Monday, October 15, 2012

Results of a Spinal Surgery Decision

Results of a Spinal Surgery Decision.  Stitched words:  Still driving, quilting, and making the most of Life.  Xylene photo transfer on tea-stained muslin.  Hand stitched.  25" x 31" unframed; 31" x 37" framed.  Click on image to enlarge.

The day after Dawn Goldsmith posted a blog entry about my Decision Portrait Series, I got LOTS of email messages.  It felt like the entire fiber arts world was coming to my rescue...volunteering to participate in the series by sharing deeply significant decisions.  I opened a note from Suzanne Riggio and read, "Susan, my decision was 'I chose spine surgery'. My picture would be me in a wheelchair, a paraplegic, as a result of this decision.  Are you interested?"

Of course I was interested!  We immediately started a chain of correspondence and the focus of the piece began to change.  Sure, Suzanne made the decision to seek surgery.  It went badly.  This was TERRIBLE.  Her husband and five children were obviously devastated.... but that was the beginning of many, many new, powerful decisions.  Suzanne was determined to continue living a very full life.... and she's doing just that!

Her emails were full of enthusiasm and future plans.  Her engineer/son designed and created unique pieces of equipment for her daily life, including a sewing machine adaptation system!  She drives with hand controls and recently finished a major fiber project, St. Mary's commemorative quilt.  So, although Suzanne decided to have spinal surgery, this Decision Portrait focuses on her positive decisions in the aftermath.  She joins me in hoping that those to see the piece will consider how they might handle physical limitations and other negative situations. 

Suzanne wrote an email after seeing the finished piece saying, "Susan, what a lovely piece!  I brought in my husband, sat him down next to me, and surprised the heck out of him with your images.  Then we read the text.   He gave me a hug (as much as is possible when one of you is in a wheelchair!) and said, "Suzanne, you are an inspiration to us all."   We love your depiction and your words.  Thank you."    

Suzanne really is an inspiration to us all.

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