It's 23 years today since we buried my dearly beloved Mother.
My heart still breaks when I think of all that has happened in that time, all the things she has missed. Or rather, that I have missed having her here for, because I do believe that she can see everything that's going on, and that she is here, just that I can't see her or hear her. I sometimes feel her presence, and there have been a couple of occasions over the years when I have really needed her, and she was here for me. On one recent occasion, I awoke in the middle of the night, felt her right beside the bed, and "heard" her ask me to look out for someone for her. I thought that very strange, as I didn't know that person needed me so, but later it transpired that Mother knew best.
Anyway, in her honour, I'll share a knitting story today.
My Mother was a fantastic knitter.
She learned to knit at age THREE, taught by her Dad (the same grandfather who was born in Buenos Aires!).
This was in the 1920's and Ireland was a poor country, making this recession look like chickenfeed! My Mother's family were poor too, and materials were scarce, so she would knit her little piece of yarn as she walked around the yard, throwing it over her shoulder when it became so long that it trailed the ground- which wasn't all that long, she was only 3!
Then, when all the yarn was used, she would rip it and start again. Over. And over.
When she was older, she had a job minding a little boy. A latter-day au pair.
She loved to knit little outfits for him, and our family album had a couple of photos of him in her creations. Sometimes she would follow patterns, but she often adapted or made up her own. A latter-day designer.
Then she went to the UK and trained to be a nurse, but in the evenings she would knit beautiful jumpers and cardigans.
When we were children, her speciality was Aran knitting. She sold her creations, and had quite a little business going sending them to the US, through a lovely lady who we met on a family holiday in Donegal. With each sweater, there would be correspondence, and I was the scribe. My Mother was left-handed, but in those days at school, children were forced to write with their right hand, so she never liked writing, and would always dictate the letter to me as her needles clacked away. Well, I had nothing better to be doing, and she did!
When she passed away, she had about 20 Aran sweaters completed which didn't have wearers. She always had something "on the needles", so if she didn't have an order to complete, she just knitted something anyway.
We wondered what to do with all these sweaters
One in particular was a beautiful "bawneen" gents cardigan, in a lovely subtle cable and trellis pattern, similar to the pattern in this picture. It had two pockets in the front. I knew exactly who it would fit!
At that time, there was a broadcaster on Irish radio each weekday morning from 10 to 12, and my mother greatly enjoyed his programme, as did most Irish housewives. She had often said to me that she would love to knit an Aran cardigan for "Gaybo".
Not long after that, Gaybo had his autobiography published, and he was doing a signing at a Dublin bookshop. I wrapped the cardigan, along with an explanatory note, and went to the bookshop. I got cold feet at the last minute, and thought I would be extremely embarrassed giving it to him, so I just gave it to the employee who was managing the long queue, and told him that Gaybo would know what it was!
I received a lovely note a few days later, typed and signed by Gaybo, He was thrilled with the Aran, told me that it fit perfectly (which I knew it would!) and that he would enjoy wearing it on his walks around Howth Head.
When I read his autobiography, I discovered why the note was typed and not handwritten. He too hated to write, ever since his accountant had embezzled his pension fund - Gaybo had trusted him and just signed whatever papers he produced. And after he discovered this, Gaybo found it almost impossible to write.