And So It Goes

I picked up my sock knitting this weekend.  Not at all excited to work on it.  I have gotten to the point where I have turned the heel and am now just knitting, and knitting, and knitting until I have the required amount of foot.  Around and around I go.  But I keep at it because at some point I know it will be time for more excitement when I knit the toe and finish the sock.

I guess that is what I have been doing.  I’ve been going through my daily routine. With an injured horse on stall rest,  that now includes cleaning stalls and changing bandages daily.  She isn’t very pleased to be in the stall and will clack her teeth at me.  CLACK, CLACK, CLACK!  It is her way of conveying her displeasure with her circumstances.  Much like the scowl or raised eyebrow of an unhappy parent.  Yet, in she stays, and on I scoop.  But today, today felt different.

I threw open the barn doors and breathed in that lovely horsey smell.  My mid sis, by the way, claims it to be the most disgusting smell she has ever encounted.  I can think of way smellier smells.  To mucking I went.  Pick and toss, scrape and spread until I had two clean stalls.  I let my gelding in at night so she can have some company.  The price I pay for being a softy.  Pleased with my labor, I brought my gelding in from the field and fed them both.  Barn kitty got her food too and off I went to the chicken coop.

I haven’t been very pleased with my chickens lately.  They don’t mind eating, but they sure aren’t laying much.  I am only getting two eggs a day where last year I was getting six this time of year.  I gave them a stern talking to.  Freshened up their nesting boxes, food and water and closed them in for the night.

I was walking away from the coop with my two eggs and glanced up towards the house.  And that was when I saw it; my grand ol Camelia (I call her Camy for short) has started to bloom.  She came with the house and stands about 9 feet tall.  Hubby keeps threatening to chop her down because she is too close to the foundation.  But I stand in his way and champion her right to be there.  Looking at her, I realized that while the boring stuff was happening, life was moving on, changing and evolving.  I have been so caught up in the drama of my grief, I was missing what was happening literally in my own back yard.  And so today, I put aside my daily thoughts, and bask in the knowledge that it won’t always feel so bad.  I know it may turn dark  again tomorrow, but I’ll take the sun where I can find it.

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Purple Cow

I had a great childhood.  I blissfully played through life for the first 10 years.  I was born in Philadelphia, Pa.  I think my entire clan got off the boat at Ellis Island and said “We gotta go to Philly!”.   My Dad got a job in Florida working in the Space Industry, so to pre-Disney Winter Park we went.  My Uncle and his family were already there.  I don’t remember much of that move, I was not yet 3, but my Mom said I wanted to go on a Pirate Ship, not a plane.  Knowing how poorly I travel, I probably threw up the entire trip.pirate ship

I thought my oldest sister was the bomb!  At eight years older than me, surely she knew all and any attention I got from her was cherished. She was the director of our fun.  With an extremely creative streak, we did all kinds of fun things.

One night, when my parents went out, older sis created a game called “Purple Cow”.  It was great fun.  What she did was blind fold mid sis and I one at a time, put our hands into some household item she found in the kitchen and described a body part of a cow.  For example, I had to put my hand into something that she told me were eyeballs.  Turns out they were olives, but they felt like eyeballs to a 4 year old!  When it came time to do mid sis, she got really creative and put her hand into a bowl of something she told her was cow poop.  Well my mid sis screamed and flung peanut butter all over the kitchen!  We spent the rest of the night trying to clean up before mom and dad came home.

You never knew what would come out of her mouth.  She is the reason I took a maxi pad to Show and Tell in the first grade.  I found a box of them in her closet.  Not knowing what they were, I asked her about them and she told me they were blankets for Barbie Dolls.  Seemed reasonable to me, and absolutely something I had to share with my friends, so to school it went.  I don’t really remember getting punished, but I’m sure there were consequences.

Older sis taught me all the important things.  When I got older, and we moved to Virginia, she was in college.  She would come home every now and then and we would go out riding around the town.  That was when she taught me to smoke cigarettes, what sex was all about, and what music I should listen to.  She was very opinionated, and if you didn’t agree, she would make this face, turn up her nose, and make a sound that came from her throat.

The night before she died, in her drug induced state she said she wanted to get off the bus.  She was taking a trip without me, having a new adventure.  And in the morning left me behind.  I don’t like being left behind.

