The Turning Point
By Rhondda Fanning—Australia
My love of sewing started when I was a child. One of my early memories is learning to use my mother’s treadle machine. My sister recently reminded me that I put the needle through my finger when I was five.
When I retired from teaching Home Economics, I discovered Liberty Jane doll clothes and the 18-inch doll world. I had three granddaughters, so I had the perfect excuse to buy dolls and sew clothes for them. I even enrolled in a Millinery course at TAFE to brush up the skills I had learned many years ago.
I had wonderful plans for all sorts of outfits and accessories. But instead, I complained about various aches and pains associated with old age that limited my ability to sit at my sewing for as long as I would like.
I was impressed with the wonderful work that Cinnamon and Jason were doing in Zambia. I really wanted to be involved. I considered asking at my church if anyone was interested in forming a group to sew the cross body purse. I had downloaded the pattern, but had not yet made one. I thought I should at least try the pattern before asking for help.
Towards the end of 2014, I noticed I was really inaccurate with my sewing at TAFE. Because we had so many assignments due, and because I was also looking after grandchildren, this was all the sewing I had time for. I blamed my problems on the fact that the class was at night, and kept hand sewing as homework to do during the day.
I decided that I definitely needed new glasses. In February 2015, I finally made an appointment with the optometrist who referred me immediately to an ophthalmologist. To my horror, I had an eye disease called Pseudo Exfoliating Syndrome. I also had a membrane growing over the macula of my left eye. I had to have immediate lens replacement in both eyes, followed by a third operation to remove the membrane covering the macula of my left eye.
By August, 2015, my ophthalmologist was pleased with my progress, but said I would have to be patient for my left eye to recover. I tried sewing, but was disappointed with the quality of my work. My ophthalmologist assured me that I could drive, but I had lost confidence. I felt as though I was losing my independence—something we all fear as we age. After not being able to drive, having poor eyesight for close work, and having to be careful after surgery, I found I spent a lot of my time browsing the Internet on my iPad—not really a very satisfying pastime.
Cinnamon’s emails are always fun. I read with interest that Kylie had set up a Facebook group for people wanting to sew bags. I joined the group on a Tuesday morning. Kylie was sending completed bags to the US the following Tuesday. I had grandchildren to look after, but thought, surely I could find fabric and get at least one bag made; but could I sew? I hadn’t had much success with my recent attempts.
I knew I had additional fabric somewhere, but I had to make do with what I had on hand. I still wasn’t confident driving. I worried about lifting heavy boxes to look for fabric. But I did find something—not my first choice, but at least I could cut it out immediately. I really had to post my bag by Thursday when I didn’t have to look after grandchildren, and was determined to make this bag.
On Thursday, I overcame my reluctance to drive and took my bag to my local post office. This was the turning point in my recovery. I’ve started to sew again and my close vision is finally improving. I even feel confident driving.
I don’t think I would have made this progress without Cinnamon’s email and Kylie’s Facebook group. Thank you for your inspiration.