Monday, March 24, 2008

In Memoriam

Dorothy Campbell -- 1912 to 2008

My grandmother passed away on Saturday evening after a six-week struggle with a broken pelvis and two bouts of pneumonia, plus several other issues that had been going on for some time. My father and I were with her when she left, and it was a very peaceful passing, which was a blessing. As my dad put it, "she just stopped." We will miss her so, so much, but it is a joy to know that we will see her again someday, and she completely deserves this rest after 95 years of serving others and, well, working all the time to keep her house (and, later, her little part of my parents' house) clean!

So, just briefly, I want to honor her here by telling you all -- because few of you, if any, knew her -- what a really special, terrific lady she was. She wasn't Mother Theresa, she wasn't Billy Graham, but she lived her life in service to God by serving those she loved, and those whom God placed in her neighborhood, and that, in every way, is just as important:

Granny grew up in East Texas, and, of course back then things weren't as cushy as they are today. I remember her telling me she used to play out by the "crick" (creek) with her younger sister, and she (Granny) was a tree-climber. She wasn't afraid of much, either, and was sometimes the only one who could get the farm horses to behave themselves! When she was in her teens her mother developed breast cancer, and Granny had to help her father take care of her. Granny didn't realize it, but this would be a recurring theme in her life.

She had two children, only one of whom survived to birth, my mother. She and my mom were complete opposites in so many ways -- Granny was down to earth, practical, pretty unsentimental, and Mom lived in a world of make-believe when she was little, and is extremely sentimental. But that didn't stop them from being the best of friends. In fact, in the last eighteen years or so, since Granny moved in with my parents, I would say that she and Mom were more like sisters, definitely best friends. Their bond was so close it was just fun to be around them. That didn't mean they didn't have their spats, but they could never stay mad at each other for long.

When my grandfather -- who was ten years older -- had colon surgery in his sixties and ended up with a colostomy that had to be cleaned every day, Granny took that job on with love and dedication like only she could. She tended him every day for fifteen years, and took on the additional stress of helping him through the colon cancer that finally took his life. To her it was a privilege, a way of serving her husband and her Lord. Not that there weren't moments of despair and exhaustion, but after spending some time with her Lord, with His refreshing and grace, she rolled up her sleeves and went right back to work with the same love and compassion as ever.

Even in these later years she helped my mother, who has several chronic health issues, in many ways, both large and small. She knew how to do the little things that made life more than just "getting through the day" for Mom. She loved to watch the Spurs play basketball, she enjoyed watching Charles Stanley's sermons each week for her spiritual boost, she kept in touch with her church in Lamesa, Texas, contributed to it and to the Methodist Children's Home regularly, made it a habit to talk to friends and family on the telephone as often as possible and kept up with the world through national news media, the Lamesa Press Reporter and the Deport Times.

Granny was a prayer-warrior. She faithfully prayed for her whole family, from her daughter and son-in-law (who loved her like a second mother), to her three grandchildren and their spouses, five great-grands and two great-great grands, as well as her other relatives, friends and even strangers whose needs were brought to her attention. She loved all of us unconditionally, even when we made colossal mistakes in our lives. She was incredibly humble, and never could understand it when people would talk about how wonderful she was (she would hate this tribute!). She read her Bible daily, and she lived her walk rather than simply talking it.

She was feisty, strong in spirit and will, tough, determined and you definitely did not want to question her when she knew what was right (because she WAS right!) or what needed to be done. She wasn't a "mushy" type of grandma -- she wasn't afraid to discipline us if we got out of line! But she was infinitely loving, compassionate and opened her heart to her family, friends and neighbors, to the needy, even extending that care to whatever wounded or hungry animals might come her way. She, as the saying goes, was Jesus in so many ways to all those in her sphere of influence.

So, as cliched as all this may sound, the world has definitely been diminished by her loss. But I think all of us who were blessed to grow up with her, or to be her friends, all who spent time with her couldn't help but be infused with some of her strength, her wit, her common sense, and most of all her caring and her attitude of service. Quiet, un-self-seeking service was what Dorothy Campbell was all about. As Mother Theresa said, which so aptly describes my Granny: "We are not all called upon to do great things, but we are all called upon to do small things with great love."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Magic Pattern Birthday

Well, I spent a good chunk of the day today at the hospital helping "Granny-sit" with my oldest brother and my mom. She doesn't really need that many people, but I had to drive my brother up there (he flew out from Dallas and doesn't have a car), and my Mom wasn't ready to leave her. Dad had to go car-shopping, since he hit a deer a few weeks ago and the insurance decided to go ahead and total it out, so there were three of us in the room with her!

