I bought some really cool shoelaces yesterday. Actually, I bought four pairs – three neon sets for the younger members of my family and one fairly sedate, if Mardis Gras can be considered sedate, for myself.
These laces are very special. They’re made to honor the life of Charles Austin Kreinik, a young man from my hometown who took his life this past year at age 28. As the packaging for C.A.K.S. (Charles Austin Kreinik Shoelaces) says:
“In the end, Charles was affected by physical pain, alcoholism, and depression, but in brighter days he was a gifted person of quirky humor and generous spirit.”
I did not know Charles, but I do know his parents, Doug and Myla Kreinik. Doug graduated from high school with my sister; I met Myla serving on the Artsbridge Board. My heart aches for them as it would for any parent, child, sibling, spouse or friend who suffers such a loss. In a perfect world, no one should feel as if suicide is the answer, and no one should have to deal with suicide, for it is a long road back through grief, and it’s a different path for everyone.
But ours is not a perfect world, nor is that what this blog is really about. It’s about what Doug and Myla have done with their grief, fresh as it is. When I stopped by to get my laces, Doug told me how this project developed.
I. Love. This. Story.
In the face of everything, it’s about hope and the future, living, and lighting the way. I’d like to share that story with you.
Doug operates Kreinik Manufacturing, a small business known worldwide for its exquisite metallic thread. If you are a needle worker, you’ve run across at least one pattern (more likely hundreds), calling for one shade or another.
Many long mornings after his son’s death, Doug awoke with a lingering dream in his mind and on his heart. In this dream his son had said to him, “Shoelaces, Dad.” Not too long after that wisp in his subconscious, a friend was helping gather and straighten up some of Charles’ things. Out slipped some shoelaces.
Ah, once is curious, but twice is quantum flirt territory. It made Doug think of a dusty shoelace-making machine at his factory, one that had waited patiently for 30 years to be of use. As Doug says, he didn’t know how to use it and hadn’t taken the time to really learn it. But then here was his son saying, “Shoelaces, Dad,” followed shortly by shoelaces dropping serendipitously out of his son’s belongings.
Some things simply won’t be ignored. So with the glimmer of an idea, Myla and Doug went to work, figuring out the intricacies of making shoelaces with their glorious metallic thread. Today, they’ve produced Designer Shoelaces for a Cause – from multi-colored to neon-bright to customized colorways. The Kreiniks are launching this project because, while suicide may have dimmed their son’s light, they want others to keep their lights shining brightly.
Profits from C.A.K.S. (Charles Austin Kreinik Shoelaces) will fund suicide prevention, addiction counseling, and grief support programs. As the Kreiniks say,
“Lace up your shoes, put one foot in front of the other, and keep on going—or dancing! Your purchase helps others, supports grieving families, and makes the world a little brighter.”
I am grateful, today, not so much for my new sparkly laces, but because I walked away humbled and yet so uplifted by how these two parents are slowly, surely transforming their grief into purposeful action. I have no doubt those glittery, glowing laces will keep Charles Austin’s light shining in the world as a ray of hope for others who may also be struggling. What a tribute.
If you are interested in supporting their causes – and I hope you are – or even just interested in really cool shoelaces, I encourage you to check them out. For just $10, they will be available at http://www.kreinik.com/. You can also find the company on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Kreinik.Manufacturing.Company. Expect to see packages of C.A.K.S. in select local stores (Parkersburg, WV) very soon.
Of course, if you just can’t wait (they will make nice gifts for your holiday of choice), here’s Kreinik’s contact information:
Kreinik Mfg. Co.
P.O. Box 1966,
Parkersburg, WV 26102