Monday, December 27, 2010

Nancy's Craft Room

Tonight I feel as if my heart is going to break...it's after midnight of the day after Christmas and our first Northeaster of the year is roaring outside; it's too late to call anyone so I guess I'll share my feelings with you, my blog family.
As I wrote when I started this blog, my sister, Nancy, had a creative soul and her craft room was her special place. We spent many hours together down there organizing and reorganizing her boxes and bins of craft supplies, talking over a can of tab, and, sometimes, actually making things. It seems our crafting went through phases...we would get really excited about a new idea, totally obsess about it for a year or so, and then move on to a new creative passion.

There was the year of the dollhouse...make that a few years...in that time we built and decorated six dollhouses between the two of us...total obsession but great fun. We'd debate about tiny wallpaper patterns, just the right doorknobs or gingerbread trim, and on which wall the tiny mythical family would want their couch placed for viewing their miniature T.V. set. As I said...total obsession.

Then, there was the year of the birdhouses. We must have painted, distressed and decorated over fifty birdhouses that year...they were everywhere and, if you knew one of us during that time, you probably got one as a gift. Of course, these houses were never remotely intended to accommodate a family of birds; we made them to be "decorative accents" ...to impart in our homes the perfect cottage touch. Too bad for the  birds...
Another year, my friend, Sandra, introduced us to rubber stamping. I convinced Nancy that if she went along with this latest craft scheme, she could save tons of money on greeting cards. We did not factor in the money we ended up spending on classes, rubber stamps, ink, glitter, papers, embossing powders and punches. By the time were were done, we had indeed made a few cards...probably worth about $25.00 each!

Did I mention the penny rug phase? Off we went to Searsport, Windham and Oxford in search of the perfect wool, the exact colors of embroidery floss, and patterns to inspire us. We actually did complete a few penny rugs that year but they definitely cost us a lot more than a few pennies...

Which brings me to why I am sitting here blogging after midnight to heal a broken heart...For those of you who haven't been following this blog, my incredible sister, Nancy, passed away last month after a six-year battle with ovarian cancer. Today I had offered to help her husband, Aaron, sort through her craft room so that there would be room to use part of the space for family that will be visiting him over the New Year holiday. Not only am I the "big sister" (translation from Psych. 101: "the responsible one") but I helped her drag all that stuff down there, and definitely helped her create the mess, so it seemed only natural that I should help him sort through it. As I unloaded the empty boxes and bins from my car, I had no idea what an emotional task lie ahead.

On one wall of the craft room sits Nancy's old oak teacher's desk. When she retired due to illness after 34 years of teaching 3rd and 4th grades, she inherited her desk. I just don't think she could face leaving it behind. On top were her reading glasses, perched as if she had just taken them off. Inside, the trappings of her teaching career...notes and cards she had saved mixed in with the red pens and sticky notes. And in one drawer, her lanyard with her photo card hanging from it marked "Wells Elementary School 2007-08". Time for my first break...

On the walls, hung Nancy's "hats". When she faced her first round of chemo in 2005, we gave her a huge "hat party" to cheer her up...all of her friends made her funny hats to wear when she lost her hair. And there they were, saved and displayed on the walls of  her craft room.

The rubber stamps were there, too, and parts of birdhouses, and scraps of wool...all there as she had left it.

I know that her craft supplies will go to people who will use and appreciate them...I'll make sure of that...but it just makes her loss so terribly real. Oh, what I would give tonight for a few more hours with her in that little craft room...

I comfort myself with the words Nancy stenciled on her craft room wall...I now see them as her message to those of us she left behind:  "Life is just a bowl of cherries, so live and laugh at it all." That's how Nancy lived her life and, I guess, that's how she would want us to continue to live ours as well...


17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good Morning Cheryl~
I hope you got some sleep last night...but we definitely understand your broken heart. Kit was reading the blog first thing this morning, and when I woke up he wanted to read your early morning entry out loud to me. This is definitely a healing opportunity for all of us. We really enjoyed your entry. Kit remembered every single project in detail :) Thank you for sharing ... it is so wonderful to see Nancy's life being honored and remembered! Thank you Cheryl!
Love, Erin and Kit

Beverly @ My Sew Sweet Studio said...

My heart breaks for you Cheryl. What a wonderful relationship you and your sister had. I lost my sister two years ago and we weren't so close. I have spent many sad hours wishng I had made more of an effort to heal the wounds.
You will be in my prayers as you go through this.

Sewn With Grace said...

I am so sorry Cheryl! I cannot even imagine the pain that you are going through. I pray that your memories will comfort you, that the good times you shared will make you laugh, that the certainty of seeing her again one day will be a balm to your soul. I am lifting you up in prayer tonight!

Hill Country House Girl said...

