Angry with Elizabeth Zimmerman

It's been awhile since I've been here; rather than 'lazy, hazy days of summer', July flew by, a hot blur of family, friends, ice cream and grilling. Fun, albeit tiring, niceness.

August is moving at more of an ooze, as it should. Every day we accomplish something, but not enough to call it work. Days topping out at 75 to 80 degrees are hard not to love, especially if they involve limearitas (my new favorite thing) with chips and salsa on someone's patio.

We'll be here in northern Idaho til mid September, then point the minivan towards Texas, which is now over 100 every day, and likely will still be stubbornly holding onto upper 90's when we pull into the driveway. She doesn't let go of summer easily. Along the 2000 miles of way, we'll drive through Colorado for another family reunion, then I'll stay behind for doctor checkups with my mom. They'll be challenging, and possibly frustrating, but a sad necessity we're thinking. Cub Sweetheart and Lily will continue on the way home alone, and I'll catch up with them via plane, a week or so later.

Which brings me to being angry.

This stage of life, where my mother pivots between denying and being completely ignorant of her situation, is hard. Harder than I think I would have thought it would be, if I'd seen it coming, which I didn't. Somehow I didn't expect this. Being raised by a mother who, for as long as I can remember, preferred writing a poem to cooking tuna casserole or doing laundry, made it hard to see that she was losing grip with daily life. When they don't use the stove anyway it's hard to see that they don't remember how.

Humor is needed. Lightness. Mental gymnastics with something other than keeping track of her dropping weight, having protein drinks shipped to her, going through a verbal game of charades every time we talk, as we struggle to find the words to communicate - what she's trying to tell me, what I'm trying to understand or get across to her. I'm sad for her. I'm sad for me.

So I'm going to relearn to knit. Rather than put my head in the sand (which many days calls my name hard) I'm going to occupy it, at least sometimes, with other things. Perhaps those times when everything in me wants to punch a wall or hang up the phone or sit down and have a good cry. Being a firm lover of new year's resolutions, I made one in January to improve my knitting skills. After over five years of knitting I'm pretty much still where I was soon after I began. I moved beyond making scarves for everyone I knew; there have been caps and a few baby sweaters, a toy or two. My one pair of socks that took about 200 hours. So I've got some knitting under my belt, but everything ends up a bit much for even non-perfectionist me to bear.

When I first learned to knit, which I did NOT want to do, it made me so angry Cub Sweetheart kept asking me, 'why do you do that? It makes you SO angry?' In my defense that was after I'd started and ripped out the same sweater SEVENTEEN times.

Something about the mental gymnastics grabs me, the trying to get my brain around something that does not come easily. Sort of like algebra, but with yarn.

I could pick up another knitting project, work my way through it, but I'd likely end up with a lumpy, uneven garment or more likely, an unraveled ball of yarn that was intended to be a garment. Instead I've decided to do the Julia and Julia thing. Instead of cooking through an old cookbook on a small stove in a smaller apartment, I'm going to work my way through Elizabeth Zimmerman's 'Knitting Workshop'. One chapter and one project at a time. No promises that I'll ever hit 'master knitter' but I might come out at the end of the book still sane. That's far more valuable than any fancy-schmancy sweater out there.

Ms. Zimmerman's book, and lessons, starts with winding a ball of yarn. Which I'm actually not that great at. It tends to make me grit my teeth and mutter under my breath, not always nice words. I think this would be same as Julie pulling her pots and pans out of the cupboard, and possibly purchasing measuring cups.

I'll be back in a few days, maybe, with a ball of yarn, and words regarding the lovely art of knitting. Once in awhile, when life gets too much, when it feels like my hair is on fire, I might dribble on about Alzheimers and dementia and caregiving; hopefully you'll hear more from me about dropping stitches or life or how I feel about capital punishment or the upcoming election process and why it has anything to do with Donald Trump's horrid hair. All with a humorous slant, of course, because life is way too short, or long - depending on how you look at it, to do otherwise.

Off to grab pointed needles!



Karen S. said…
I am so sorry about your Mom. I follow on IG so I've been in the loop. My own Mom passed unexpectedly at age 53, but we went through the same thing you are experiencing a few years back with my Mother in Law. My husband is almost 20 years older than I am, so she was actually the same age as my own grandparents. It was a sad thing to watch. I miss her so much! I have been knitting for about 15 years now. I started crocheting in the 70s when I was in middle school ~ home ec ~ I soon gave up. I just picked it back up earlier this year. I am hooked!!!!! With You Tube and some great blogs it is a breeze. It's somewhat easier for me to "vege" out because it's easy to memorize the pattern and just go. I am currently working on a granny stitch shawl. I also like that I can buy my yarn at the craft store. Ha ~ I don't think too many crocheters buy from the yarn store. I am also working on a knitting project, but I think my heart is now with crochet. Yes, poor Donald's
Karen S. said… again! I forgot to tell you about the yarn winder that I got from Amazon. It's a hand crank, but it goes fast and makes the neatest yarn cakes ~ under $20
Bev said…
Hello Karen, I'm ashamed to say I have a yarn winder tucked away in Texas that I've yet to take out of the package. I'll give it a try! My daughter is currently knitting a shawl (all the rage) but I think I've got a ways to go before that - perhaps after my Zimmerman lessons! I so wish I'd started knitting back when I was a teenager. Hopefully I can make up for lost time. Thanks for stopping by to say hello.
Linda said…
Oh Bev, I know EXACTLY how you feel. I said to my hubby just yesterday that I feel like my Mom (92) and Dad (95) have suddenly become my children. I feel such a loss - especially with my Mom. Gone are the long conversations about books, movies, deep spiritual matters and every other thing you can imagine. Instead we cover the same ground over and over again until I feel like my head will explode, all the while trying desperately not to say "You already told me that, Mom." (a thousand times).
These are difficult days. My parents are in an Assisted Living Apartment that my Dad lovingly refers to as "The Prison." Not happy campers - but absolutely not able to live on their own any more.
Knitting is like a catharsis for me. I find it so peaceful somehow. I hope you'll get to the point where it isn't frustrating for you. I'm not a master knitter by any means, but over the years I've gotten better.
I'm rooting for you and putting my arm around you in complete understanding. xo
Bev said…
Linda, I believe you do! Having parents 92 and 95, I can only imagine what you are going through. At least they are both at the same place, but it has to be exhausting to deal with both of them. Of everything you said to me, the part about feeling such loss, no more long conversations about ...... and instead we talk about depends, ensure, meals on wheels, how much she weighs, etc. etc. etc. over and over and over.

So today I'm grabbing a ball of yarn. My Knitting Workshop arrived and I'm praying that EZ helps me walk through this, one stitch at a time. I read the first few pages of her book and laughed out loud more than once, which is absolute soul soothing at this point in my life. Likely yours too.

thanks for taking the time to share, and the cyber hug; so much appreciated. xoxo

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