“That’s the sacred intent of life, of God — to move us continuously toward growth, toward recovering all that was lost and orphaned within us and restoring the divine image imprinted on our soul. And rarely do significant shifts come without a sense of our being lost in dark woods, or in what T.S. Eliot called the “vacant interstellar spaces.” ~ Sue Monk Kidd
The past year has been one of significant change. I had been going along for a number of years, while the girls were in college, in a tranquil, quiet, albeit boring place. My creativity had waned, I wasn’t interested in much of anything. We were spending a large amount of our time on our little restoration project at Fort Pelham Farm, indoors and out. Nothing so large to overwhelm me, but physical problems are challenges to be figured out and fixed. The emotional things you can just sit on, keep them in the back of your mind or buried deep.
A little over a year ago my father had a slight stroke. He was living alone in the house at the time, unable to go up and down the stairs. The heat was always turned too high and he obsessed over the smallest things. We had talked about moving him into Assisted Living but there wasn’t ever a time when you could bring it up. The stroke solved many problems, mostly dealing with his safety. He worked through what he had lost and is living comfortably in a facility near our shop in Enfield.
I had worked in long term care off and on for many years but it wasn’t until I had to move him into a facility that I struggled with the idea of a sense of place. I was horrified at the thought that the day may come when someone moves me away from Rowe for my safety.
In working through what can only be seen as a grieving process I began taking classes in crafts that I had never done before. Sara Burghoff spent a weekend teaching me how to hook rugs. It was amazing and I was off and running. Other people see me as being a little obsessive in crafting. I like things that are quiet, meditative. Using my hands helps me to think. I did a lot of thinking, working things out. I bought a loom from a friend that was moving and discovered weaving to be everything a craft needs to be for me right now. It requires a mechanical way of thinking to design and set up a project but once you are going it is a quiet meditation.
I began to search for old friends only to find that the ones I most wanted to talk to had died – sad, but you have to know that this was not unexpected in some sense. The people we don’t see we tend to hold in a sort of stasis, they never change in our minds. When you are reunited you are shocked at how old they are (not realizing that you’ve aged right along with them). I continued to weave and started to blog in earnest.
Writing is something I have always done. It helps me to know myself. Putting it out in public is different but the main reason I did it was as a record of where I was in time and place. I did it for my kids, I wanted them to have a little insight into who I am. At times there are such intensely personal things going on in my life that the thought of writing about it is immobilizing and yet the act of doing it sets me free.
In March of this year I was reunited with a son that I gave up for adoption 41 years ago. I really haven’t written about it because this has been one of the most difficult things to work out in my head. I also didn’t want to jinx it in any way – seems funny but it’s true. S is an amazing, kind man. It’s good to see genetics at work and at the same time to see what a wonderful person he turned into under the guidance of his adoptive family.
This has put me on quite a different path spiritually than I ever expected. Things happened for a reason I’m convinced. The timing has been preordained I’m sure. It sounds cliche but I am convinced more than ever that things happen for a reason and these situations have put me in a position to examine my entire life.
Difficult situations expand my creativity. I’ve come to understand at least a little bit the tortured, creative mind. I do my best work, whether it is photography, weaving, writing, anything, when I’m on the edge. There are positives that can be seen in every difficult situation and these difficult times help a person to grow.
I’ve done genealogy for years and always found people’s personal stories fascinating. I’ve pieced together lives from notes, receipts, photographs and census records. I always wished someone had written their story down. My girls have asked over the years why I never really talked about my story. How it was when I was growing up. I think I always assumed they learned it from other family members. When S and I were reunited I realized that the biggest story of my life was something I had never talked about.
I am fortunate to have a total sense of place. Most anything of consequence has happened in Rowe for me. If it had happened somewhere else, Rowe was always the retreat. A door has been opened now that will allow a true introspective look at the last 57 years and my hope is that I can commit it to paper.