Many of you know that I teach a 2-day workshop called, Patching, Stitching, Weaving: Creating Healing Cloth. In this workshop, we explore using basic hand stitching, applique, needle weaving and bead embroidery techniques to create a piece to offer healing for a loved one or for ourselves. This class has produced some inspiring and deep pieces. I've witnessed how working on a piece...having a tactile connection through stitching..can heal or reconcile relationships...even those with loved ones that are no longer alive. I have seen how working on a piece can bring peace and clarity of mind. I've seen pieces stitched with love as offerings to loved ones who are ill. This is powerful stuff!
I've been facilitating this process for a couple of years but have put my own healing, pertaining to my Dad's death, on hold. His last couple of years of life were very difficult for the whole family, but especially for my Mom. His cheery personality was wiped away by Parkinson's. I've found it hard to approach the topic.
At first, I thought I'd face it head on. I'd work on some pieces having to do with Parkinson's and my Dad. I could never get started...it was too difficult.
Then I remembered that I had a letter that my Dad wrote when he was very young. I poured over this letter and found that it could be a way to connect to my Dad in a different way. So I decided that I would stitch his letter as a form of self healing.
You can see that my Dad's letter is rather faded, so I enlarged it and wrote over the letters so that I could read them better. In the process, I connected to my Dad as a young boy just learning to write. I noticed the capital "B"s that were really lower case "b"s with an added curve. I fell in love with the little erasures and decided to add them into the final piece.
|I decided to include the endearing erasures in Running Stitch.|
I brought the project with me to Cape Cod. The whole family got to read the photocopy and watch me transfer it onto fabric (a handkerchief like the ones my Dad always used). It generated questions and discussion. No one really knew who "Grandma Basseches" was. We guessed at Dad's age. I developed a whole little story about the letter. Here was a tiny little slice of my Dad's life...when a cold was taken seriously and FDR was president (notice that the letterhead has Scottie dogs on it...which is ironic since my folks have owned Scotties for many years).
On the return trip home, my Mom and I stayed overnight with my Dad's cousin, Rissy. I showed her the letter and asked her if she remembered Grandma Basseches. Her 5-year-old memory of her grandmother was "a large woman with a small black dog" (it turns out that the dog's name was Fallah!..So it seems undeniable that Grandma Basseches gave the personalized stationery to my Dad!). Rissy even had a picture of her.
|My Great Grandmother Basseches.|
Stitching this little slice of family history...my Dad's history...has been so satisfying...and healing.
I'll be teaching the next Patching, Stitching, Weaving: Creating Healing Cloth workshop on September 5 & 6 at The Art League School in Alexandria, VA.