Sunday, August 31, 2008

Memory into a Purl: Knitting Through Grief

Today, meaning August 30th (since I still have not gone to bed), is my birthday. My 12-year-old son brought me breakfast in bed...I know, holy crap, how cute! In case you were wondering breakfast was not burnt toaster waffles, he brought me granola cereal, yogurt and a fruit salad with a big glass of made fresh from concentrate O.J.
My eyes were stinging as I had not gone to bed 'till 3am (up crocheting baskets) and here my son was presenting a delicate tray of breakfast goodies at 9am. Shortly after eating my granola cereal the telephone rings long distance. My son scurries to answer the phone and I can tell by the exchange that it must be a relative and not some annoying telemarketer. My son passes me the phone and its my aunt. My auntie wishes me a happy b-day, but somehow I can tell by her voice that something is amiss. I ignore my instinct and comment on her recent venture into joining the ranks of facebookians. She breaks down crying and tells me I better hustle up to the hospital in Newmarket (a city north of mine) as grandma had a couple of heart attacks and she is not doing well.
CRAP. I knew grandma was going to die, not just because she was getting older, but because she had lung cancer. I love my g-ma and she is so cool. I can say shit or fuck in font of her and she doesn't bat an eyelash. When I grew up and became a woman she talked to me as if we were old buddies. We chatted over breakfast coffee, evening decaf coffee, she snuck me some smokes, and coolest of all passed all her knitting needles and patterns on to ME. When she got diagnosed she was already down almost 100lb so we knew things weren't right. I was not really shocked, but I knew I would miss grandma real bad.
I visited grandma twice over the summer. One day I went up on my own (without my son) and kept her company in her backyard oasis. She smoked the day away while I knitted my current sweater cardigan. She complimented me on my garment then. The next time I went up with my son and she noticed how I was crocheting and she said, "wow, your crochet looks like knitting. It's really neat".
Today was the last time I would see her. I just know it. Today I said my goodbyes to a really cool, wonderful woman and needle artist.
When I first arrived in the hospital grandma was really agitated and uncomfortable. After some drugs and a little snooze she woke up. She wished me a happy birthday. She said, "Oh happy birthday" too bad you are here instead of out celebrating. She noticed once again I had my knitting. I walked up to her and asked her to feel the scarf I was working on. "It's bamboo." She replied, eyes wide, "Oh, it's so soft" Her one last enquiry into my latest project.
When I brought my knitting to the hospital I thought it might be an oportunity to work on some inventory for my store. Almost at the end of my scarf I realized I could never, ever sell this bamboo scarf. My granda saw it, she touched it, she complimented it. In fact I asked all of my family to feel the fabric to see just how soft the bamboo is. Surprise on everyone's face. A moment of distraction from the fact that there was a dying woman in the room. As I worked each stitch, a thought into a knit, a memory into a purl.
Goodbye Grandma Rita-I love you! Say "hi" to Dad.

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