Cranes and Thanks

by Judith M. Capen

When Kirby was diagnosed with cancer and was asked what she wanted that would help, she said a thousand cranes so she could make a wish. No one had to ask what the wish would be.

Kirby was keeper of origami supplies, paper, sequins for stringing, instructions, in New York so she and Judith began folding and teaching her friends how to make cranes in the three weeks of recovery from the initial surgery before we came to Washington for week four and more bad news. Her amazing pals in New York lived up to the promise that folding five cranes would engrave the skill permanently in the brain. (The eleven and thirteen year olds who visited Sunday proved that young brains only need 3 ½ cranes to learn.)

Since the first surgery in mid-August, her family has been folding and teaching. The word went out to her Smith friends (how could she know EVERYONE at her college?) and we hear of crane making parties in Boston and New York, two Smith-grad-centric places. (Apparently, alcohol was involved at one of these crane-making parties resulting in some quality-control issues. This elicited the rule that cranes had to be signed…)

Relatives in California, Michigan, Ohio have folded and mailed cranes.

Her brother began folding at the end of his summer school quarter: white bond paper with assignments on one side. (In spite of turning handouts into cranes, he got straight As.)

Our friends in Washington, some of whom have known her since she was in utero or in her subsequent 28 years, have folded cranes.

We get the occasional delivery from the office.

Cranes we folded, strung, and gave to people who needed them over the years have come back to help her, now.

Judith, the motorcycle club and the Moms plus friends of Owen’s CHDS class have been stringing. (We string 25 to a strand, allowing easy counting.)

We can tell a lot from the cranes that arrive at our house (besides the love, hope, and caring that we feel in them and appreciate…)

Clearly one NYC Smith friend is a reader of the New Yorker and turned magazine pages into cranes.

A comic book enthusiast couple made cranes from a sacrificed comic book.

A thousand little cranes arrived, en masse, from a fellow Smith engineer, now in a Ph.D. program at Princeton.

The heaviest crane arrived via UPS: welded.

The two largest crane-folders we know of are also engaged in a quest to fold the smallest cranes. Using needles and tweezers. Actually, quite a few people have folded little, tiny, and minute cranes including Kirby’s engineer friend in NYC.

The 6’-4” cousin is not only folding tiny cranes but is hand decorating paper to fold into cranes…

Ramon was the first with tiny cranes, delivered in little origami boxes. And some of the crispest made ones.

The biggest wing span so far: red and white from one of the motorcycle club.

The softest appeared on the dining table: folded from tissue paper. We don’t know who folded it.

We know people sometimes expand their folding from arrivals like the jumping frog, elephants, “magic hat,” and origami boxes (filled with tiny cranes).

We also know that Kirby is in people’s thoughts when they see cranes in other forms (chopstick rest, palm frond in front of the Metropolitan Art Museum) fused glass crane made for her, crane earrings and jewelry. And the arrival of origami paper from people…

From the furthest away:

Switzerland: (including some with fuchsia washes, beet juice, actually) with her oldest pal.

London, England: from a PowerCon colleague, transplanted.

Minnesota: a shoe box full of little cranes from the sister of a Smith pal.

California: 10 from one cousin and more from another.

Cranes from a Smith friend’s class including science money…

109 cranes in a beautifully decorated box.

51 delivered from NYC pals, 3 November 2011

Cranes from South Dakota.

The cranes arriving from people we have never met, or people like a friend of someone at that office who we met only as he delivered cranes, are pretty astonishing to us. We often cry at the kindness.

Cranes have arrived from a classmate from the third grade Burgundy Farm class in which they folded 1,000 cranes for the mom of a classmate who had cancer (she’s still thriving so it seems to have worked…)

Also from the BF classmate’s mom and the mom of a CHDS classmate and Kirby’s internist when she was in high school.

Often after people, especially Kirby’s pals come to visit, I find cranes that have come with them…

Cranes also arrived from Texas and a CHDS pal now in law school.

Thanksgiving cranes arrived from a family who has known Kirby since small childhood.

Kirby, being Kirby, has even donated some strings of 25 cranes to people who she thinks need cranes as much as she does. She had a roommate at Washington Hospital Center for two of her 25 nights there: a sweet older woman with recurring lung cancer who was able to go home after only three or four days so Kirby sent her home with a string.

Kirby left a string of pink cranes with the nurses on Washington Hospital Center 3E (cancer wing) in commemoration of Breast Cancer Awareness month, September, I think.

She gave a string to the receptionist at Walls-Kaufman’s office for his sister who has breast cancer. That same day she gave a string to a woman in the waiting room who is in remission from cancer. That was the string intended for Walls-Kaufman, for the office, for healing.

Sometimes she/we send a crane home with someone who has just learned to fold them and is so amazed and pleased with him/herself.

The cranes come here to help and sometimes fly off with others…

I know in the midst of this nightmare I have misattributed cranes, or not acknowledged them, but I would like all of you crane-makers out there know that the beautiful cranes that surround Kirby’s bed and the ones forming a curtain in the living room help us.

We are so grateful for your caring and effort…Thank you all.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Kim Franklin
    Dec 19, 2011 @ 13:40:06

    Our daily prapers continue for Kirby and her recovery! Remember, you are always welcome to use the Bluffton House, about 1/2 the distance from the Keys.

    Reply

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