When gift-giving occasions loomed, my father was a difficult man. The problem was that he just didn’t seem to want anything. He was content with what he had. Normally, that’s a totally awesome quality, but at Christmastime it was just frustrating. I think I gave him a fair number of perplexing gifts over the years, including ties (because my father was also not a fashionable man, but he would have been considerably less fashionable had my mother not mostly taken all clothing purchases in hand for him — she could coach me at Christmas time on what he needed). I also remember giving him a camp toaster (has anyone ever used one of these? Because really, they seem like such a stupid item I can barely believe I’ve heard of them, much less purchased one), replacement jigsaw blades (yay! fun!), and an electric edger (although it was my assigned chore to edge the lawn, ahem). He would open the presents, say “Oh!” and admire it and thank the giver for it appropriately. But I knew I never really hit the mark with any of that stuff. The only things he really liked to receive were hand-made.
TA-DA! In the past few years, I’ve become a knitter. A frequent knitter. That doesn’t mean I’m exactly hunting for recipients for my hand-knit items (I could just knit for myself and be happy. Memememememe.), but it did mean that I had a skill that could translate into gifts for my dad that would be really well received. The only problem was that my parents live in Texas, where a woolly scarf is not exactly a priority. But when my dad got sick five years ago, he was suddenly cold all the time, even in the middle of the hot, hot summer. This was not good news in general, but it was good news in the restricted sense of making my father now an ideal knitwear recipient.
So I knit him a pair of socks, first, I think. My mother said she had to bug him to take them off so she could wash them. Success! I knit him another pair, and then a hat. Then I didn’t knit him anything for a bit. Last February, when I visited for his 75th birthday, I promised him another pair of socks. I was slow, very slow, in getting them underway and slower still in making progress. I took them to Texas with me, but couldn’t knit in the ICU because we had to wear rubber gloves while in the room. Then my father died. Among other things I didn’t know, I didn’t know what to do with the unfinished socks.
These socks are emblematic of several things to me now — our unfulfilled plans, my lack of attention to the relationship at times, the consequences of my procrastination, the way he appreciated my handwork, simply my love of my father (it’s hard on the eyeballs to knit with black yarn!).
And something else they’ve been emblematic of these past handful of weeks — my uncertainty about what to do next, from moment to moment: Act casual? Cry? Write something on the blog? Bake?
I’ve made one little decision — I’ve decided to finish the socks. I will just knit, them, every stitch, just like I will just live every day. At the end of the stitches, there will be a pair of socks finished. At the end of each day, that will be another day of my life lived. I don’t know yet what I will do with the socks when they are done, but I will just not worry about that right now, like I will not worry about whether I should cry or bake or act casual or whether it’s okay to go back to chattiness and talking about regular life, like the fact that I’m learning to ice skate along with my son. The fact that it’s really fun, and I feel a little guilty about having a lot of fun like that, and also that it makes me sad because I would totally be telling my dad all about it if he were still alive and I wonder if he skated at some point in his life. And I would also like to tell him about the porcupine I saw last week (they really aren’t hurrying animals — the books are right — and they are really large), and the five fat wild turkeys I saw today. And the beautiful drive between here and Canton that he would have loved to see too. And now I’ve told y’all that stuff.
I will decide that kind of thing each day. Just like knitting each stitch.
Read Full Post »