Monday, December 27, 2010

A Spark (creative non-fiction)

A Spark

It was Mom who lit the fire. She kindled the flames. She kept it lit.

Having observed my passion for knot tying, Mom viewed a knitting kit as the perfect Christmas present. The kit contained a large round neon green plastic knitting loom, bright acrylic yarn, and a short wooden needle. I learned quickly how to manipulate the yarn, loom, and needle in order to knit.

I began knitting on Christmas day and didn't stop until a peg broke several days later. However, in that short period of time I knit many tube scarves. I still recall my favourite. It was green with green and white pom-poms on each end. I wore it with pride.

When the peg broke, Mom took this as a sign that I was ready for two needles. Because of our sometimes-abrasive relationship, Mom decided to ask her Mom to teach me.

This was a wise choice. My grandma was a skilled artisan, having won many fair ribbons for her crafts. She was an experienced instructor, having successfully taught all four of her daughters to knit. Moreover, my respect for my grandma meant that I would have to control myself. No matter how frustrating knitting became I couldn't throw the needles. I knew my grandma wanted me to persevere, how could I disappoint her?

Once I had a grasp of the basics, it was Mom who guided me into a knitting class. The class was given through the local 4-H. She made sure that I completed my knitting homework.

She was always there to lend a hand when the need arose. She buoyed me up when I faltered. She wanted her only daughter to share her enjoyment for knitting.

Fortunately, our tension was so similar that we could easily work on the same project.

"Who's knitting that anyway?" My brothers teased.

"Leanne is," Mom countered. "I'm just helping her with a tricky bite."

No knitting challenge was too difficult, no pattern too tricky, no yarn 'unknittable'. She was my knitting guru.

Years passed and I moved away. Alone, my knitting was not nearly as smooth. My needles wavered. Yarn twisted, tangled, and was tossed. My eyes burned as I peered at patterns.
Life as knitting became difficult when word came that Mom was losing her battle with cancer. I hurried from British Columbia to Manitoba to be by her side.

I have never experienced anything more difficult than watching cancer eat away at Mom. Piece by piece it devoured her. There in her palliative care room I turned to an old friend for comfort--knitting. I selected a skein of yarn and began to make a yarn ball.

"You still enjoy knitting?" Mom inquired with a twinkle in her eye.


"Here let me help with that." Her goal to be useful momentarily overcame all thought of pain. I handed her the yarn ball. One wrap, two wraps and then she just couldn't go on. "You'll have to go it on your own, honey." Solemnly she handed me the yarn ball.

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