So, if you’re on my Facebook friends list, then chances are you’ve seen that I have rather large ‘memorial’ Picasso cross stitch as my banner. What follows is the reason why. Why it was made, why it took me three YEARS to complete it. Just…why.
My father died on December 14, 2000. He was 67 years old. It was totally unexpected and rocked the entire family to its core.
He was in India for his usual six month stay when my mom got an email from my cousin stating that Daddy was coming back early (this was the end of September and he wasn’t due home until February) due to a stroke. He flew in to Atlanta, where I met his plane. He looked like he’d had a stroke; his voice was very low, his walking slow, and he was having trouble articulating his thoughts. With the help of a doctor’s letter, claiming medical emergency (I still to this day wonder if that Indian doctor knew the truth long before we did), we got him on board an earlier flight so he wouldn’t have to sit in the Atlanta airport for three hours. I showed him a cross stitch of one of Picasso’s paintings (his favorite painter) that I was making as a birthday gift, told him I was pregnant (I had just found out), that I loved him, and I watched him leave.
I didn’t realize that that would be the last time I saw him totally in his right mind.
My mom called me a few days later and told me that the stroke wasn’t a stroke. It turned out my beloved Daddy had inoperable brain tumors. Though the doctors never overtly said they were cancerous, my mom had worked as a microbiologist for 20+ years and read between lines of the paperwork. They were deadly. One was at the base of his skull and that one was inoperable. The other one covered around half of his brain. The doctors gave him roughly a month.
I’m not prepared to lay out everything I went through when he came out here for his final goodbyes. But suffice to say, it was pure hell.
To truly grasp what I dealt with, I will say this: My father taught literacy workshops in India, wrote a Statistics book that was used at one college, that I know of, painted, wrote poetry, short stories and plays. He gave massages, meditated and was probably the single most peacefully spiritual man I’ve ever known. All of that changed.
During his increasingly brief periods of lucidity, he was able to tell me he loved me and that he was proud of me. He was able to understand when I told him I could not have asked for a better father and that he did every. single. thing. right.
By the time he and my mother reached India, he was unrecognizable as the man he once was. He went from crazy but sort of controllable to full blown clinically insane before he died.
I couldn’t touch that damned Picasso cross stitch for two years after he died. I couldn’t even look at it. Once I could, it took me another heartbreaking year to finish it. Am I a Picasso fan? Not hugely. I respect the man’s talent, but that’s not the reason why that cross stitch is currently being framed by my mother and will be hanging prominently in my home.