Yesterday was All Souls Day, or, as some call it, Day of the Dead. It is the day when it is said the veil between the worlds is the thinnest and we can connect with our loved ones that have made their transition. It got me to thinking about the different ways we connect with our loved ones throughout the year and how we comfort ourselves in their absence.
My Mom made her transition in 2002 and there is not a day that goes by that I don't miss her. There are so many things I never got a chance to ask her. By the time the questions presented themselves to me, she had started showing signs of dementia and severe depression. Then she was just gone. As I have gotten older, the answers to some of those questions have come to me in quiet moments when I reflect on her life and her challenging upbringing that made her who she was. I find that now, in my 60's, we are probably closer now than we were when she was physically here. When I want to spend some "quality time" with her now, I take out my knitting needles.
My Mom was an accomplished knitter and crocheter. I have never been able to even come close to her expertise with needles and hooks. My sisters and I, and our children, were the recipients of beautiful sweaters and baby blankets, and lovely crocheted lace table scarves. Some days when it is very quiet and I think back to those days, I can hear the sound of her needles clicking away while I was curled up in the big armchair with a book. I was never interested in learning these skills when I was younger, but motherhood brought out the desire to learn.
Especially at this time of the year, when the weather turns cold and thoughts turn to scarves, hats, mittens and Christmas, my hands start itching for the feel of those needles in my hands. That is when I feel her presence very close to me. Sitting in my low armed rocker, needles moving in rhythmic time, I talk to her about my life as it is now, of the challenges of moving into my Third Age, or Wisdom Years. I tell her how I wish she were here to guide me through it because sometimes it's hard to be the one the others look to for answers to their problems when you don't know the answers to your own. I tell her that knowing I can do anything I want with the years ahead of me is often scary and exciting at the same time. I tell her I wish that she had had this freedom, this opportunity for self-creation in her own time and that it would have been sweet to be able to go through it with her. Most of all, I ask her to guide my hands, as well as my heart, as I weave this gift I am making for someone I love. All the time I am doing this, I am wearing an old sweater that was hers, a tweedy-looking thing that reminds me of the bible story of Joseph and his coat of many colors. Somehow wearing that sweater while my needles move feels as if she is there looking over my shoulder watching my stitches and whispering in my ear.
It doesn't matter how we remember our loved ones as long as we do. They are part and parcel of who we are and the legacy that is ours to continue to pass on. Perhaps you remember them when you are baking cookies, or hiking in the woods, or gardening. Perhaps you see them in the faces of your children or your grandchildren. Perhaps you need to find that place where you can finally work out all of those unresolved issues and give them and yourselves peace. There will always be that place inside you where they live. For me that place is in my hands, knitting memories one loving stitch at a time.
And so it is.