Thank you so much for your visit to hill country house. I am so sorry for the loss of your sister. I understand missing someone so much that you think you can't possibly get over the pain. I wish you well during this very tough time and hope that your heart will heal and you will be able to smile when you think of the love and fun that you and she shared.You were very, very blessed to have her. Sounds like she was an amazing sister and friend. Love and comfort to you, Ann

Anonymous said...

Nancy taught us so many life lessons, many I am discovering as we deal with her loss. I read your blog about your time in her craft room and can't imagine the memories crowding your mind. Just looking at my Christmas tree I see the ornaments we created with the kids and the ones that were given as gifts. I often find myself in conversation with Nancy, hearing her laughter about a situation or giving strength and advice. I miss her but her positive attitude and "keep moving" philosophy help me to deal with life's situations. Thank you for writing the blog...... Hope you had a happy holiday with your grandchildren. Rainbows, Sherrill

Cheryl@MySistersCottage said...

To Erin, Beverly, Sewn with Grace, Ann and Sherrill,
Thank you so much for your beautiful comments on my post about Nancy's craft room...reading them means so much to me. I appreciate the comments from other bloggers whose own blogs I enjoy so much...I feel as if we are friends through far away. And Erin and Sherrill...I know you share my pain every day in the loss of Nancy.
I love receiving comments on the blog posts I write and appreciate every one...

French Hen Farm said...

Ive just come to visit your blog, and it is a lovely tribute to your sister. I feel your pain, your joys and your sorrow and your memories. My little sister and I have always done crafts together. I am so sorry for your loss. Know that she is still with you and always will be.
You will be in my prayers and thoughts
god bless
Linda

Into Vintage said...

Cheryl - I am so sorry for the loss of your sister. It sounds like the two of you made a lot of memories crafting together. I had to smile when you mentioned getting a new idea and how you'd 'totally obsess about it for a year or so.' I do that too. Wishing you much comfort and joy in the new year.

Rag-a-Muffin Collectibles said...

Cheryl, I can feel the love when I read your words about your sister. You can never replace what you had, the memories you write about will always be with you. I'm very sorry for your loss. Your blog is a wonderful compilation of your crafting time with her! Wow! And I think I might adopt how you've adopted Marilyn's Bucket List. Impressive!
I love your blog and your links. Take care. Colleen

Gidget said...

I so admire you for making a blog about your sister, I cried my eyes out reading about her craft room, that had to have been so very hard. I lost my mom a few years ago to lung cancer, she was my best friend and i still cry everyday for her, she died to young as well. I named my blog after her(lucysshabby) I'm very sorry for your loss.. Your blog is beautiful.. Gidget

Debbie@Debbie-Dabble said...

Cheryl,
My heart was breaking for you after reading this incredible post. The doll houses got me as I have a Victorian Doll house that was built for me by a wonderful man who had lung cancer and passed away a year later.
You are very lucky though to have been able to spend so much time with your sister when she was alive. look at the terrific memories you have. You will carry them in your heart forever. And through them, she will always be with you!
Hugs,
Debbie

Debbie@Debbie-Dabble said...

Cheryl,
Here is my doll house post:
http://adebbie-dabblechristmas.blogspot.com/2010/12/home-tour-victorian-doll-house.html

Hugs,
Debbie

Laura B. said...

Cheryl,
I have read this piece over and over again each time pausing, imagining you and Nancy laughing and smiling, creating away. (And in awe of your creations! Wow, you gals are talented!) Thank you for sharing such personal moments and such wonderful memories of Nancy. Each time I read your blog it sends me down my own pathways, as I'm sure it does to everyone: remembering all that is Nancy, her lessons taught, her smile, her strength,her clarity and focus upon that which she held most dear,the hysterical way she could tell a story like no other, having you on the floor within seconds, all of her. She has enveloped our hearts with her love and clearly continues to live on through each of us.

Thank you so much for this wonderful blog. It not only perfectly honors Nancy, but keeps us all connected around her and who she inspires us to be. It feels like a way where we can all begin to heal using life's - and Nancy's - most powerful tools of laughter and love.

Cheryl said...

Laura...what a beautiful comment about Nancy...thank you!

Anonymous said...

Hey, I am checking this blog using the phone and this appears to be kind of odd. Thought you'd wish to know. This is a great write-up nevertheless, did not mess that up.

- David

Cheryl said...

If this is David from the UK, Hilda's son, I am so glad that you have found the blog. Keep in touch on your Smart Phone!
Cheryl

The Twice Remembered Cottage said...

Oh, Cheryl - I am so sorry I am *just now* finding your comment on my blog regarding the dollhouses you and your dear sister built together. I searched your December archives for this post and it just really touches my heart. I am incredibly saddened that you have lost your sister and though I know the hole in your heart will never be filled by anyone else, I hope that the last few months have brought some healing time for you and your family. She was incredibly crafty, as are you, but I know that that was only a small part of her many wonderful qualities and talents. Thinking of you - and thanks so much for your kind comments and those adorable dollhouses with us - they are perfection! :)