While doing the In Your Wildest Scottish Dreams blog tour, I was asked to complete a questionnaire. One of the questions was: what five words describe you? My answer: She never gives up. Okay, it was only four.
I won’t describe my journey to publication, since I’ve done so numerous times. Suffice it to say it was long and painful. Instead, I’ll illustrate the point with a story about a stupid hooked rug.
One day I went in for my routine annual GYN exam. I got a phone call a few days later. Would I please come in and talk to the doctor? At that point in my life I didn’t do what I do now – freak out. I was too young and too naive to believe bad things would happen to me.
My pap test was odd. They wanted to do a biopsy. Was that okay? Um, yeah.
A few days later I was in a hospital room in Chicago, looking out over the skyline of a city bright with lights, waiting for the doctor to arrive. I can still remember the absolute panic I felt. The biopsy had been an operation. I was completely sedated while they took sections from my cervix.
The doctor arrived, and with no bedside manner at all – okay, a sucky bedside manner – said, “It’s malignant.”
Thus began a series of operations. They took out my uterus, cervix, and a few other things, but they were going to leave one ovary. Evidently, my youth – I was 27 – was enough of an inducement to leave the ovary. Little did anyone know that I would have to have surgery to remove that one ovary only a few years later.
Okay, the story so far is a gentle hint – get your exam. Okay?
The second part of the story is this: I was absolutely wiped out by the treatment. I could barely lift a finger I was so exhausted. My darling mother got me a hooked rug kit to give me something to do other than stare at the TV. I couldn’t even read – my mind couldn’t focus. So, I would look at that stupid rug kit until I opened it up one day, finally got the hang of looping one of the pieces of wool and pulling it through the backing. I would do maybe five before I had to quit. Later, as my strength got better, I would feel successful if I could get a whole line done. The rug was three feet by four feet, in a Georgia O’Keefe kind of flower, a bright red arching tulip.
Life passed. I healed, got my strength back, and put the rug back in the box and stuffed it into a closet. I kept finding it, though, and wondering when I was ever going to finish it.
I decided that the stupid thing was an emblem. A task I needed to complete. I don’t know why. I had other things I could be doing, trust me. I was a widow with two boys. But every night when I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep, I’d haul out that rug and I’d do a line.
Life passed some more. I had another two operations, another series of treatments. I went through another tragedy, and that damn rug didn’t get any smaller. At this point, it was the Matterhorn to me. My mother had a piece of unfinished needlework hanging around for dozens of years. I used to tease her that we just didn’t finish stuff in our family – I was determined to be the first one who actually finished something. I was not going to quit until it was done. So, whenever I had any free time, I’d do a few more loops.
Nearly ten years later, as I was hooking (the rug) one midnight and watching some show on TV, I realized that I was down to my last inch. If I really concentrated, I could finish the stupid rug that night. I went on double speed. By dawn, I was done. Yes, I had to go to work a few hours later, but I didn’t care. I WAS DONE!
You know what I did?
I gave the rug away to Salvation Army.
I never, ever wanted to see it again. To this day, whenever I see a hooked rug kit, I cringe. But when I remember it, I remember that I wouldn’t give up, wouldn’t shove it in the back of the closet, wouldn’t quit. It was important to me to finish it, just to say I could.
I’m pretty much the same way with almost everything nowadays – except cleaning.
How about you? Have you had any experiences with hooked rugs?