a great thing to share with your daughter, no matter how old she is!

    A thought on the squares of your mom’s shirts. How about sewing them to some kind of a foundation? I have seen that recommended for t-shirt quilts and think it would work in your situation, too. Don’t force it too soon. Do this when you are ready and not before. The squares will still be there. I have yet to make my memory quilts from my MIL’s clothes, but I will get to it eventually, when I’m ready.

    I hope you have a good Christmas. Allow time to cry and laugh. You will do both, I know. Happy quilting. Rosemarie

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  • 39. Kathy  |  December 21, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Dear Ami,
    My mom died Sept. 1993. My sister and I both have some of her ashes. We keep her memory alive by taking her with us to special events and gatherings. It may sound silly, but it comforts. She’s traveled way more since passing than she did before. We wonder how she’d feel to know that she’d finally flown, or that she’s been to Costa Rica, Beliz and Australia! It puts a smile on our faces and in our hearts. We all have our special, personal way of mourning. Do whatever you need – whatever is a comfort to you. I wish you all well.

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  • 40. a fellow quilter  |  December 22, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Ami, I was so sorry to learn about your mom. I share your grief because in Oct I lost my oldest daughter and oldest grandson in a car accident, and it is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. My quilting friends and the love of God is what has gotten me this far. May God bless.

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  • 41. Liz  |  December 23, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Ami,

    I am sitting here at the computer, tearing up since Mom died in August. In reading these comments, I feel like I have a community of friends helping me out through this first Christmas without her. I am up here in Michigan, spending my last Christmas in the house, but I did have a nice time setting up the Christmas tree. I am going through the house and I find that I am picking things that are small but remind me of Mom.

    I have Dad’s ties to be made into something in the future. I’ll be taking some of her sweaters to make into pillows, complete with arms to give me a hug in the future. I like the idea of adding a scent package in the pillow – we are both “herbies’ so a bit of lavender or rosemary (for rememberence) would be nice. There are a lot of papers and stuff I am taking back home (Oklahoma) to look through later. I figure that eventually, I will be able to toss some and put some into family history books for her granddaughters (my nieces).

    Mom decided that she wanted to be laid to rest near me, and not up here in Michigan next to Dad. Part of me understands that – she wants me to visit her, and part of me does not understand why she doesn’t want to be next to the love of her life. I found the love letters, but they are stored for later reading, if ever. But, I have found that grabbing some lunch and stopping by to talk to her helps a lot. And of course, since we shared a bottle of champagne every evening for the last couple years while she lived witth me, one of those tiny bottles is usually opened and enjoyed wth her as I tell her of my days.

    Mom also like to party, so I am planning an Eight Bells ceremony and party soon in her honor. It will be fun, with lots of champagne and firing the cannon. We were a sailing family – Dad was commodore of his sailing club and I became the rear commodore of my sailing club the year he passed away. Eight Bells Ceremony is something that my club does in honor of someone passing away – “eight bells” is the end of a watch.

    Thanks to all for “listening” to me….and I’ll be doing some of those small qults for your Alz. project. Mom was starting to forget things but was well enough to still live with me. But it is still a cause that I believe in. take care of yourself and be happy in your memories of her.

    Liz

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  • 42. Mary Kirwin  |  December 23, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Hi Ami!

    I love your snowman! Seasons Greetings!

    Happy/Merry

    Mary

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  • 43. Quayquilter  |  December 24, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Ami, what a wonderful mother you had and what a wonderful caring daughter she had. It was time to say goodbye and good to know too that life was still so precious to your mom she clung on so long. I’m sure your care made her life worth living. I expect that given your commitment you are experiencing a big gap in your life now, a change of focus and routine. I hope you will come to enjoy your new found freedom. Your mom had a long and fulfilling life and those she loved by her side to the end. That we can be grateful for. Alzheimers is the pits though and let’s hope we can find a remedy of sorts… Mary Cunningsworth, one of your Cabot class in the UK!

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  • 44. Fannie  |  December 24, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    Merry Christmas, Ami. Thanks for all you do and for the opportunity you give to all of us to help with Alzheimer’s research. I’m honored to participate in AAQI with you and fellow donors, and most grateful for our friendship.

    You are loved,
    ~Fannie

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  • 45. Susan  |  December 25, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    I am sure today comes with lots of mixed emotions for you, but I hope that most of all that it brings you joy, happiness and peace!

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  • 46. PegDeyoe  |  December 30, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    Ami, God Bless You!!! You sound like you are doing well. Greieving is hard, and extremely painful, but necessary to healing. Everyone’s grief is in different ways, and no one grieves for the same amount of time. It is soooooo hard to lose a loved one. My sentiments are like those of others who posted ahead of me. We all care. Many many hugs (((((((Hugs)))))). Peg Deyoe

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  • 47. Val Champ  |  January 1, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    To sew your Mom’s clothing into a quilt Ami, use a light weight knit style stabilizer. Iron the fabrics to it and then cut them a bit large. Make the patches simple and use a walking foot. Trim after to the size that you want. Simple 4 or 9 patches are the best I think, or do some innovative curves if you like by layering and cutting. If you can layer then cut gentle curves you can sew them back together. On the spandex, I would use rayon thread and use decorative top stitching also with the even feed foot. The main thing is to have fun, keep it simple and remember your Mom…that’s all, just remember.
    Val

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  • 48. Deb McHugh  |  January 1, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    Ami, I lost my mom very unexpectedly a year ago. I just wanted to share with you some of the things we did with her clothes and her huge “stash” of fabric. My sister-in-law, who was not even a quilter, made me a quilt out of Mom’s favorite t-shirts. I will always treasure it. What a surprise! then for this Christams she made all of the grandkids pillows out of her sweaters, even for the boys. they are great! I am making people quilts with her stash. I just started a Pat Sloan pattern Times Remembered, using only fabrics that she had collected. It’s soothing to know that she picked out and touched each piece. God Bless you and your family. You will never stop missing her but it does get easier.

