Monday, March 17, 2008

Handing Down the Tradition

How did you learn to knit? Did you learn from a grandparent, parent, a sibling, a neighbor? Someone else?

When I was young, I wanted to learn to knit. My mother and my grandmother both knit, and it seemed like the likely thing to do. However, every time my mother tried to teach me, we just didn't "mesh". Now this was interesting, since she taught other kids in my school how to knit. (Believe me, I can write this because we still laugh about it.)

So, an older and wiser 7 year old (I was 6) taught me how to cast on and knit. Danita was a good friend who taught me these first basic stitches. Once I had these started, my mother really taught me everything else. It was as though I had to go out and apprentice, and then come back to learn from the master. And my mother really was a master at the craft! Her beautiful lace work, sweaters, and complete suit outfits that she knit were truly spectacular.

Now, we still laugh about this. In the last few years, I asked my mother if my grandmother taught her to knit. The answer was interesting: No. It seems that perhaps my mother or grandmother never thought to ask the other, and my mother learned to knit from her grade 4 teacher. So we have this intergenerational, matriarchical, group of knitters in my family, with each of us going out and apprenticing first!

Whoever taught each of us to knit is heartily thanked. The fact that we all knit ties us together through our yarn and needles. That is a wonderful gift.

Friday, March 14, 2008

There is a season...

Today I think about Spring, the 70's, my grandmother, my mother, and one of my brothers.

So Spring is a time of renewal. What was old, asleep, or perhaps dead throughout the winter is renewed or resurrected in the Spring. This naturalistic seasonal happening is celebrated throughout the world, across many different cultures and faiths.

In the 70s, I remember that song, "There is a season turn, turn, turn...". It was kind of a mournful song, yet at the same time demonstrated the natural way in which the universe unfolds. Of course, the song "Seasons in the Sun" in 1974 hit the radio just a few years after my eldest brother died in an accident at the age of 13. As it turns out, it also came out shortly after DH's father died when DH was very young. So, we have bittersweet memories from a young age about these songs.

Ultimately, the good things that come with Spring and life are really wonderful. They are powerful reinforcers that make us feel happy, and we forget for a while that winter is coming. The losses associated with winter and death push us into a state of denial, anger, etc., that are all a part of normal loss processes. At the start of every winter, people forget how to drive, fret about clearing snow, etc. By February, we are ready for Spring. When Spring comes, we expect things to go well. There is sunshine, flowers, buds on the trees, and hope.

The irony, I think, in my family is that Spring is also associated with loss. I say this not in a mournful way now, but rather in a reflective way. My grandmother would often talk about how everyone in her life died in April. It was true - her parents, her brother, and my grandfather. In fact, she died 14 years to the day later than my grandfather! In addition, my brother who died at age 13 also died in April. It seems the only happy things that happened in April are my birthday and my marriage!

So, as I found that my mother was once again in the hospital two days ago, I can't help but wonder if she is going to be all right. We have had almost an additional 22 years with her after she was seriously ill in the Fall of 1986. We thought she was going to leave us at that time, but have been fortunate to have many more years with her. Over the last couple of years, her health has declined to the point where she seems to develop pneumonia on a yearly basis, and is now in a nursing home. We are hopeful that she will remain with us. However, we also know that she is like the lovely leaf on the tree. She is full of beautiful color, has contributed to our sense of wonder and love about the world around us, and one day she will simply float off the tree. It would be nice to glue such a leaf to the tree to prevent it from falling, but that will only delay the inevitable circle of nature.

So, if we are fortunate enough to enjoy her beauty for another few years, we will be very appreciative. However, if that is not the case, then we must be appreciative for the beauty that she gives us as she is now.

I do know that she is rather tenacious, so really am hoping she has a little glue left!