It’s chilly this morning. I got Shane on the bus and sat down to have a cup of tea. As I sat down I realized that there is yet another hole in my sweater. I could feel the tears leap to my eyes. Another hole. More unraveling. Let’s get the sewing kit out and fix it before it gets too bad.
I texted Treun, “I am so sad. I keep finding more and more holes to fix. I can’t have this sweater fall apart.” He texted back, “Might be time for a new one.”
NO! Just no. This isn’t any ordinary sweater, you see. This is my big, comfy sweater. This sweater is an 18W and being that I’m tiny, it envelopes me. It goes down past my knees. But the most important thing about this sweater was that it belonged to my grandmother. It is one of the very few tangibles that I’ve kept of my family.
I sewed up the first hole and decided to inspect it. I found two more. I let the tears fall as I sewed them too.
Me wanting to keep this sweater and feeling these random feels about it (I did NOT see them coming at all) begs the question, “Why am I getting so emotional over a sweater from a woman, who when in her right mind, didn’t particularly like me?” I just don’t know.
My teen years were not fun. I was labeled the “rebel.” I was the one Celia cried over. I was the one who was running wild, according to the majority of my family. I just wanted to be out from under their constraints. I didn’t want to be the perfect child like Jill. I just wanted to be free to be me. Celia and I got along horribly. And my grandmother held it against me until I was in my early 30s. In those final years, I guess we reached a tentative peace. The mentions of my past diminished and what ones happened, I learned to brush off. I made a sort of peace with my grandmother without either of us every speaking a word of it. I learned to value her experience and meet her where she was. I started asking her about my grandfather. He died when I was very young and I don’t remember him.
I guess as she got older, I was able to put the stuff she said about me in perspective. She didn’t like how I treated her daughter. She only ever got Celia’s side of the story and never talked to me. I see where she came from, I guess, even if she did hold it against me for over a decade after I grew up.
Now she’s gone. She is still alive but her memories, her brain is lost to Alzheimer’s. I had the chance over the summer to go back, to visit her. I knelt down in front of her wheelchair and said, “Hi, Gram. It’s Hope.” and I could see in her eyes that she didn’t remember me. We talked. She told me about her mom because that is what she remembered. She told me about dancing and how much fun she had when she was young. And again, I told her who I was. She said, “Hope. I know her. She’s my……” I said, “Your granddaugher. I’m your granddaughter. I’m Hope.” and she said, “Hope is my granddaughter. I miss her. I haven’t seen her in a long time.”
And even though it was fleeting, a wispy memory that she grasped at and couldn’t quite catch, I realized that my grandmother loved me. Those last few years when I thought we’d reached a tentative truce were not in my imagination. She’d let it go and we did have something.
And now I have her sweater. It is unraveling like my life unraveled. I will continue to fix it and put it back together just like I do with my life. I will view the holes and the fixed holes like I view my life. Not perfect but it is what happens when we live. We fall, we stumble, we get hurt. But we get back up, we patch up the holes, and we go on. We live with the random feels, we cry, we are comforted or we offer comfort.
And we wrap ourselves up in comfy sweaters, have a cup of tea, and feel loved.