Friday, December 26, 2008

The Last Present

Last night after the festivities were over, the last piece of pie tucked into my little grandson’s tummy, and he tucked into bed with his sister, I walked through the house enjoying the sweetness that comes after a day of festivities and celebration. The menorah candles had long since burned out. The tree lights were glowing out into the street.

Taking my cup of tea I sank into a cushion under the tree to let the magic seep into my memory bank. It was then that I saw a present patiently waiting way behind the tree. How had it been missed? I picked it up turning it in my hand. The recycled tissue paper with its wrinkles give it a new texture and quality. It had reached the stage of paper-thin softness that is lovely to the touch but ever so delicate. There is one person I know who will smooth and use tissue paper four or five times; Janet, my sister-in-law.

Opening the note I read, “This vest Mrs Montigel knit for me in the early 60’s. Wondered if you could use the yarn.”

I held it up to have a look. A lovely sage green with an open knit pattern every fifth row, it was in perfect shape. There no holes, snags or signs of wear although I am sure Janet wore it often savoring the care worked into every stitch.

The beautifully crafted vest brought a flood of memories. We grew up in a small town where Mrs. Montigel taught English literature in our high school. I smiled remembering her class. When I get together with high school friends on rare occasions today, her name will pop into the conversation, usually in the form of a quote from Shakespere, Dickens, Wordsworth, Coleridge or Johnson. It is surprising how we still know the figures of speech with examples to go with each one… “furrows, followed, free… alliteration.

In our ignorant sixteen year old ways even as we mocked her she was well loved. And, she loved us one and all. She opened doors to worlds beyond the shores of our reluctant minds, demanding that we go into the green fields of the Lake Country, Robert Burns’ Scotland and into the “best of times and the worst of times.” She really cared that we learn something to take beyond the school doors. She triumphed as she pushed us into our better selves for she believed in the goodness of all humans.

Thank you, Janet. I don’t think I will use the yarn but I will hang this vest in my studio to remind me to craft a little special care and love into my weavings.


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