Zombie Mom over at Purses and Poop posted a pic of an adorable hat she knitted on the trip to NYC. Check out her notes and more adorable pics here.
It SO made me think of my late mother! My mother was an AVID knitter! All of my life, I remember her hauling yarn and needles everywhere we went! In the car, at our endless parade of ball games (there were 5 of us!), in waiting rooms, at PTA meetings- everywhere, Momma's hands were busied with her needles and yarn. Beautiful stuff! And always a conversation starter for her, as people always inquired about her project. When we were kids, there were lots of acrylic stocking caps and afghans, but as she got older and money could be spent on things other than college, as daddy travelled the US on business and they travelled the world together, she sought out and found beautiful wools, cashmeres, and other fibers that she collected without even knowing what she would make. "I'll NEVER be able to buy Scottish wool IN SCOTLAND again!", I remember her exclaiming.
After Daddy died, and her life slowed down a bit, I never worried about her getting bored, and she didn't! She had turned the old nursery into a craft room, and my old toy closet was the yarn closet, filled with potential sweaters, afghans, and more.
When the grandkids were born, she had to "shift gears" a bit and purchase more yarn in pastel and primary colors, in order to be able to knit booties and caps, then larger and larger sweaters as the kids grew up. I'm not sure if the kids appreciated those items as much as she appreciated the chance to make them!
Sometimes, when I would visit, Momma would send me to the craft room to fetch a ball of yarn or a set of needles for her, and I would always come back and tell her-"you'd better sit there and knit your little fingers to the bone, because you've got enough yarn in there to last 3 lifetimes, and you're not getting any younger!" That joke always made her laugh, even though I told it like a million times!
One morning in 2002, as I was getting dressed for work, the phone rang and it was my brother Arthur. "Are you sitting down?" "No." "Well, sit down." "Okay, sitting". "Momma had a stroke." "Where is she?" "Memorial Hospital ICU". "I'll be there in 2 1/2 hours".
That was the conversation. I jumped into my truck, balling, and hit the road to fly home on the trip I had made SO MANY times in my life. Houston to Lake Charles. Boring drive. I know it like the back of my hand. It was like a comfort zone to me. The road home.
But not this time. I had no idea what I was driving myself into. Arthur, who had had a laryngectomy by this point in his life, had trouble talking on the telephone. And in distress, it was even worse. So rather than trying to get him to hash through the conditions, the prognosis, etc over the phone, I just jumped in the car to save time.
That was the longest 2 hours of my life. Why, oh why had I not asked how she was? It's okay, I told myself. If she's in ICU she's still alive. She's in the hospital. They can make it better there!
I went straight to the hospital, and spent the day there. It was not good. She could not talk, or open her eyes, but she seemd to smile a bit when I touched her face and spoke to her. I KNOW she knows I was there! The baby she brought into the world was there to see her out of it.
She seemed settled for the night, so we worked out shifts to stay with her, so others could rest. We had no idea what we were in for, but we expected a long haul. Arthur, of course, insisted on having the first night. I went to her house for the first time since the ordeal to try to rest.
Walking into my childhood home, I was and was not prepared for what I walked into. My entrance was normal enough, and as soon as I opened the door, I smelled that distinctive, 40 year old house fragrance that says "I'm home". As I walked through the kitchen to her chair, I was not prepared for what I found next. There, all over the floor in the family room, was the carnage the EMT's had left behind in their attempts to resucitate and stabilize her. My heart sank as I looked at all the pastic packages, swaps, tubes, and paper that had wrapped and held sterile the implements they used to try to save her life. I fell to my knees, and began collecting them up and discarding them into the trash can that always sat by her chair. And there, on the floor, where her feet would have been, was her knitting. A green tweed tube, to become a sweater, I think. Probably for Arthur. She always knitted greens for him.
After she died, I tried long and hard to find a good home for the yarn. It was good stuff, and I wanted to give it to an accomplished knitter who would make beautiful things from it. We found a coworker whose mother knits, and as I was packing it up to send it away, I found 2 shopping bags at the back of the closet. I pulled them out, and marvelled at the tiny, little bitty hats and booties she had knitted with the smallest scraps of yarn. I called to Arthur- "come look at this!" "Why did Momma knit all these doll clothes?" I asked. "Meredith is way too old for dolls now!" I was amazed at the amount of detail on the tiny little garments!
"George", Arthur said, "Those are for the preemies." He had a hard time with p-r sounds, so I wasn't sure I heard right. "The preemies? What preemies? We don't have any preemies in the family, and I don't think we're expecting any!"
"The preemies at the hospital", he replied. "What hospital?", I asked, trying not to become exasperated at his broken speech. "Arthur, you're not making any sense."
He took a deep breath and explained "George, Momma saved up her scraps and knitted these little tiny hats and booties for the babies at the hospital. When they are born, the regular hats and booties are too big, so she makes these little tiny ones so they won't fall off. And she makes these little mitttens to keep them from scratching their faces. Look, they don't have thumbs, because she can't knit a thumb that small!"
Oh, my God, I started balling! That was the sweetest thing I had ever heard! I couldn't believe she had never told me about her little preemie project!
He continued to explain. "When she had a sack full of them, she would take them up to the hospital and give them to the nurses. I always drove her up. They were always so glad to get them. You should take these up there when you can."
I wanted to keep them SO BADLY because they were so cute, but what would I do with 50 little doll hats. Besides, they were for the preemies, and that's who she wanted to have them!
But I couldn't do it! I coudn't stop crying long enough to get there, and I KNEW if I went there with them I would end up blabbering like an idiot!
So, when my best friend's mother came to check on me that night, I gave her the preemie clothes to take to the hospital. After a good cry together, she said she would be proud to take them for me!
So, every time I think about knitting, or yarn, or preemies, I think of Momma. It feels good now.