These two little guys are: 1) our son Karl, the one with the bare top, and 2) his boyhood friend, John. The photo was taken in 1968. I have an overflow of memories from those years, many fun (and some touching!) stories of all of our children. One recollection that has surfaced frequently in recent years involves Karl when he was just a bit younger than depicted above.
He and another friend were busy in the neighbor’s back yard, piling up some rocks left over from a building project—when a rock slipped and sliced into Karl’s right hand. The wound bled profusely, and required a dash to our local medical clinic. Our daughter Debbie, then eight years old, was home recuperating from a flu bug, and she held Karl on her lap in the back seat. (Obviously this was before children’s car seats were mandated. Our children simply floated around in the back seats of vehicles, with their guardian angels on duty!)
I can still picture the scene I viewed in the rear view mirror as I drove: Debbie in her pink and white quilted bathrobe, calmly holding Karl with his towel-wrapped hand pointing bolt upright in the air upon my request—in hopes of stopping the flow of blood. Karl was just as calm as his sister. We had kind of an unwritten policy when raising our children: Don’t panic, don’t get into a flap! Just do what needs to be done, as quietly and efficiently as possible!
Throughout the cleaning, stitching up, and dressing of the wound at the clinic, Karl never cried—in fact he scarcely changed the bland expression on his face. Finally, when the job was done, the doctor said, “Okay, Karl. You can go home now, but stay away from the rocks!”
At that, Karl suddenly burst into a deluge of tears and protested, “But I have to build things!”
Today, at nearly fifty years old, Karl is still “building things”—writing computer programs for his life’s work, and singing in a chorus for a leisure-time hobby.
Karl’s rock story resonates with me, as I have always been a person who “has to (ardently wants to!) build things”—a home and family for my life’s work, and more leisure-time hobbies over the years than I have time to list at the moment. Now that my body is aging and “glitching”, as many bodies do after decades of use, building something (a knitted garment, a hymn on the piano, a blog, a painting or collage, a bit of garden, a batch of soap, etc.) is more important and vital to my well being than every before.
I’m realizing that creative interests are far more than entertainment, or a way to invest our leisure. For me the creative occupations are a lifeline, a reason to keep on—a welcome and necessary diversion from whatever may be hurting physically or circumstantially!
Recently a friend, who has been blessedly healthy and pain free all of her life, discovered that she does indeed have a health issue which will need to be treated with surgery. She asked me for input—knowing that I have “been there, done that”.
In trying to encourage my friend, I mentioned the excellence of her medical resources and the fact that she would be kept as relaxed and comfortable as humanly possible during her hospital experience. I stressed the benefits of her being able to rest and recuperate at home, while her diligent family cares for her—along with her involvement in post-op therapy.
Finally I told caught myself telling my friend, “But for me the best therapy of all is making something.”
I realize that my lifestyle of “making” is not for everyone, and I pray that I didn’t come off sounding preachy to my friend! But that’s the chance we take, those of us who “have to build things“!
Margaret L. Been, ©2012