Archives for September 2019

The Passing of Loved Ones

The Passing of Loved Ones

I am so saddened to share the news of my husband Michael’s passing in early May, 2019; and my mother Dortha’s death in mid-July, nine weeks later.

Michael has been my lover of 45 years, husband of 42, my dearest friend since the day I met him, and the father of our son for 34 years.

You know him as the driving force behind,, and major participant in the numerous books, tutorials, and teachings that we have shared with the carving, pyro, and craft communities.

In 1997, Mike, an experienced woodworker and woodworking tool collector, created our first website and took my art and my love of teaching out to the world. He created the opportunity for us to share our lives – both as partners in love and partners in business together here in our home studio.  His empty desk is just ten feet away from the kitchen coffee pot,  twenty feet from our sitting spot on the back porch, and ten feet away from my craft table.

Mike was the one who answered the phone, at 11 pm, and talked you through your first experiences in downloading from the internet.  He patiently walked you through so many exasperating problems – how to open a zip file, where you could get a free graphics program, and why you couldn’t download to your IPad – we all experienced as new computer users, new carvers, and new home business people.

He would help anyone with any problem, and if he didn’t know the answer he would stay with you on the phone until the two of you figured it out.

I can still hear him in the early hours of the morning, on the phone, talking with someone on the US West coast on how to set up and use their new printer … his laughter filling the house as he freely shared his knowledge with you as well as your emotional ups and downs as a new computer user.

His voice is still here in my posts to the forums, Facebook groups, and my blog where he is in the background dictating, editing, and adding juicy little tid-bits of information as I frantically try to type fast enough to keep up with him.

Mike once stopped me in my furious typing to ask me which finger I used to type with … he was holding up his two index fingers.  I laughed, and had to explain to him that I used all ten.   After that if he need to type anything longer than three sentences he summonsed me with a “Susie!

Often, without complaint and without any envy or jealousy, he had to take the back seat to my growing career and my public face on the net and through publications.  He did so with a smile and with constant encouragement to me.  And he is the only man for whom I would drop anything I was doing just because he needed another cup of coffee.

He would have been 64 years old this week, but he passed far too soon … I could have done another life time with him.


My Mom’s death followed Mike’s nine weeks later.  She made it one day past her 94th birthday, a major feat considering the pain and illnesses from which she suffered.  Mike and I were blessed that she was able to share our home and our lives for 12 years.

It was from my Mom that Mike and I learned the craft trade through her home ceramic business, Dottie’s Art Corner.  I have often shared that while Gloria Steinman and Barbara Milkuski were burning their bras on campus in protest to women’s equality my Mom was already doing ‘It’.

She took her love of crafting from her kitchen table in 1968, when Dad lost his job because of government rifs, to become the largest tri-state ceramic/crafts distributor by the early 80’s.

Her dedication and her selfless efforts totally supported our household, put three of her children through college, at one time employed eight people, and paid for my parent’s retirement home.

Beyond being a great Mom, she was a great role model for whom I am deeply appreciative for all that she shared through her life with me.



Both Mike and Dot died at home through the help and support of the Frederick Co., MD Hospice, who’s program they entered in late February this year.  My son and I are so grateful for their support, and knowledge as we as a family worked through these experiences together.

So if I have been overly quiet this entire year, please know that it was because my focus had to be on them to help them through this last stage of life as easily and comfortably as possible and not because I was ignoring you, my friends and craft companions.

And if I have been slow in sharing this with you, please forgive me as sometimes life does become a touch overwhelming.

Hopefully I am ready to pick myself up and get going again …

Thank you for letting me share this small part of my life with you today.

~Lora “Susie” Irish