A Stitch In Time

My mother was from the generation of women who cooked meals from scratch, knit sweaters, and made most of our clothing … and like most women of her generation, she taught these skills to her daughters.  I learned how to knit and sew, but admittedly, I never bothered to actually use the skills.

When my mother was in her mid-80s, she developed terminal cancer, and eventually the call came one afternoon that the end was near.  I travelled the 700 km back home to be with her in her final hours.  She clung tenaciously to life for 5 days and during this time I sat vigil with my siblings by her bedside.  It turned out to be a special time of re-bonding for us – we told stories, and laughed about our antics as kids growing up. During this time, my sister-in-law would knit quietly while we chatted. Before long, my sister and I also picked up some needles and began to churn out multiple wool squares that would eventually become a quilt.

For months after my mother passed away, I continued to knit square after square.  It was a peaceful activity that helped make me feel connected to my past and my family. Eventually the urge to knit passed.

It’s been almost 3 years now and my mother’s knitting needles have sat in a tall container by my bedside table.  Recently I’ve been feeling the ‘call’ of the knitting needles and I finally responded. Once again I’ve been lulled into the calm of knitting row after row of wool squares.  I have no desire to create anything else, but the quiet meditation which comes from the repetition of knitting makes me feel grounded.

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I’ve often thought that my mother gave us one last gift before she left us – the gift of time together.  Not since we were children did my siblings and I have so much time together to talk and really connect with one another.   It helped set the stage for this new chapter in our lives as ‘orphans’.

Only recently have I now come to realize that my mother gave me a second gift … the opportunity to reconnect with a simple skill she taught me so long ago.  We can never be sure what will become a ritual in our lives  … those things in which we will find comfort or pleasure when the need arises.  I now know there is one more ritual I can embrace when the time arises, to help calm the inner turmoil that comes during the cold days of winter.

About Joanne Sisco

Retired but not idle. Life is an adventure - I plan to continue to embrace it.
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16 Responses to A Stitch In Time

  1. Pingback: Creating A Life |

  2. I completely understand. My mother taught me to sew, embroider and cook. I stitch occasionally and the repetitive action has a meditative quality about it. I never really thought about it.

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  3. Debbie M. says:

    Beautiful Jo, thankfully in our later years we can look back and recognize these “gifts”, do you ever wonder what gifts we will leave our sons?

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    • joannesisco says:

      Thanks for the kind comment. I really appreciate it.

      Your question is pretty profound. I hadn’t given it any thought. I only hope my sons will remember me with kindness and a sense of humour! There’s always a danger than we won’t age well and become mean and grumpy over time. I hope to avoid that course!

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  4. nancytex2013 says:

    Such a beautiful post. I love the tenderness with which you recount what must have been very difficult days, saying goodbye to your mom. And you describe her two gifts so poignantly. A beautiful read, Joanne.

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  5. Lynn says:

    So many of these wonderful crafts passed down from generation to generation seem to be becoming a lost art. I love that the simple act of knitting squares reminds you of your Mom and has the ability to bring a sense of calm to you. I am sure she is smiling wherever she is, knowing that she has given this gift to you. Lovely post:)

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  6. What a pleasure to read…We women ‘d’un certain age’, as the French so eloquently say, often need to reflect on the more tender moments in our lives and you’ve shared this beautifully – thank you.

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    • joannesisco says:

      I’ve noticed that as we age, some people develop sharper edges and a tongue to match, while others mellow and soften.
      I think our capacity to see good and feel joy in the ‘small moments’ determines which category we will fall into. Hopefully I can stay closer to the latter than the former 🙂

      Thank you for your kind words.

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  7. sueslaght says:

    Thank you for sharing this special life journey with us. Beautifully written.

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  8. davecenker says:

    I have felt the very same bonding during a time of loss in my life. I remember sitting with other family members in remembrance of my grandmother. I suddenly felt the urgency to talk with my grandfather and other family members. To learn about all the stories that he had to share. Stories of his time in the war, lessons from his childhood, learning of the simplicity of times gone by. It was one of the most therapeutic and eye-opening experiences of my life. I began to truly appreciate the fragile nature of life as well as the wonderful tales that are weaved by those around us in our time on earth. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story and best wishes for many hours of comfort and fond memories.

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    • joannesisco says:

      After my mother passed, I felt a great responsibility to write the story of my parent’s life. Everyone has a story to be told and there is so much ‘knowledge’ that is lost with the passing of each generation. Maybe you have felt the same urge about your grandfather’s story … one that can be enriched by the memories of your own relationship with him and your grandmother.
      Thank you and best wishes!

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