Friday, May 27, 2011


by Patty Lakinsmith

Memorial Day is a holiday where we remember and honor those who have died in the service of our country. It's a time of reflection, a time when we try to find meaning in brave sacrifice. I also find myself thinking of others who have fought and lost brave battles of a more personal nature.

Handmade items can be a deeply significant way of honoring someone, or letting them know you're thinking of them. About 4 years ago a close friend of mine was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I have a tough time expressing difficult feelings in person, especially when I am afraid. Though it can be nearly impossible for me to speak without breaking down, I can write what I feel (that I'm terrified for her, that I love her, that I wish her courage in her battle), and I can use my hands to convey what's in my heart. Suegene really liked the color blue, so I made these beads for her and wove them into a few special pieces of jewelry for her, and I was very glad to have been able to make the trip to the East Coast to give them to her while she was still alive.

When she passed away not too long after that I made this heart for her young daughter, so she could remember the vibrant soul her mother had. It helped me to think of her as I made it.

Memorial Day also finds me thinking of my father, who left this earth when he was only a few years older than I am now, from an aggressive brain tumor just like my friend, two decades before her. I wish I had been making beads back then.

I'm sure that many of you have used your special talents to reach out to people in this way. I feel blessed to have some way of expressing my feelings when words are so difficult to come by.

The Beads of Courage program is a way of using art to help children facing serious illness. Please visit their blog to see all of the wonderful ways that they are helping kids and their families.


Anonymous said...

Such a beautiful blue heart. I know it still holds a special place for your friends daughter. I have so many "extra" beads that need a new home. Thanks so much for recommending the Beads of Courage program. I'll pack them up and send them off today.

Alice said...

What a lovely tribute to your friend. And thank you for the reminder that this is a holiday to remember loved ones, and not just a long weekend to get out and play.

VanBeads said...

What a wonderful, thoughtful post, Patti. I don't know that I've ever used my craft to reach out to someone else, but I've certainly used it to comfort myself during my times of loss. When I lost my mom nearly three years ago, I naturally turned to my meditative beadweaving and glass fusing as a way to work through the hurt and loss I was feeling. It was a very difficult time, as my mom was a huge inspiration for my own work, and she was the reason I believed that I could make a living doing what I loved best.

That said, when I was recently in Colorado at the offices of Interweave Press, I got meet several people who knew my mother and were familiar with (and loved) her work as a knit and crochet designer and historian. It made me feel as though I were home, listening to people talk about her and her work, and it was another reminder of the lasting legacy that we all leave behind with our craft.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

MaCarroll Beads said...

Patty, That was a beautiful post and one that many will spend time reflecting on. Life is fragile and we should share what we have today to bring meaning to someone else's tomorrow.

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