So, anyway, here is the card I eventually came up with for my customer to give her daughter. I kinda wanted to try making another one so I could choose between them, but I am SOOOOO exhausted there's just no way it's gonna happen tonight. I'm not even sure I'm gonna be able to sing in the Easter service this year. The rehearsal is tomorrow night, and I can't imagine spending hours at the hospital and having anything left to give for rehearsal.

Oh, yeah, the card! Well, the technique is another TJ one called Magic Pattern, very simple to do just involves watercoloring and embossing. The flower stamp is a hostess stamp from SU's current catalog. I used the "En Francais" background, too. The "Happy Birthday" is from The Stampsmith, and I embossed it with Iridescent Ice (isn't that the SU glitter that's EP?), but it doesn't show up very sparkly on the scan. It's a 5"x7" card.

I am so danged tired! There is so much stress going on about my grandmother's situation. She had a very rough night with breathing issues last night, and my parents (who stayed overnight with her) said there were a couple of times when they really thought they were going to lose her. The doctors just leave so many of the decisions to the family, and they're often very tough calls to make, so we're all just worn out and don't know when there will be any relief. But God is keeping us sane, giving us all strength and helping us in so many amazing ways. I know that whatever way this turns out, He is in control and it's best for Granny. I just want her to be at peace and comfortable, not having to suffer like she is now.

Anyway, gotta get my mind on something else now. It'll be bedtime soon and I want to go straight to bed, but I'm in the middle of doing the laundry that didn't get done earlier because I was at the hospital! Maybe I'll get a chance to stamp tomorrow ...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Creativity in Chaos

Well, despite the enormous amount of confusion and chaos my grandmother's situation has engendered in my family (especially in my brain), I managed to get some cards done over the past week or so. Ironically, it's been tougher to find time to post them than it has been to make them!

So first, the cards:

This first one I made for my customer who scraps but doesn't make cards and who occasionally commissions me to make cards for her. It's supposed to be a birthday card. Except that after I made the card I realized that it was supposed to be for her DAUGHTER, not a friend, and the word "friend" on this card is stuck for life, so I gave up and decided to make a different one for her daughter.

ANYway, this card uses a couple of TJ techniques -- the panel on the left is "Silken Mist", to which I added a spritz of Gold Shimmer Mist (this is a "Tattered Angels" product, really beautiful!). The flowers -- from the SU "Occasions" mini catalog which is currently, um, current -- were done with a tech I can't remember the name of (I'm too lazy to run upstairs and look through my TJ newsletters), but it involves dye reinkers, embossing and Lumiere. The patterned paper is a couple of years old and retired SU. I made the embossed scallops on the Pale Plum strip using a ... I can get the words out, I can do it ... M-M-Martha Stewart punch. (Whew, that was hard to say/admit to!) BTW, this card was done using Mary Jo's last week's Monday Lunch Challenge (#8). Her #9 sketch is up this week at her TechnoStamper blog.

This second card I just did for fun. It's a Mojo Challenge card (from Julee Tillman's "Poetic Artistry" blog -- another fun blog with lots of good ideas). I think it was last week's challenge. The top panel is the other half of the Silken Mist w/ Gold Shimmer Spray background I made for the above card. The bottom is a TJ tech background I made awhile back, and even though I wrote on the back what it was, I glued it on the card before I copied it down! (Stress, I'm tellin' ya, makes you do dumb things!) I do know that I added the gold webbing spray just for kicks, it wasn't part of the tech. Whatever. The stamps are both SU, one is the En Francais background set, and the other is a retired set. The hydrangea uses the TJ Penciled Twinks tech. The embossed punch on the half-circles was done using a Fiskars corner punch and then just using a circle punch to make it round instead of a corner. I did realize in trying to make this oval come out right, even with a Creative Memories oval cutting system, that I totally need to save up for a few Nestabilities sets. I can screw up even the most perfectly usable cutting systems! I totally need things that just PUNCH OUT. Anyway, the gold strip is just that, gold shimmer paper. That's also behind the Elegant Eggplant rectangle in the middle.

Well, that's all I'll post for today. I've got two new sketches to play with for this week, so I hope I'll have time to do them. I did make two other cards, one for the little girl we sponsor through Compassion International (her birthday is at the end of next month, so I just hope she gets it in time!!) and the other is the birthday card I will be replacing the "friend" card with.

