Monday, March 7, 2011

Missing My Dad and the Comfort of Yarn

I’ve been missing my dad lately. Really missing him. Palpably, consciously missing him. I just want to talk to him. I want to talk to him more than any combination of words and extraneous punctuation can possibly express. It’s better now but it wasn’t then...a few days ago the missing and the desire to just talk to him (just effing talk to him about this stuff, this crazy consuming stuff, all this STUFF) became a physical sensation, a lump sitting just under my solar plexus threatening to immobilize with teary reflections and throat clenching need. So (as I often do) I took a really hot shower and (while making brain soup in the delicious steam) I remembered the yarn (I do some of my best remembering in the shower).

To explain the yarn and I need to talk about Christmas and my dad and Christmas. My dad loved Christmas (my dad was Christmas). Christmas was near death and life renewed and joy and giving and wonder and salvation for my dad and he loved it. In the last years of his life he couldn’t get around very well to shop but he was a terror with a computer and a credit card. He shopped for everyone he knew (and many he didn’t know). He loved the gift hunting almost as much as he loved the giving and he loved a challenge. The thrill of the chase. A Victorian pill box, an out of print-not-especially-valuable-but-treasured-children’s book, an obscure Zydeco Band’s self produced CD or a knitting loom. He loved finding things.

One year I had been doing a lot of knitting and crocheting for a program at the Labor and Delivery Unit on which my daughter worked. Hats and booties and blankets for preemies and for babies who might not make it through the night but got their very own layette nonetheless. My dad was taken with this program and with the teeny-tiny hats and feet and arranged to have all manner of baby yarn arriving at my door with abundant regularity. During this time I wondered at him if perhaps there was such a thing as a knitting loom (or whatever the inventor might have called it) and he was off to find the beast (don’t get me wrong-I pretty much knew he would be-it was the kind of thing he loved to find). Christmas came and there it was: an Amish Knitting Loom. Hand crafted and signed by the Amish man who made it. I can only imagine what it takes to find an Amish man who makes handcrafted knitting looms using only on-line sources. I know my dad maintained an email correspondence with the woman who put him touch with the source for the loom.

Included with the loom were two skeins of hand spun yarn. Beautiful creamy wool spun with angora. Carefully wound with tightly twisted lengths leading to lovely thick sections of light as air wisps of angora. This yarn, my dad said, was to be something special for my very own self and this was the yarn I remembered in the shower.

I had never used that special, lovely yarn. I haven’t knitted much since my dad died (what with one thing and another). The loom looks at me occasionally (but not with malice or accusation-it knows I’ll be back) from atop a bookshelf and the yarn-it got packed away...somewhere.

It took me a while (a semi-desperate search through under-bed and top-of-closet boxes) but I found it. Still wrapped in tissue in a plastic bag. Two skeins of creamy white looped upon themselves in the traditional way waiting I guess, (for Laura Ingalls to hold out across extended hands while Ma winds careful balls for knitting and Pa plays his fiddle by the firelight or) for me for that night that I missed my dad so terribly.

I sat on the bed and looped the lovely confection around my knees (Laura wasn’t available to do her part) and set to the rhythm of winding the loose ball of yarn ready for use.

I’d love to tell you that I sat in contemplative silence and ruminated and reflected on the mystery of life and death and memory but I didn’t. I turned on the TV and relaxed into the pillow at my back and the steady task of the yarn and I didn’t miss my dad so vey much. I’d still love to talk to him but I felt much better. I still do.

I’ve still got the second skein to wind.  

I think I’ll make a hat-a jaunty beret.

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