The past is another land

July 23, 2009 § 1 Comment

I don’t know if I’ve ever written about it, but my grandmother has cancer. Has had it for over 25 years, and she’s slowly but steadily nearing her end. Dexterity is all but gone, and it’s never hit me as hard as today.

We were sitting in her kitchen together with a sliced-up apricot between us, she in her wheelchair, me next to her, knitting on a sock. Drachenwolle yarn, featuring the same ripe yellow the apricot had inside. And my grandma kept looking at my hands, at the needles, going round and round and round with such longing in her eyes, until I gave her the sock.

Three knit stitches. Three painfully slow, careful knit stitches, was all she could manage before she lost what strength she had in her arms and had to give it back.

This is the woman who showered my sister and me in knits when we were small. My mother brought me back from the hospital in a hat and a dress-cum-sleeping-bag my grandmother had made. When she wasn’t knitting, she was crocheting, or doing the most amazing needlepoint, or painting. She was the one who taught me Hardanger needlepoint when I was maybe six or seven, knits and purls when I was twelve or thirteen, and crochet around the same time. She was the one on whose balcony and in whose living room I spent two summers and a winter knitting garter stitch scarves for myself and my family, and crocheting pot holders for my parents. Who is always the first to ask about what I’m up to in the knitting department.

Three knit stitches is all that is left of that.

Three tiny knit stitches, already indistinguishable from the rest of the lot, that are probably the last stitches she is ever going to knit.

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