I have no idea how my grandmother is doing. One day I'll think she's getting ready to go Home to be with Jesus and my granddaddy, and the next I think she might just rally and come home (little h) to Mom and Dad's house again. She has at least three doctors who are all on slightly different pages, so we're kept in a constant state of confusion. My oldest brother is doing such a great job of taking care of her that I feel a bit redundant when I go up to see her. She's glad to have me up there, though, just to have me "there". My emotions are so on a knife edge it's ridiculous. So I'm really glad I've got God, crafting and writing! I think I'd go crazy without them!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

St. Patrick's Day birthday card, and other stuff

If you're not interested in my personal life, scroll down to the card stuff ...

I have strep throat! I can’t believe it!! I don’t even remember the last time I had Actual Strep Throat, but I do know it was eons ago, long before I hit my 40s, maybe not even in my 30s. Aidan gets strep, not me. Very weird. Just shows you what hanging out at a hospital will do for ya. The worst part about this is that I have now had to bail on my parents as a Granny-sitter, pretty much leaving the whole duty in my dad’s already overburdened lap. My aunt (his sister) arrived from Houston today to help out, so I’m hoping that will give him a much-needed boost. Mom is still sick with her throat thing (she doesn’t think she had strep, so she doesn’t think she gave it to me). I think she’s mostly just flat-out exhausted at this point, so it’s taking her a very long time to get over it.

Plus my poor dad now has to deal with buying a new car. He hit a deer one night last week on his way home from the hospital (he’s okay, fortunately, no harm done to him except a little temporary hearing loss from the air bags deploying). The car repair folks originally said they could fix the damage, but now they’re saying they’ll probably have to total the car. Yeah, they totally need this right now. Car shopping and car payments on top of everything else they’re dealing with. And the deer? After lying there playing dead for a few minutes, it got up and ran off into the woods!

Granny is going to have surgery tomorrow morning to try to fix the diverticulum sac-thingy that is in her throat and that is causing all her pneumonia problems. According to the doctor, particles of food and liquid get trapped in this thing and then randomly dump out into her trachea, basically causing her to aspirate them into her lungs. Bacteria then forms around the aspirated junk and that causes pneumonia. He said she’ll just continue to get bouts of pneumonia if they don’t invert this thing so it can’t collect any more junk (she’s too old and fragile for them to totally remove it). So she and my parents have agreed to the procedure. The doc said he’ll be super careful and try to be as safe as possible doing it (there’s a Plan A that’s fairly quick, but if it doesn’t work, they’ll have to go to a Plan B that’ll take longer), but of course at her age and level of fragility there are always risks. I hate all this. I know – we all do – that she’s got her “ticket to heaven” firmly secured, that she’s lived a long, good life, etc., etc., etc. But we aren’t ready to give her up yet, and … well, just all that stuff, and it’s just so hard and complicated and painful and … blech. Even if everything goes perfectly well, she’s been bedridden for so many days now (with a little phys therapy going on, but not every single day) that there’s the chance she may not ever really get back to the mobility she had before all this. This is NOT the way the last bit of her life should be. Granny should’ve gone out mopping! (If you knew my granny, you would get this …)

Anyway …

So, before I got sick I did manage to make a card this week! One of my good customers commissioned a St. Patrick’s Day birthday card for a friend of hers, and fortunately an idea came to me (thank You, Lord!) fairly quickly. It utilizes two TJ techniques – “Frog in a Blender” for the green background, and the whole thing is a Flip Tag Card. My “Frog …” panel is pretty subtle because I was using up the end of a “Frog wash” and so the colors were pretty blended by that time, thus it’s mostly just variations of green with a bit of yellowy-gold mixed in. I used Liquid Appliqué to make the frosting on the cake, and Stickles glitter glue for the glittery green bits. Irish blessing and shamrock stamps are from DRS Designs, and the cake and “Happy Birthday” are Stampin’ Up!

Remember, you can click on the images to see them larger.

Hopefully I'll get better soon and have some time to play with Mary Jo's latest challenge -- it being Thursday, I guess that had better happen soon! I'm two behind now, but I'm hoping to get a chance to play this weekend. I got a bunch of new stamps (mostly Scripture stamps) and finished out my collection of SU color family "Craft" (pigment ink) ink pads this week, on top of a few other items (new Cuttlebug folders, some Glimmer sprays, etc.) so I've got a lot to play with! (And nothing to retire on! Sorry, honey!)