Sunday, June 17, 2012

Blue Window

Sometimes an ordinary week really isn't so. Small events can be more than they seem.  Blue Window is the book-of-the week and it also signifies this phenomenon.
   The story begins more than a month ago in my class, "The Perfect Book." I had pushed my students to add content to their pages.. to make their own decorated pastepapers, to consider adding words, poetry, drawings, musings, collage... anything to move past the empty blank pages of uniformity and share themselves in the books. I told my students a "perfect book" is not empty. A "perfect book" is not even really perfect. One student, Kirsten, who had always made lovely blank journals struggled with the idea of content and wrecking her perfect book with words and mark making. During that time she also missed a class due to the illness and passing of her beloved grandmother. But she returned and after a couple weeks we finished our flat back "perfect books."

   On the last day of class, Kirsten told us of her grandmother's last few days.. as the family gathered around her bed, the Hospice nurses had been called in to help, and her grandmother was feeling well enough to tell stories of her life. As Kirsten sat beside her grandmother listening to the stories, a relative said someone should be recording all of the stories and my student jumped up to go find a writing pad somewhere in the house. As she rushed around looking she saw one of the lovely blank journals she had made several years ago and given to her grandmother. She grabbed it. For the next few days the family all took turns recording and writing their grandmother's stories in the beautiful handmade book.

   When Kirsten told us this story, (after we all stopped crying) she said she imagined our group of bookmakers making handmade books to donate to the local Hospice organization. I really liked the idea.. but nothing happened for a few weeks.  I retold the story in my next series of classes which was attended by a wonderful book artist, Cheryl, who is also a nurse. She too was intrigued by the idea of making books to donate to Hospice and told the Hospice representative at the medical center where she works. Cheryl showed the Hospice representative some of her handmade books. The Hospice representative was REALLY excited about the idea!! So the two of them came up with a plan. They set a number of twenty books we would work on and donate to the local Hospice facility; which would show all of the books available to the clients and they would choose their book. Finally I got to do something... I sent an email to all my book artist friends and this Saturday (yesterday) nine of them came to my house and we finished all twenty books.
Six of the Books for Hospice
There's something heroic about giving... something about doing for others... helping... reaching out and caring when someone is in need. I believe the nurses, doctors, administrators, volunteers and others who work at Hospice are a holy group. Because when it's Hospice it's about nearing death, fighting pain and fear, maybe regret, surely sadness and always loss. But there is also bravery, faith, hope, and love. And memories and stories. So, to have our handmade books used to record the final days and life stories of beloved family members and friends is an honor.

The Blue Window is a book about seeing into another place.. either ahead or behind... and making note of what is important. This week was important. This week has somehow been more than it seemed at the time...
Last page of Blue Window