My
Mom taught me to love language and to knit. After cancer returned in 2001 she taught me how to knit. In the months to come as she began and
continued treatment, I began and continued to learn more and more about
knitting. Together we began a small knitting
retreat at which we taught and encouraged others to knit. Over the course of the last five years
between us we taught maybe a dozen people to knit. Many of those people have carried on and
taught others to knit. She was happy
that knitting became such a strong passion for me and she was delighted that we
were able to share it with others who then went on to share it with even more
people. 

The
most important part of the knitting retreats though wasn’t the knitting. It was the laughter and the play. Mom liked being with others and sharing
stories and jokes and she loved to laugh. She liked a good party and she liked seeing people enjoying
themselves. She taught me hospitality,
patience and how to love unconditionally. That’s how she loved us, her kids. No matter what a tangle we made of our lives (and we each had some
doozies) she was there to help us sift and sort through the strands to get
clear again. She enjoyed watching us
unwind and always wanted to help us sort out which yarn we would use next in
creating the piece that was our life. 

The
night before she died, Allan, Patrick, Rose Marie and I were spending some time
with her and with each other. We sat at
the dining room table with some red wine and played a few hands of poker. In the stress of her final hours, we found
release in a pastime from our childhood. We used matchsticks and we laughed and told stories. Mom could hear us as she was in bed in the next
room. I’m sure she enjoyed hearing us
getting along and the laughing.  

All
that reminded me of a poem by Anne Sexton I have shared with others at times
like this. 

 
The
Rowing Endeth

 
 I’m
mooring my rowboat
 at
the dock of the island called God.
 This dock is made in the shape of a fish
   and
there are many boats moored
 at
many different docks.
 "It’s okay," I say to myself,
 with blisters that broke and healed
 and
broke and healed–saving
 themselves over and over.
 And
salt sticking to my face and arms like
 a
glue-skin pocked with grains of tapioca.
 I
empty myself from my wooden boat
 and
onto the flesh of The Island.

 
 "On with it!" He says and thus
 we
squat on the rocks by the sea
 and
play–can it be true–a
 game of poker.
 He
calls me.
 I
win because I hold a royal straight flush.
 He
wins because He holds five aces.

 
 A
wild card had been announced
 but
I had not heard it
 being in such a state of awe
 when He took out the cards and dealt.
 As
he plunks down His five aces
 and
I sit grinning at my royal flush,
  He starts to laugh,
 the
laughter rolling like a hoop out of His mouth
 and
into mine,
 and
such laughter that He doubles right over me
 laughing a Rejoice Chorus at our two triumphs.
 Then I laugh, the fishy dock laughs
 the
sea laughs. The

Island

laughs.
 The
Absurd laughs.

 
 Dearest dealer,
   I
with my royal straight flush,
 love you so for your wild card,
 that untamable, eternal, gut-driven ha-ha
 and
lucky love.

shared 2/17/07.

 

 

 

 

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