Last Thursday, I kept my promise and stayed overnight at my mother’s house, bringing along six balls of yarn, a knitting pattern, and my mother’s collection of knitting needles which I had long ago appropriated after she decided she no longer had time to knit. Lately though, she has seen me knitting and decided that she should return to it.
My brother and sister-in-law had joined us for dinner that night. I made an eye of the round roast to suit my brother’s meat and potatoes palate. They sat at the kitchen table, sipping their drinks and eating pistachio nuts and cheese while I riced potatoes and steamed green beans in the microwave. And they told us the news that their daughter, my niece, was pregnant and expecting her baby in October. Unfortunately, the father of the child was not in the picture and wanted nothing to do with raising the child. But she had gone to social services and they said they could get money from him so everything would work out, etc.
After dinner and the dishes were done and my brother and his family left, Mom and I we able to sit down again to focus on our knitting. Mom seems to have remembered quite well how to do it, although she holds her right needle like a dagger and seems to stab the work rather than let the stitches slip from the left to the right handed needle. Who am I to correct her I thought as I remembered when I bought her a computer and she had trouble finding the D key on the key board because back in 1936 when she studied typing in Canada, the QWERTY keyboard had not yet become standard. Nevertheless in the hour of knitting she did manage to get through an inch of the sweater's front ribbing.
With each of us established in our own knitting rhythm Mom began to discuss the evening. She commented once again how good it was to see my brother eat so well—her indirect way of saying that it is so unfortunate that my sister-in law—as sweet as she is and as helpful and willing as she is to help with the dishes—never was a good cook and had never been all that well since the birth of their first child. This last statement proposed as if the former condition should have warned us all of the latter condition before it emerged.
Mom was especially glad that we had not responded to my brother’s news that he and his wife were to become grandparents again with any signs of shock, anger or condemnation. My mother, at 91 yeas of age, may not be happy that her 24 year old grand-daughter seems content to become the baby mama of some local scoundrel but she’s not going to express that in any way that seems like judgment of my brother and his wife. Nevertheless she had expected that her son and daughter-in-law would have become a father-in-law and mother-in-law themselves before their children started making them grandparents. And isn't it amazing how much the world has changed, and isn't it good that my father was not aliven to see what has become of his grand-children?
All of this was expressed with the calm, sustained cadence of knit 2 purl 2 as a 91 year old who has not forgotten how to knit slowly adapted to the world she now lives in. I sat there with her, knitting and purling along with my own seed stitch pattern, wondering if my pending grand niece or nephew would ever sit in that same room with his or her great-grandmother and play with the toys which my Mother had preserved now for three generations. Somehow, while the conflict of two generations converging around me should have been so stressful, the cadance of needles, knitting and purling, offered balance and continuity and the peaceful assurance, that with time, everything could turn out all right.