CARTERSVILLE, GA -- In the solitude of her Cartersville home, Barbara Finney is working on her latest creation.
"I just love to crochet and knit," she said.
Barbara makes intricate beautiful keepsakes, and she does it, without fingers. Her knitting needles click together, yarn wound around one stub where her ring finger used to be.
Barbara developed a blood disorder in 1971 that almost killed her.
"You know when you're 25, you think you're invincible," she said.
Hospitalized for six months, doctors did not think she would live. The ordeal cost her her fingers, which had to be amputated.
"I thought you can either meet the challenge, or you can sit around and feel sorry for yourself," she said.
Adjusting to her new reality was often crushing and cruel. Barbara told of one trip through a fast food drive through. When she tried to hand the cashier her money, Barbara says the woman screamed and pulled her hand back causing the money to spill onto the ground.
Barbara says she has learned to look the other way, to realize the problem is that person's, not hers. Then, a few years ago she saw an add in a local paper asking people to crochet. Barbara answered the ad and so began her relationship with Omega Healthcare, a home hospice company. For eight years they have given hundreds of Barbara's home spun goods to sick patients and grieving families, providing a physical measure of comfort during an emotionally devastating time.
Compassion goes into every stitch. "I think if I'm making a toboggan that somebody's little bald head is going to be warm," Barbara said. "I think of people in wheelchairs that are maybe keeping their legs warm."
The disorder that disfigured her hands has helped Barbara find the quiet, measured beauty in life, beauty now shared with others.
"I feel like i'm maybe making a difference in somebody's day," she said.