Mom always says, "never cut a knot, always untie it. If you can't figure out how to untie a knot, you'll never figure out how to solve your problems."

Monday, January 16, 2012

...and in completing herself, she completes me

mom's birth - day was saturday - january, 14 - 91  

“Do not wait for the last judgment. It comes every day.” 

“Life can be magnificent and overwhelming -- that is the whole tragedy. Without beauty, love, or danger it would almost be easy to live. ” 

I finished "LEFT," as I wanted, before the stroke of midnight 2011/2012.  So since I wanted to post the final version and mom's birthday was close to the finish date, and they are related, I'm posting the completed cloth here. 

Front view

 “Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
Back view

“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”  

top details

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” 

bottom detail
“Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.”  

The following image is the central part of the cloth, the part most important to me.  That is where the story began:

“Blessed are the hearts that can bend; they shall never be broken.” 

The story of the cloth and title, "LEFT," have a lot if not all to do with my mother and her illness.  It also refers to my sister.  

Left can mean many things.  It can be opposite of right.  It can be the past participle of leave, as in go away, gone.  Or it can mean staying  behind.  All but the first definition applies to this piece.  My sister left when she got married - and is rarely present.  My mother ages and changes and forgets and returns and leaves everyday.  Her memory is part of the past participle.  The figure on the right, the only singular figure that is completely stitched is the person that remains or perhaps memory.  The other two figure, what could  be an adult with a child, or a female figure with a younger person (my sister is two years older.) If you look at the figures moving "left" you can see them migrating out of the frame, eventually becoming a shadow, a memory.  Something that might peak from around the corner, depend on the light, the time of day, or the presence/absence of the person.  

Also, where the two figures in the center are standing, is the only place that remains unstitched. There are a few other rectangles placed around the figures - also not stitched.  Those are the voids from where we might emerge, get lost in, lose our memories, and who knows, maybe where we might meet again. 

It was a hard piece for me to deal with and think about...also the one that took the longest to complete.  For some reason completing that last stitch, like O'Henry's leaf...

There are many many stitches  here.  Call it Kantha if you want, running if you like, or just walking, as Jude calls it.  Either way, the cloth has a soft feel.  Very much like my mother's touch. 

And finally on a cheerful note:

I wrote a comment on Velma's blog which prompted a reply from her that gave me an idea.  These were the flowers that were popping up on mom's back yard lawn before the snow came.  Mom loved watching them out her window - she noted them everyday and after regretted they were covered.  Velma suggested I pick them and dye with them.  Well, I pound the dandelions on cloth and pressed the pansies. I will use them to make a little stitched bouquet for mom for her valentine.  

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."  And this Winter, until it started to be Winter, maybe we had a third spring as well.

“I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain. One always finds one's burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself, forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” 
― Albert Camus 

The quotes above are attributed to Albert Camus.  Don't ask where they are from...the bad librarian didn't keep her citations for these, she just, "made notes for a short story," dear Chekhov. 


  1. your leaf piece and its story are magnificent. loved your description of what it represents. hope your mom had a pleasant birthday.
    i have some flowers in the freezer that my sister saved for me. using them for valentines is a great idea.

    1. hi deanna...replying off my blog - all of a sudden there appeared a reply button! mysterious these computers...

  2. well, ani... as i sit here and gaze and gaze; scroll up, then down, waiting for a feeling of what 'left' shows me, i decide that camus' words below are what i feel.

    He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself, forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart.

    one comes full circle through all that life is and realizes that no matter what, all is well... yes, i think this is what 'left' says to me. this cloth feels almost sacred to me. something to touch with great respect and gentleness...

    i send your mother love and wishes for a peaceful 91st year...



    1. it's a small circle we stitch but it is always filled with love - our little world of joys and sorrows fits well into the palm of a hand...

  3. The cloth that you have caressed so lovingly with zillions of stitches has allowed you much time to think. It seems to me that you are more connected to your heart now because of your hand.
    Beautiful. Loving.

    1. Judy,
      thank you for your wonderful thoughts. yes hand to heart, but from my mothers hands first.

  4. Happy Birthday to you mom with the soft hands and touch. She has passed that gift on to you which you so generously share with us.

    1. so many gifts our mothers give us are unseen, this was very clear - love

  5. Beautifully stitched and beautifully written. Your words illuminate and illustrate the cloth in a wonderfully moving way.

    1. thank you karen - words are easy when you love what you write about - yes.

  6. it is a beautiful piece and i like how you included the feel of the cloth in the story. very nice. how big is it i wonder?

  7. it's really small...only about 9x12. someday i'll work bigger - working my way to that point. this cloth though was a good size for me and for the subject. thank you for stopping by.

  8. This is an amazing cloth. There is so much meaning in these stitches. I'm really relating to your cloth, I am also the primary caregiver for my Mom who has Alzheimers. Please email me if you ever want to chat or just for support talulahlynn@earthlink.net Blessings, jenni-lynn

  9. Henrietta, thank you for such a comprehensive writing of the meaning to this cloth of love. For as many stitches as there are, the love shines even more. I chuckled to myself though when the one meaning of 'left' seemed to be the one that jumped out to me first thing. The top left corner that says 'left' has what was to me a bold black arrow pointing the way out. I don't know if you intended that or not. Or maybe it is the exit your sister uses, as it is marked so clearly. At any rate, this is such a heartfelt piece. Thank you so much for sharing it in this post.

    1. the thought that came to me was "exit stage left" but I watched too many cartoons when I was young...

  10. Meant to include this one that I have saved:

    Great ideas, it has been said,
    come into the world as gently as doves.
    Perhaps then, if we listen attentively, we shall hear,
    amid the uproar of empires and nations,
    a faint flutter of wings, the gentle stirring of life and hope.
    Some will say that this hope lies in a nation;
    others, in a man.
    I believe rather that it is awakened, revived,
    nourished by millions of solitary individuals
    whose deeds and works every day
    negate frontiers and the crudest implications of history.
    As a result, there shines forth fleetingly
    the ever-threatened truth
    that each and every man,
    on the foundation of his own sufferings and joys,
    builds for all.

    -Albert Camus

  11. you've realized a great sadness in this piece. beautifully made, moving.

  12. This is a Soul Cloth for sure. For you have inter my own soul from it's tomb and it speaks volumes.
    Very powerful work of art.

    Thank you for sharing.

  13. all about knowing some of Life, i think.
    and how do we know ourselves within this
    knowing of the Life we observe,
    and what do we give ourselves, to feed all
    this Seeing and Loving and Knowing

  14. What a lovely post to have found here at your blog. So poignant and affecting.
    the central image and words...
    thank you!

  15. These are such dear sentiments, Henrietta. I can but only hope that my own hands will last me this long...bless your mom for such wondrous fortitude.

  16. How wonderful! As Judy commented you have time to think while stitching and I'm sure in years to come you will remember many of your every-day musings since they are stitched in with the story of the cloth. Happy 91st Birthday to your dear mom.

  17. I just popped over from ALAW to look at your Blog. LEFT is such a beautiful delicate piece and lovingly stitched. It stands alone without explanation but having the meaning of the marks/stitches you makes it truly stunning.
    Best Wishes to your Mom.

    1. hello back to you. thank you stopping by for a view of my blog. Yes, mom and LeFT have a special place in my heart.


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