Sharing Our Passion (Part I)

Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day; teach a man to fish,
and he’ll feed himself for the rest of his life.

Chinese Buddhist Proverb

One of the most beautiful and significant aspects of our program was the gifting of our handmade items to our family, friends, and many people we never met, through the generations. A major component of Judaism is the passing of traditions L’dorVa’dor (from generation to generation) to keep them alive. These photos show my Daughter-in-Love, Carli and grandson with the gifts I made them.

Another key feature of our program was teaching our skills to future generations. I’d like to share a story about Rose, one of our Healing Ambassadors. At the time of this story, she was in her mid-eighties, but still eager to remain purposeful. 

As a cancer survivor herself, she found visiting the oncology patients especially meaningful and felt an immediate affinity with them. On this day, Rose and I entered the room of a young woman, Liz, whom we could see from her downcast demeanor was feeling very depressed. As we showed her the handmade items on the cart, she perked up a bit and chose an afghan in shades of soft moss green, perfect with her green eyes and auburn hair. As she wrapped it around her shoulders, she was transformed. Her face lit with a beautiful smile, and her eyes sparkled.

She expressed her interest in learning to knit to be able to make a sweater for her new puppy, and to create gifts for her parents. Rose, who had been taught to knit when she was twelve by her Aunt Jen, immediately offered to teach Liz the basics. We didn’t carry knitting supplies on the cart, so I offered to get them from my office while Rose and Liz visited. When I returned, they went to work industriously.

I continued visiting the rest of our patients, and then stopped at Liz’s room to check on their progress. They sat close together as Rose taught Liz to cast on and start knitting. As she looked up, a huge smile spread across the young woman’sface. Her depression had vanished, replaced by feelings of purpose and the joy of learning a new skill. What an unexpected experience in a hospital setting.

Rose’s spirits were uplifted as well, her pleasure apparent on her countenance. 

“This work is what gives my life purpose and meaning, she said. “Being a participant in this program has made a huge positive impact in my life.”

This third photo shows my daughter, Shayna and Son-in-Love, Martin this summer, sharing a loving embrace. They are also wrapped in one of my sweet Mother-in-Love’s, Sylvia’s (Shayna’s grandmother’s) beautiful creations. She was a superb knitter who passed away in 1999. But prior to her death, she taught Shayna to knit. Her creations endure and continue to be enjoyed by our whole family.

(See next week’s blog for photos of the beautiful project Shayna is currently creating for her father).

Many of our American Sewing Guild members have also taught their daughters and granddaughters their many sewing skills. Often, when we conducted our Fall “Sew-In” at St Mary, their families would also come to help sew items for our patients, stuff neck roll pillows and hand-sew them closed. 

Not to worry if you don’t knit, crochet, or sew. I recently taught my 8- and 14-year-old grandsons how to tie fleece blankets. They selected the pattern they liked, (avocados…of course!?) and we had fun making it. I’ll include details on this project as I continue this theme next week, and share more of the beautiful, meaningful ways our crafters have passed their talents, generation to generation, sharing their crafting passions.