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  • 49. Dot  |  January 2, 2009 at 9:16 am

    Ami
    I am so sorry to hear about your mom. My mom died 3 years ago and I miss her everyday. Moms are just so special, be kind to yourself during the process of grief.
    When I had my shop in Genoa IL we made proirity quilts for you.
    Dot

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  • 50. Lucille Doxey  |  January 2, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Dear Ami,
    My husband of 51 years and 2 weeks, died suddenly on the tennis court Nov. 7. Due to all the decisions, arrangements, organ and tissue donation, shock, grief, memories, etc — I have just learned of your loss. Reading your perceptions in the blog this morning has been helpful to me, and I thank you.
    I took one of your workshops in East Aurora/Orchard Park NY, with my friend Peggy Mages, so almost feel I know you.
    God bless you. Lu

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  • 51. Mrs. Goodneedle  |  January 2, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    Wishing you sweet smiles of remembrance to equal the tears, in the days and weeks that come. It’s times like this that I always feel that our hearts are just too fragile for this world. But, with time, comes peace. Your aching heart will gradually mend, but never again will it be the same, it can’t be. But, it will be strong again, as you will be too, thanks for all that you do for so many. Take time for you!

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  • 52. Mary Jensen  |  January 2, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    After my mom passed away, one of my sisters took some of her sweatshirts (she had quite a collection of themed sweatshirts), bedspreads, and the like and turned them into memory bears (just a standard teddy bear pattern you can buy from the craft section of the pattern books and small memory quilts about 30-36″ square – just the right size to place on a cedar chest, table, quilt rack or on the wall). She made standard 9-patch type quilts, cut out the design from the front of the sweatshirt and then appliqued it to the center of the quilt. Simple but very effective. But beware: My youngest daughter, who is graduating from high school this year, broke down sobbing at the sight of grandma’s sweatshirt, as it reminded her that grandma wouldn’t be seeing her graduate, getting married, etc., etc. But I hope she will be comforted knowing that grandma will be “with her” during all of those mementous occasions via the quilt. Extra note: I’m looking for photos of mom wearing the sweatshirts to frame and match up with the quilts.
    Good luck and take care.
    Mary Jensen

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  • 53. Margie  |  January 3, 2009 at 12:27 am

    I lost my dad to Alzheimer’s on June 30 this year. He was 84, and had lost the ability to speak as well as the use of his eyes and limbs, but he could still enjoy his chocolate ice cream. My thoughts are with you. We had collard greens and black eyed peas yesterday in his memory.

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  • 54. Wendy Cooper  |  January 4, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Ami… my heart goes out to you. I lost my Mother 10 years ago and the tears still come. Your Mother and I share the same birthday and I have a wonderful piece of fabric incorporated in one of my quilts that she hand dyed. I purchased it from you several years ago. It is a wonderful bright green with cats and is now the back of my favorite Halloween quilt. Every time I look at that quilt I think of both of you. Big hugs to you and your family.

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  • 55. Elizabeth Travis  |  January 4, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    Ami, I share in your wonderful memories of Beebe. I took a class from her “Dyed and Gone To Heaven”. Spent the day at her home in Southfield. My treasure is a silk scarf that I dyed with a penquin motif. It is still my favorite scarf and wear it frequently when it’s cold. I enjoyed lunch with her. She was so proud of your Memory quilt in honor of your Dad. I think she told me about every picture and other decor on the quilt.. Yes, I bought your book from her and made a quilt for my oldest brother’s 80th birthday.

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  • 56. Helen Sullivan Sini  |  January 7, 2009 at 7:00 am

    Hi Ami!
    I tried to write you last month to say how sorry I was, but technical glitches kept getting in the way and I was stealing time from a tight work deadline so eventually gave up. Let’s see if it works this time.
    Having “been there and done that”, I can tell you from personal experience that as time passes it gets easier to remember the fun and fond things about the parent with Alzheimer’s. Although we have been losing them slowly from the onset, the end somehow always seems so sudden. I have been following your efforts and have always truly admired your positiveness throughout all.
    But to respond to your practical question: you can use the stretchy fabrics anyway you like, as long as you stitch them first to a non-stretchy foundation fabric. Pair up the patches, stich in the seam allowance to fix them (or use pins) and go with it!
    Hugs,
    Helen (in Assisi)

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  • 57. Denise Taylor  |  January 9, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Hi Ami,

    More on the practical question of quilting with the stretchy fabrics: I made seven quilts out of clothing for a friend who had lost his wife to breast cancer. Most of her clothing was made of velour and all of it was made of knits. I didn’t want to hand-sew stabilizer to the velour, and I couldn’t use iron-on. All of the fabrics were heavy enough not to need permanent stabilizers. I finally came up with the idea of using Post-It Notes! Place the sticky part along the raw edge of the right side of the fabric, pin the pieces together and sew the seam. Then tear out the paper. Using a 1/4-inch seam leaves enough of the sticky part so it can be used once or twice more. I used the Super Sticky ones for the velour, but the regular Post-It Notes worked well for the other fabrics. The needle does get gummed up a bit, so has to be cleaned often.

    Thinking of you,
    Denise (in Maryland)

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