Friday, March 30, 2018

The Lighthouse on the Sky Blue Cloth

I have a few pieces of writing that I revisit from time to time wondering if there is a way to make them better. I'll make a change here and there, and the writing emerges with new language and new insights into my memories. The pieces have been revised over many years. I am never sure when they will be finished. So in the last few days of Slice of Life 2018, I plan to share some of these with hopes that they will go out into the world.

Posted on 3/29 - "The Cottage" 

Today's piece of writing:

The Lighthouse on the Sky Blue Cloth

Before me is a scene so carefully stitched - a cross stitch of the Lorain Lighthouse on a sky blue cloth. The lighthouse stands there proudly surrounded by cracked stone and bluegreen water. My tiny stitches created a picture that was pressed and placed within a carefully chosen frame. I hung it on its special place on the wall. I had hung it there so many times in my mind as I worked the colorful threads through the cloth. Before me it hangs, finished at last.

My work on this cross stitch has given me the time to stop and think, reflect, plan and dream - a luxury I don't often allow myself. As I added each colorful stitch to the cloth, I watched my work grow. I've spent eleven months creating this lighthouse on my cloth. There were days I was sure I would never see the finished piece. Now that the last stitch was finally in its place and I so proudly stitched my name and the year, I realized that for me, this picture was not one of a lighthouse with seagulls soaring about its peaks and waves crashing at its cornerstone. Each stitch was a part of me. It was a collection of moments in time. It was bits and pieces of me and those I love. In each stitch, I could recall my reflections, my plans, my dreams and my answers found.

The stitches in that window there - each one added through a long night when I stayed awake and waited for my daughter's fever to run its course - a night that seemed so endless. There finally came a sleeping child who felt cool to my touch. I laid my word aside for another time and took one last reassuring look at that angelic face on the pillow.

The grey stitches of the lighthouse's foundation urged me to think about how fast my son was growing. I hoped he would grow up to be strong and able to reach for his goals with an intensity that would not be easily torn down. 

Every tiny rust-colored stitch in the roof of the lighthouse brings to mind the night Dave and I had an argument - about what, I am no longer sure - each stitch a painful thought of harsh words that should never have been uttered. Each stitch reminds me of the strained voices screaming words that hurt. It was so unlike the two of us. With each stitch I longed for that forgiving hug and the reassurance that everything would be fine. We loved each other and the strength of our love would be endless just like the lighthouse that has stood firmly for so many years.

I spent so many hours and sleepless nights worrying about a student in my class that year. Over and over in my mind, I tried each way I knew to reach the boy, who in his own silent way desperately called out for help. Furiously working, I built the lighthouse with each stitch strengthening my conviction that somehow I must help this child. Each time I put my work to rest, I knew I could approach the new day with a plan. Maybe this time our eyes would meet, our hearts would connect and a child would smile.

Those pounding waves near the bottom - I remember with each stitch, I worried about a decision that had to be made. Our dog had grown old and sickly and soon we had to face the decision to put her to sleep. Could we do what had to be done? Would we have the courage to say goodbye to one who had been a part of our lives for so long? When we decided to end her pain, I remember our goodbyes and that last hug. When all was done, the stitching seemed to fill those empty moments when I expected her to bark and only silence came.

So many stitches, especially those of the seagulls flying freely near the roof, were worked with dreams and plans for the ones I love. My children were growing up so quickly. Each stitch was a promise to enjoy the precious moments we spent together. So many stitches were added with plans and dreams for a future full of love and happiness for my family and hopes that my children would know the contentment and the inner strength that was so much a part of me.

I will never see a lighthouse when I look at my work hanging in its familiar spot on the wall. I'll see bits of me stitched onto cloth - a part of me in every stitch - my plans, my dreams, my worries answered. I often wonder what will happen years from now when I am no longer here, this house no longer mine, this picture still in its carefully chosen frame - no one left to know the me behind each stitch. Will someone hang my work on their wall - my collection of moments, those bits of me in every stitch? Will they wonder about the one whose needle stitched when they see the beautiful lighthouse on the sky blue cloth? 


  1. I love the description of the thoughts that went into all of your stitches. It is going to make me think more deeply whenever I see an embroidery.

  2. This is such a beautiful piece of writing. I think you should print it out and glue it on the back of the lighthouse, so others can read it for a long, long time. My grandmother did a lot of needlecraft, mostly crewel and knitting. Her pieces are in my home today. When I read your piece, I wonder why she thought about as she was stitching.

    1. Thank you! I have placed a copy of the piece on the back of the cross stitch.

  3. I love this very thoughtful piece of work. Not only the lighthouse cross stitch, but stitching your life and thoughts into it. Well done! And someone had better hang it in their home!

  4. Beautiful writing about lovingly creating two pieces of work - I agree with the other blogger who said you should print it out and place it on the back of the lighthouse. My mom, also a long time educator, who has been retired now for years (she is 80) also does wonderful cross-stitch. She also loves to write! You pieces reminded me of her! Thank you!

  5. Karen,
    This piece of writing is as beautiful as the Lighthouse you stitched and hung on the wall.

    This! "Now that the last stitch was finally in its place and I so proudly stitched my name and the year, I realized that for me, this picture was not one of a lighthouse with seagulls soaring about its peaks and waves crashing at its cornerstone. Each stitch was a part of me. It was a collection of moments in time."

    "Each stitch was a part of me." That line really caught my attention. Perhaps it was the shortness of the sentence following the longer ones that had preceded. Perhaps it was the truth in it. It may have been that it brought back memories of watching my grandma stitch her quilts. Each stitch was a memory. I so often wish I could get back to the conversations we had as I sat and watched her stitch, occasionally threading a needle or refreshing her drink.

    I hope you've taken this post, printed it, and placed it in the back of that frame. The lighthouse is beautiful, but the story behind each stitch is a treasure for sure.