“There you go you’ve got it” “D” said. She watched me closely as I learned to cast on and the stitches came together. I was knitting. I felt powerful. She taught me many things but that was the first. I was excited.
It was 1977. I was an awkward 13 year old. She was a fit trim and very professional 33 year old. She was my father’s second wife and that was the year my brothers, sister and I considered her our step mother.
She was the other woman three years before then. My mother had always accused my father of cheating even when he wasn’t so it came as less of a surprise when she found her suspicions confirmed. “D” was the final straw in an already broken marriage. My mother fled across the country and left her 4 children with my father, a man whose temper made him both abusive and unkind.
“D” was a strong woman. Her parents lived through the Great Depression and instilled their values on her She had younger siblings and had worked in her parent’s restaurant as a child performing very adult chores. Her family was poor and if she wanted to go to college she had to pay her own way. She worked her way through college and became a teacher. She didn’t stop there, she entered a Masters Program and met my father while she worked her summer job as clerk in the office of an associate of his (he was a lawyer). He brought her gifts until she agreed to go out to dinner with him. My father could be charming and to his credit he was persistent. To her credit she didn’t know he was married then. By the time she realized that she would be the other woman, it was already too late she was in love with my father.
My mother was not a stable person. Her emotional state had started to deteriorate by the time I was 8 and once she found out about “D” it was far worse. One day while my father was at work, she packed up her stuff and left us after calling her best friend. I was 12. Our Grandparents watched us for 2 weeks then my father moved “D” in to take over.
It was not an easy transition for “D” or for us. She was very strict like our father and sometimes unapproachable. she criticized my weight and did not like my attitude. I didn’t like that she was an apparent replacement for my mother or her criticism. My father and “D” had volatile arguments too which usually involved things being thrown at one another. There was much to be unhappy about in that environment.
But “D” didn’t give up and it wasn’t all bad for me. “D” spoke 4 languages, she was a seamstress, she crocheted, knit and she was a coupon shopper before it was a thing. She taught me more about cooking and making a meal last than anyone else ever did. She taught me how to survive on pennies which came in handy during the early years of my marriage and is coming back in style now. I resisted much of what she wanted to teach me. My teenage angst getting the best of me and I blamed her for my mother leaving. But somehow we connected through knitting. She bought me my first knitting needles that year and skeins of yarn. She patiently watched me as I did a slip knot and cast on the loops and complimented me on my first finished pattern which was a simple scarf. Knitting connected me to her in a different way than I was connected to anyone else.
When I was 14 my mother came back into our lives but her marriage to my father was over. My father let her stay in the house for another year and then she moved out into her own space. Since Mom had been the one to leave us, my father got custody of all 4 of us and “D” stayed with him a few more years but eventually my father true to form would tire of her and moved on to someone else. D and my father had been together for 10 years but had been married only a short time. I had already moved out of the house by the time “D” left my father for good. I was 20. I never saw her again.
I didn’t hear much from her after that. She and my dad had no children of their own, there was no reason for her to be close to us and I think she wanted to leave all the pain of her relationship with my dad behind. Many of their friends aligned with her and so we lost friendships we had with some of those families. I kept track of her whereabouts through family members who had some connection through her career. I tried to reconnect and spoke with her briefly but she really didn’t want to. So like that the stitches in that scarf that held us together the relationship became unraveled. Things got busy for me and I stopped knitting. I took up crocheting briefly and gave that up as well. I don’t know if there was any connection, it’s just that I didn’t feel like it.
Recently I started thinking about knitting a scarf and realized that I could no longer find my knitting needles. I did have crochet supplies and so began to crochet but I’m thinking of buying some at the local crafts store.
Last month, I read the obituaries and found out that “D” had passed away. She had outlived her family and never remarried after my father. The Obituary stated she was surrounded by many friends. Some of the names I recognized. I didn’t cry but I felt the loss. As soon as I have some money I’ll get those supplies and who knows….maybe I’ll knit a scarf.
via Daily Prompt: Knit