Our family is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Karen left home to join the Marines when she was 18 and never looked back. She traveled extensively, finally settling in San Diego. She’s happy there, and when you go through such a life altering event as she did, home seems so far away.
This is when you find out who your family and friends are, you find out about willing warriors, the ones willing to stick with you during the thick of it.
Karen’s friend, Thomasina, rose to the occasion, let me tell you. She attended every pre-operation doctor visit to help Karen listen to doctor’s instructions, was there for the operations and post-op check-ups, as well as just being there for Karen at home and during her recovery.
I noticed when I was there, the effect Buttons had on Karen. Buttons is Thomasina’s puppy and when Thomasina and Buttons visited, Karen’s spirits soared. She smiled, got on the floor with Buttons and generally enjoyed herself that day. She and I talked about the fact that maybe a puppy would be good for her too. We visited a shelter and she continued to visit shelter websites after my visit was complete.
One day Karen called to tell me about Cookie, the shelter dog she had adopted. What a difference Cookie has made in Karen’s life. Cookie is funny, smart and protective, the kind of puppy you think you have known all your life. She just fits in!
What do you do when you are so far away from a loved one, how do you continue those moments of love and healing. Karen and I talk frequently. She plays upright bass, bass guitar and rhythm guitar. So we talk about music and our family ties to stringed instruments. My paternal grandfather, Boyce Richardson, (who I never met, he died before I was born) played guitar, and his brother-in-law, my great uncle, Jim Bennett, played upright bass. Uncle Jim Bennett was an entrepreneur and died during a shoot-out with Revenuers as he protected his still and other investments, with his silver 45, down there in Spartanburg, South Carolina. We know they are pleased, from heaven, about our love of music and stringed instruments.
But still, I wanted to do something else. I wanted to keep my energy in Karen’s life, from Pittsburgh all the way to San Diego. Then it hit me. I’ll make quilts, one for Cookie and one for Buttons. That way, as I thank Karen for her strength, and thank Thomasina for her friendship, the sentiment has a tangible component.