Of Tears and Smiles of Joy

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Photo courtesy freestocks.org on Pexels.com

Although I am normally of a cheerful spirit and am always trying to provide inspiration for others, today is a truly difficult day.

I have been working with physically/developmentally/emotionally challenged children and adults perhaps since the 1970’s when my younger brother came home from Vietnam, 100% disabled with a TBI, a spinal injury, and permanent PTSD.  It gave me the heart for this work and I have done it ever since.

It has been a good journey, and I am glad that sometimes in the face of tragedy, we are led to do things to help our communities and to help others who are going through challenges.

Yesterday morning very early, I got a call from one of my best friends who helped me to create and run our tiny, but successful nonprofit for some 15 years, providing exposure and professional development for physically challenged artists. Barbara Williamson is a paraplegic lady I met more than 15 years ago when she was looking for help to become a professional with her own business selling her fiber arts work.  It was natural that we came together to do the work we did with virtually no money for all these years.

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Barbara Williamson, “Buddha’s Garden,”

one of three pieces left because they are in an exhibit in another town

Barbara was shot point blank by a felon when she was in her mid 20’s; the bullet missing her heart by one inch, and leaving her permanently physically challenged.  She was approximately four months pregnant at the time, and miraculously, the baby was born early, but survived, so today she is a mother and grandmother.  All these years, Barbara has been a productive fiber artist, a writer, and she has contributed so many things for her community and for others in need.

The phone call was short; she, her caregiver, and her dog had to evacuate their town.  There was a huge fire coming up the mountain in the valley below her home.  As we tried to hear the news throughout the day yesterday and today, we heard that the hospital has been destroyed (all patients evacuated) two blocks from her home and the fire is blazing through the entire town.  My friend is presumably safe for they got out early, but all of her artwork and her sewing machine and everything else had to be left behind.  This is some 15+ years of art quilts that have been in many exhibits including international ones, and which we were preparing to sell on a website we were creating for her.

But they were more than just that.  They were the reason she has survived cancer, a burst artery, a stroke, and any number of other physical challenges through these many years.  There are tears in my eyes, but there is joy in my heart, for what is taken from us today will live on in our memories over the many years.  Perhaps I have impacted her life in a positive way, but she has brought so much more to mine.

 

 

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7 thoughts on “Of Tears and Smiles of Joy

  1. The value in the quilts is still there. It was in the doing of them and the relationship with others stitched together and in the love she found in someone like you. Someone needs to set her up a “go fund me” with her/your story. The art cannot be replaced, no. But the love will come to her!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi from Anne, I am so sorry that I have been so slow to respond. I have not been well at all. Her granddaughter’s mother set up a Go fund me account. And I have been trying, between bouts of dizziness, falling down and other things to get her a web site set up to give her something to look forward to. Some lady is going to give her a sewing machine when she gets a home again, and I will give her some of my fabric from my lifetime stash, so she is going to start making the kind of quilts she used to make before. There is a lady who created and runs a really nice museum in New York, and she wants Barb to have a professional looking site and then she will help promote her work, so she had three pieces that did not get ruined because they were in an exhibit in another town and they are holding them until she has a permanent address. Thank you so very kindly. She will have enough soon to perhaps get at least a tiny house out in an open area outside a city. Hugs and blessings, Anne

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so kindly. Barb is safe and money is coming in to keep her in a motel for now and to hopefully find another home soon. You too, Jennifer. Gosh, I notice how much you look like my daughter. She was born in 1960 though, and lives in another part of the country, so I have not seen her for a long time, though we keep in touch, but she DID look like you. Hugs and blessings, Anne

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am so very, very glad she is safe. And that’s always very striking and fascinating when you find a look-alike to someone close to you. I’m sorry you haven’t been able to see your daughter in a while. The richest of blessings to you too, Anne! 🤗❤️

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