Monday, June 13, 2011

The Memory Keeper Shawl

This shawl was started on the evening of my last post two weeks ago. In the late afternoon, I had received a phone call from the hospital where my father had been admitted in an emergency situation after passing out and falling. He had been in all kinds of testing for about six hours.

In patient and clear language the hospital psychiatrist explained that my father had been that day diagnosed with two things: pneumonia and Alzheimer's type dementia. The pneumonia would probably clear up within a few days; the dementia would only get worse.

The doctor told me things about Dad that were already known by all his children--like about his stubbornness--and she told me things that were not known--like how worried his physician had been becoming over his last several office visits. Dad had been having trouble tracking conversations with him recently.  The day before Dad had been extremely agitated and was incoherent. I know this to be true because I talked to him twice on the phone while he was in this state. I was trying to wish him a happy birthday, but he was lost in incoherent rambling and illogic. It was the first time I had heard him like this, and it was apparent that something was seriously wrong.

On the following day, the psychiatrist explained,  Dad would be declared incompetent to manage his own affairs. He would not be going home again.

After talking to her I began to look backward in time and saw there the trail of the dementia as it was being woven during the last couple years. Things we wrote off as quirkiness were, in retrospect, signs of things to come.

Trying to make sense of this and dealing with an overwhelming feeling of grief, I started this shawl. The nubs and coils of yarn upon a fragile background remind me of memory. Little remembrances of times with my father were surfacing in a cascade of vignettes. Random blips on a field of fragile time.

My father has been settled into a nursing home, and my mother is hoping her doctor will place her there soon, too. My sister is just about to return from having been home to help coordinate things, and I am going for the last part of the month.  I will be closing my shop temporarily during my trip in order to focus solely on family business and will reopen it upon my return.

I do not have a lot of words right now, but I wanted you all to know why I have not been posting as much lately.

May all your times be lovely and woven into a cloth of love.

The Memory Keeper Shawl, a one-of-a-kind work in progress.