this (knitting) life
My cousin Anne was a keen knitter. She had no children of her own but particularly enjoyed undertaking knitting projects for new additions to our large extended family.
However, her untimely death at a relatively young age left several babywear items in various stages of incompletion. In fact, some were barely started and it became apparent that Anne often abandoned one project for the excitement of a new one when a new pregnancy was announced.
Anne’s mother, Marj, was also a knitter of some note who, like Anne, left behind a legacy of incomplete projects. Maria, one of the matriarchal aunts, stepped up with good intentions to do what she could to complete their knitting projects and stored the sundry items in various shopping bags.
However, tragedy struck: Maria — who seemed one of those people blessed to be forever young — was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, and was gone before we knew it.
So I gathered together all the bits and bobs, scraps of wool, a seeming multitude of knitting needles and dozens of knitting patterns (none of which seemed related to any of the accompanying garments). I put together the pieces, much like a jigsaw puzzle, while the spirits of my predecessors looked over my shoulder with goodwill and love.
One by one, all the items were completed, and I imagined the earnest approval of Anne, the raucous laughter of Marj and the warmth of Maria’s gentle smile.
With the giving of these gifts goes the unwritten understanding they will be passed on to future babies. It is not based solely on the value of the garments themselves but is an acknowledgment that the care and thought that goes into their making should be shared. How won- derful the difference it has made in our family. New parents are not merely congratulated and their new baby goo-goo’d and gaa-gaa’d over. Rather, the sense prevails that the baby is a member of an extended family stretching back in time.
My husband and I often reflect on our own time as new parents. At family gatherings, our boys would be passed around for cuddles, giving us a break.
Even as toddlers, older cousins would make sure they were entertained and safe — a welcome reprieve.
How lucky — yet unknowing — is Anne’s great-niece Molly to have been shown so much love before she was even born, and to be welcomed with these garments into such a caring family. How comforting to know that the cycle of family and living and loving continues.