Color her red
Sunday March 25th 2007, 4:48 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift

First, let me say that by a combination one particular day of chance and of decision on my part–and then hers–this woman and I became friends in an instant, and all was healed. Enough said: I don’t want anyone to realize, oh, her! It’s been 20 years and long gone.

We had just moved 3333 miles, as the moving company bills, and went to church for the first time in our new ward. We had moved from one that had 40 toddlers under the age of four to one that was mostly elderly people and had very few children of any age. Being in a strange place, ours, ages 11 months, 33 months, and just shy of five, were–well, reasonably good and not crying that first day, but not totally silent through the whole meeting, either. They were little kids, plain and simple. Actually, I thought they did a pretty good job of being quiet.

I of all people should understand, and do, what background noise does to make a meeting difficult to follow for older folks with any kind of hearing impairment. I have also learned that sometimes that’s just the way it is, after the hearing aids and the lipreading classes and the what-all-else. You learn patience.

Afterwards, a woman we had of course never laid eyes on before came up to us and gave us what-for for our having disrupted the meeting with our little ones, and ordered us to haul them out next time.

This was absolutely not your normal meet-the-new-folks greeting one encounters in a Mormon church! We managed not to say a stony, Welcome to the ward to you too?

Like I say, there’s a follow-up story, and she, who at the time, it turned out, was going through terrible things in her life that I have never had to go through, and I, eventually became good friends. It required a conscious looking for the good and wanting to move forward. But we both did.

But the flip side to that day, and the reason I tell the tale, is what came from it. It had been one of those moments that epitomizes how small children can be very unwelcome from time to time simply because of who they are, and the hugeness of that encounter in my life to me just then as a thoroughly-isolated stranger made a radical difference to me: I didn’t want any young mom to ever feel like I felt right then. Ever. I wanted every small child to feel treasured and welcomed. So when there’s a new mom at church, I make a point of celebrating her little ones. There’s always a smile and, should it be helpful, a knitted finger puppet in the purse to cheer them and charm their parents.

The last two weeks, there was a woman with a husband and a one-year-old who had just moved in, and I noticed her outfit: bright red, both weeks. Got that color in my stash, cool, so I knitted her a lace scarf from the ball pictured above. Today I gave it to her, putting it in her hands with, “This is just a little bit of cashmere and silk I made for you.” She was wearing a different dress this time, but again it was bright red; clearly a favorite.

She was stunned, she was delighted with the color, she was thrilled at having been noticed when she didn’t really know anybody yet, and thrilled that she mattered to someone enough that I would spend the time and that kind of fiber on her. Every emotion I had hoped she would feel in the moment I gave it to her, she felt. It was intensely gratifying, and a strong reminder of why I do this.

And I have to say, I am grateful that that older woman took out her frustrations on us, all that time ago. Because of how important it made it to me to actively do the opposite. And especially because I know that now, she would want to be having that same positive effect herself; she grew and changed over the years and became a much happier person. And that is something to celebrate most of all. I am so glad and so relieved that I did not lose myself in my hurt and turn away from her and the possibilities she had to offer of friendship after all.

5 Comments so far
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What an amazing and sweet thing to do! I think the more good energy we put out there, the better the world becomes. And I love, love, love that color!

Comment by Christine 03.25.07 @ 8:39 pm

Yes! And how many people have a hobby that makes it so they can give of themselves the way knitting does. It doesn’t have to be a 200-hour project (although those are wonderful.) Just one skein of yarn, a lace pattern to stretch the yardage as far as it can go, and a chance to make someone feel cared about.

Comment by AlisonH 03.25.07 @ 8:50 pm

Thank you for the story. Thank you for taking the time to remember, to notice, to grow and change, to knit, to give, and to smile.

Comment by Karin 03.26.07 @ 9:16 am

That’s a powerful statement, Alison. We tell our kids that the people around you (parents, neighbors, friends, church members) shape who you will become, based on how they relate (or not) to you. But ultimately, who you become is your choice. You either choose to be “just like” someone, or you choose to be “nothing like” someone else. Either way, it is a choice we all make, consciously or not. So, hooray for your choices! May they help to spur upcoming generatons to be generous and graceful. I think they already have.

Pam in Ohio

Comment by Anonymous 03.27.07 @ 6:44 am

Thank you. And to think, I ordered that yarn several years ago, and when it arrived, I groaned at the color: well, obviously, I was never going to use this! Ever since my car accident, too much of very vivid red or intense orange shades too close to me, especially if it’s moving around close to my face, makes me lose my balance.

I gave away all my red clothes. I gave away many of my red yarns. My right eye was normal but my left eye registered the bright parts of any scene before them as being closer than the dull bits, the two eyes struggled to reconcile the whole thing, and bright red–the body just said oh forget it, and threw me overboard. Still does, though not as much.

So when this yarn came and it was much more intense than the calmer color it had looked on the screen, I thought it was a mistake. But it wasn’t. It was just waiting for its moment. (Now, goodness, how do I explain to that young woman that her clothes could make me fall down? You don’t, you just hold onto the cane firmly and enjoy being able to burn all those extra calories just holding still as you wobble…)

Comment by AlisonH 03.27.07 @ 9:57 am

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