Passage of Time

With the impending arrival of Father’s Day tomorrow and Mother’s Day in the past, I have done a lot of reflecting on my own experiences with my parents. How they raised me, their only daughter, in the late 50’s and early 60’s while keeping a deep and very dark (to them) secret.

Shortly after my mother passed away in October of 2008, we found out that she had given up a baby boy for adoption in May/June 1956. Had she given birth to that baby boy, she’d have been ostracized. She’d have been labeled a strumpet, a hussy, a tramp. She would not have been allowed to marry my father if anyone had known. My father, however, would have been left to continue his life as before.

Being the next child born, and a girl, I can only imagine that I was a disappointment and it explains a lot about how she raised me. She was disconnected, aloof, often angry, not encouraging or loving. She was always heavy … keeping a layer of protection around her. Please don’t get me wrong, she fed me, did my laundry, drove me everywhere. I didn’t want for anything. Except her love. None of this was my fault, of course, and I didn’t know that I was getting treatment that was different from my younger brothers or my peers. But it was different and I was scarred by it. (Thank God for therapy!)

I say this today because I realized recently that many of my friends on Facebook seem to miss their parents and were deeply loved by them. Sadly, I don’t have that same feeling. I’d love to have them back to ask them questions about why they did what they did. Why they kept the secret after we were adults. Why they never told me they loved me or were proud of me. (They really didn’t unless it was after a fight and then it would be, “of course we love you” said in anger and frustration.) My brothers had a different experience. Psychologically, I’m certain that it was because I was the first born “after the adoption” and I wasn’t a boy.

I was encouraged to find a husband and marry … that’s why a girl goes to college. I was born to have babies, that was where I would find happiness and fulfillment.  I was taught to iron and sew, to play the piano and guitar. I was given ballroom dancing lessons at Mary Jane Spencer’s. My peers were encouraged to pursue a career, told they could do anything that they set their mind to. I didn’t know that until I had children of my own … and had been in therapy for depression and a failing/failed marriage that lead to an ugly divorce.

img_0121.jpgToday I am happier. At nearly 60 I am feeling comfortable in my own skin. I am grateful for the life I was given and I know that my parents never meant to cause me harm. They did their best. Sadly, it wasn’t good enough to give me wings to fly. I had to find those for myself.

Today, one of the things that makes me happy is yarn. Everything around yarn. I love people who use yarn in their creative endeavors. I love the animals who provide the fibers and the process that leads to the yarn being available to buy. I love feeling it and working it into a garment. I love the shop keepers and the customers. I  am grateful for the shared wisdom of women and men who share my craft and the love of yarn. I love that I have found a wonderful man with whom to share my life. He loves me as I am even when I don’t.

Life hands you some bizarre twists and turns and I’ve learned that it’s all about what you do with them that makes you who you are. I am grateful for them all because I like where I am today. I wouldn’t be here without all those experiences. I’m strong and resilient and happy. I’ve started over many times and I’m sure I’ll start over again.

Speaking of starting over … I started something new yesterday.

IMG_3065Born out of frustration with the fit of my nearly-done Malabrigo sweater, and in an effort to use some of my stashed yarn, I cast on the Brambling Shawl.

The Brambling Shawl by Bristol Ivy was one of the projects in A Year of Techniques. It’s a study in Intarsia – the use of two colors in the same row. The yarn used in the pattern (and that I bought) is Fyberspates’ Cumulus. It’s a lovely blend of baby Suri alpaca and Mulberry silk. The project calls for five colors (camel, slate, plum, sea green and silver) and is worked from tip to tip with increases and decreases to make a triangular shawl. I’ve just gotten started and have yet to add the second color, but I love being able to learn a technique with practice.

So, tomorrow I will celebrate my husband who is a great father. Patient, loving and kind. I will also celebrate the fathers in my life, my brothers, uncle, cousins, and my own dad who did his best. He did teach me to love pistachios!

Gone knitting!

 

EEEEeeeee! (Yes, I’m excited!)

On New Year’s Day I got a phone call from my first-born. In a somewhat hurried but muffled voice, she said she was in a fancy restaurant and probably shouldn’t be on the phone but “Spencer just proposed” and she didn’t want me to “hear” about it on Facebook (because her friends can’t keep a secret). Wow! My “baby” is engaged. That means I’m going to have a kid who’s married! Thank God, she wants to be engaged for awhile so I can get used to the idea.

On the other hand, she’s so totally happy, I’m so excited for her.

IMG_1041In 1980 when I got married, I wore my mother’s wedding dress. Somewhere I have a formal photo of mom wearing the dress in 1957 and another of me wearing it in 1980 – but having moved a few times, I’m not sure where they are … and for obvious reasons, hanging one in my house now is out of the question. Anyway …

Kate is interested in wearing the dress when she gets married and I thought it was a good time to open the box and see how the dress had fared since 1980. With several moves and a couple of “floods” in homes along the way, who knew what condition I’d find it in.

But it’s still perfect.

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The veil is, too!

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I’d even forgotten that it’s ivory colored and that the Alencon lace is so beautiful. When I wore the dress in October I wanted to have long sleeves and a long veil. The lady who altered the dress did a beautiful job of matching the lace for the sleeves and the veil to the lace that was already on the bodice of the dress (from nearly 25 years before!) And looking at the dress, I am amazed and awed that I had such a tiny waistline! Ah, what three babies and some stress and age will do to the waist!

The extra bonus to this whole adventure was finding this on the box …

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In my mother’s handwriting, a piece of family history that so touched my heart. I wish she was here to share this happy event with us. My mother so loved her grandchildren and would be so proud and happy to see them today as the wonderful young adults that they’ve become. I am hoping that Kate will decide to wear the dress, will change it to make it feel like it’s really a reflection of her style and personality and that we can add another date to the box.

I’ll be carrying this precious box full of family history up to New York City when we go to meet Spencer’s family, to oooh! and ahhh! over Kate’s ring and to see her star in Rock of Ages on Broadway. Several proud mom moments all wrapped into one weekend. Lots of emotional moments to cherish and an opportunity to have all three of my children in one place even if only for a couple of days.

Exciting, terrifying, amazing …

Gone knitting!