The Story Continues...



I have been asked so many times why I have not updated my story. The truth is, it took a very sudden and a very sad turn for my family. I just did not know how to write it. Even now, there is no easier way to say it but to say it simply...I lost a child.

In July of 2002, my brilliant, handsome, 23-year-old son, Ross, died of complications of Type1 Diabetes. Ross was an engineering student at Clemson University. His last act was passive, but was based on a decision he had made years before...he was an organ donor. I cannot emphasize enough how much this gift reflected Ross's generous spirit, or how much comfort it brought to me, his brother, and his sisters.

The following weeks are sort of a blur, but I specifically remember that I had already announced a "Christmas in July" ornament discount. I had two children in college, one still at home, and a stack of orders. I had no choice but to run the business that supported us. Honestly, work was my therapy, and the small group of customers who knew about Ross's death were a tremendous source of comfort for me at the time.

Designing ornaments, for me, has always been inspired by my family life. So designing was especially hard for me that next season. Only one came really naturally. That was the Gift ornament. The first one I made was for the man I married three years later. The personalizing said "To: Frank From: Amy.....'You....are a Gift!'" I was poignantly aware of what his love and support had meant to me during that terrible time, and what a "gift" he was in my life. I have been able to tell over the years since then, that many of my customers have chosen that particular ornament for people who have meant a lot to them as well.

In 2003, my daughter Laura was engaged, so I had to do an engagement ornament. In 2004, I designed the Bride and Groom for her and Matt, the most wonderful son-in-law I could ever have imagined. And after 15 years of being a single parent, I was engaged as well. Frank and I were married in January of 2005.

2005 was an easy design year. By summer Laura was expecting her first baby. She sat with me at a craft show as we talked about names and she sketched out the basic idea I used for the "Waiting for You" ornament for expectant parents. In December we all went together for the ultrasound where we found out the granddaughter I had predicted was, instead a grandSON! I asked the "ultrasound lady" how she could tell, and she laughed and told me that when you see a TURTLE it's a boy. When it is a girl, you see a BIG MAC! (honestly...look at any ultrasound....she is exactly right!!)

So...in 2006 came my Turtle ornament! I had baby boys on my mind!!

Grandmotherhood, has, for me, been beyond my wildest expectations. I am called "Mamie" and my grandson, Ash, is "my Main Man!" When designing, I find myself back in toddler-land. Ash loves my new Frog...but his favorite is, as with most little boys, the Bi-Plane. I keep the slightly flawed ones for him to play with when he comes over. He likes the blue ones best.

And as if I were not already blessed beyond measure, in 2009 Ash's baby sister Lilah Rose was born. The granddaughter I have always wanted! Look for designs with little people in mind. Like the little Monkey I have just created for 2010!

I have now been making Dough-si-Dough Christmas ornaments for 27 years. It has been a labor of love. I remember when, as a single mom, I dreamt of the time my parenting work would be done and I would be unencumbered to expand my business and pursue all my other interests. Does that time ever really come for anyone? I love spending time with my husband, I find that my adult children still need me in different ways, and my grandchildren are my favorite play-mates. I am so fortunate to be self-employed so that I can scale down or gear up as my personal priorities change. In 2010, for instance, I will be scaling back in order to spend extra time with my mother who is experiencing some health challenges.

But I can't be fired, and I can't be forced to retire. I plan to keep right on making Dough-si-Dough ornaments as long as I possibly can. I think that my experiences as a woman are very universal; as a mother, as a daughter, as a wife, and as an individual, I intend to keep drawing upon my own life to make ornaments that are pleasing to my customers and relevent to their lives.

I have added a new section to my ornament menu called "Lost Loved Ones." Every person is different and every loss is different, but many of my customers...and many who are reading this...have had similar losses. I hang all of Ross's ornaments each year. Bittersweet? yes....but the "sweet" is very sweet. The very worst part for me is any feeling that he is fading away or being forgotten. His ornaments keep him a part of our Christmas, which is a comfort to me. Even when I feel pain (it never gets less painful) it reminds me of how much Ross was loved, and how much better his life was because he knew he was loved.

I am relieved to have been able to write this continuation of my story. I have attempted to do it many times before, but was not able to balance my desire to keep my website a happy place, and yet share these events honestly. It has been a long journey, but I think the single factor that has allowed me to do it now is that I am no longer just surviving. I am, despite everything, living a joyous, light-hearted life once again.

How could I not be?