Sunday, August 10, 2014

Embedded memories and the unexpected importance of dating your needlework

Does anyone else mark events in their lives by their projects? I don't mean wedding or birth samplers that are made to especially commemorate a life event, but works that accidentally record important facts simply because of when they were made? In general, my projects remind me of what was going on in my life when I made them and help me recall things I might otherwise forget, but I have one piece that is an essential historical document for me.

My life was in a lot of turmoil at the time I stitched this little rose. I was in the middle of a divorce, in between apartments and looking for a new job. At the same time, from out of the blue I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. It was a lot to take in all at once and as a defense mechanism, part of my brain just refused to remember whats and wheres and whens around that time. Stitching was my therapy, and when I finished this little piece, I stitched the date into it.

As a result, every time I go see a new doctor, I look at my cross stitch before leaving the house so that I'm prepared to answer basic questions, like when did I have my first MS symptoms and how long have I been on such and such a medication. I remember my general disease chronology, but I can't for the life of me remember the starting date without my cross stitch. And thank goodness the picture is so pretty. It never makes me feel bad remembering that time when I look at it, just happy because I really enjoyed the stitching.

No one would guess by looking at it how important my rose is to me and my memory. I didn't foresee its importance at the time I stitched it either, but because I never actually wrote about the things that were happening at that time, it is my only path to those memories. Some day I may write it all down, but honestly looking at this pretty stitched flower, is a lot more soothing than words could ever be and it has worked just fine as a personnel record up till now.

People always say that it is important to initial and date your needlework for posterity. But sometimes the act of dating a piece turns out to be more important for us than it could ever be for our heirs.


1 comment:

  1. I did not know you have MS I am sorry, do hope it is being kept under control with medication. As you say we should date things, afraid I have not done on lots of my things but do not think they will become family heirlooms. I do have 2 pieces done by relatives one dated 1825 which is a sampler and another 1824 which is made with human hair but no name on it.