Little Home, Big World

…what would Ma do?

Muscle Memory February 15, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Writing — bethanyjoy @ 8:50 pm
Tags: ,

“It’s this damn stroke,” she says, with an emphasis on the “damn” that my generation lacks. Pursing her cherry-lipstick mouth, she sits up a little straighter – her posture already puts mine to shame – and smoothes a hand over her well-ironed slacks. “I was never sick a day in my life, until two years ago.”
I don’t ask, but she must see the curiosity on my face because she adds, “I’m ninety-two.”
“So you used to knit a lot, before the stroke?” I ask, steering us back to the reason she’s sitting here with me in the quiet little shop where I work.
“I knit almost everything in the Mary Maxim catalogue, even those awful sweaters that my daughters wanted.” Frustration tugs the corners of her bright lips down. “But I can’t remember a thing now.”
I start with a simple, step-by-step demonstration of the knit stitch, explaining each step. She has me repeat it a few times, watching intently. “Does it look familiar?”
“No.” She takes the needles and yarn from me almost reluctantly.
I talk her through a stitch – needle in, yarn around, pull it through, slide it off.
She’s concentrating so intently, she doesn’t notice another customer casually wander past. Every bit of her attention is focused on  two shiny needles and fuzzy purple wool, as if they represent her personal Everest. Her hands are surprisingly steady, and she executes each step of the next stitch with periods:
Needle in.
Yarn around.
Pull it through.
Slide it off.
Brow furrowed, she suddenly changes the way she’s holding the yarn, wrapping it around her age-spotted hands like a version of cat’s cradle that only she knows.
And then she’s knitting.
I watch, mesmerized, as the needles flash and click, stitches flying rapidly from one to the other. She looks up at me, embarrassed. “I’m making a mess of this, aren’t I?”
“No!” I resist the urge to get up and happy-dance, and instead smile so big my cheeks hurt. “You’re knitting faster than I can.”
“But I don’t remember how,” she protests.
“Your hands remember.”
Surprised, she looks down, and stares. “That’s knitting?”
“That‘s knitting.”
“Well.” Baffled, she glances up at me,  and as she does her hands move confidently, almost of their own volition, stitches forming in perfect rhythm. “Isn’t that the damnedest thing?”

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One Response to “Muscle Memory”

  1. theboardbitch Says:

    that’s sweet!


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