Knitting a Metaphor for Life?

Yesterday I completed the body of my first sock and started working on the heel flap!  Progress is being made.  They say (whoever they are) that knitting is very calming and therapeutic.  I have to say that I do agree.  As I was knitting and watching the first season of Madam Secretary I was focused completely on my work as the TV played on in the background.  I felt my spirits lift.

Why would my spirits need lifting you may ask.  Well like I said earlier, my sister, my oldest sister passed away.  It happened quite suddenly although had I been paying attention I probably would not have been so surprised to watch her die in a weeks time.  You see she had been battling breast cancer for over seven years.  They found cancer in one breast at first.  She had the breast removed, went through chemo  and after so many years was pronounced “CANCER FREE” Yea!  We all rejoiced, but she remained reserved.  Not long after that proclamation, they found a different cancer in the other breast.  Again, she had the breast removed, went through chemo, and again after so many years was declared “CANCER FREE”.  Again we were thrilled and hopeful.   Then they found a spot under her arm.  It was biopsied, removed, chemo, radiation etc.  Again the proclamation was “CANCER FREE”.  That was in July (2015).  Then if she was so friggin cancer free, why in the world did she die of cancer on September 4th of 2015.  It seems the cancer went to her liver and her bones.  By the time she felt bad she only had a week left to live.

It has occurred to me that knitting is much like life.  Each stitch you knit, each purl you do, each twist of the thread changes the outcome and look of what you are working on.  Sometimes good and sometimes bad, but regardless each addition has an impact on the piece.  Where knitting does not imitate life is that you do not get to undo what you have done without some lasting impact.  If you make a mistake in your sock, you can rip out the last few stitches and start over.  In life, you can start over but you are forever changed by the last few events.  

Boy would I like a do over of the past six months.  In retrospect I would make some very different choices.  I sure would have gone on that beach vacation with my sister.  But I didn’t know it would be her last.  I would have been more understanding or forgiving when she got snappy and snarky that Sister’s Weekend in the Keys in May.  I would have called more often when I didn’t hear from her instead of getting annoyed that I always had to do the calling.  In the end what difference did it matter.  She is gone and now I can’t rip the stitch out and change the outcome.  

My sister, My Oldest Sister is gone.  She is gone forever, and I am not sure that I will ever be the same.  I miss her everyday.  I reach for the phone, but she isn’t there to call.  I see her husband on a regular basis, but that to is so very painful.  When you think of death and dying, you think of older people.  Not your 65 year old sister.  So the hole in my heart where she used to be is like a dropped stitch in an otherwise finely knitted garment.  There is something missing in my life that will never be replaced.  I am no longer have two older sisters.  I have one.  One who I will cherish and hold on to with all my might.  She is the only person left on this earth that I share a common memory with.

“Keep a fire burning in your eye
Pay attention to the open sky
You never know what will be coming down
I don’t remember losing track of you
You were always dancing in and out of view
I must have thought you’d always be around
Always keeping things real by playing the clown
Now you’re nowhere to be found”

For a Dancer by Jackson Browne

 

Coping With Life and Death

Last week I attended a class to learn how to knit socks.  I arrived early, picked my seat and waited for the class to begin.  Five women walked into the room and sat down. Since we didn’t know each other, the instructor asked us to give our name and tell why we were there.  Obviously we were all there to learn to knit socks, right? Then why, when it came to my turn did I state my name and say “I’m learning to knit socks because my sister died”.  Well you could have heard a pin drop.  Who says such a thing when they meet a group of strangers?  Evidently I do!

And let me tell you, I am not knitting any old pair of socks, I am knitting a $100 pair of socks.  When I added up what it cost I was astounded at what I spent to avoid dealing with my sister’s death.  $40 for the class, $19 for the book, $9 for the needles, and $30 for the wool!  I am going to have the most expensive socks on the block.  They will need to by dry cleaned they are so valuable.  They better come out well.

Did you know that knitting socks require the manipulation of five needles at a time.  I am talking little, double pointed needles.  Now I am not that coordinated, but I seem to be doing ok.  After two weeks of knitting this is what I have….I like pink…not bad for a newbie.IMG_0940