ESSEX, Vt. (WCAX) Homemade gifts come from the heart. Super Senior Perri Duso is about to give her family perhaps the best present ever for Christmas.
John and Perri Duso
We all deal with the loss of a loved one differently. It's a struggle, but 75 year-old Perri Duso found an outlet to deal with her grief.
She's dealing with the loss of her husband, John, and piecing together memories one stitch at a time.
"He's just an everyday guy. He just liked his flannel shirts," Perri said.
John and Perri were together for 30 years. But in January he was diagnosed with lymphoma and died just three months later. Needless to say, Perri was hit hard by the loss. But she found a unique way to deal with her grief. "The whole project started with this picture. I wanted to make something with his flannel shirts," she said.
John's style was golf shirts in the summer and flannel in the winter. A picture shows John's great-grandchild, Colby, and a eight-year-old granddaughter, Holly. Holly, now 24, married in Florida in the summer. "We were supposed to go to that wedding, but I couldn't go without him," Perri said.
So she took the flannel shirt John was wearing in the photo and made a Remembrance Bear. "And on her wedding day I get this email with this picture. And there is the bear at the head table," Perri said.
Reporter Joe Carroll: Were you floored when you got it?
Perri Duso: When I got that email I couldn't believe it. I said there he is.
"I was instructed to make sure the ears were up," said Sheila Cavanaugh, Perri's step-daughter. She did make it to the wedding.
Reporter Joe Carroll: Did it feel like John was there?
Sheila Cavanaugh: Defiantly.
But it didn't end there. Perri decided to make the whole family bears out of John's flannel shirts. She is now on her 15th -- her last. It will be for her.
Reporter Joe Carroll: Is it going to be difficult when your done?
Perri Duso: I'm going to hate to give away these bears, because every shirt brings back a memory.
This Super Senior needed a bit of super strength to tell this story. John was outgoing and Perri is reserved and didn't want to come across as boasting. She canceled on me once, but decided this was an important story to tell.
Reporter Joe Carroll: Why did you think you had to do this?
Perri Duso To honor John. I just think he'd say, 'You can do this, you can do this.'
Perri hopes others will make mementos to remember loved ones.
"I look at mine and I look at the picture of him with the shirt, and I just know I will cherish it forever," Cavanaugh said.
"Each bear has a little pocket on the back, so I can write a little note to each child," Perri said. A life remembered with the fabric of his life. "It makes me think that he would be happy that I'm doing this with his shirts."