Thursday, November 11, 2010

Yesterday can fairly be called, more than most, the first day of the rest of our lives.

C. is conscious and responsive, and the surgeons are pleased with their work. Our niece hasn’t been able yet to talk to the surgeon who did the operation, so information is a bit vague and generalised. C. has had an iliostomy, a new word to me, but one of the advantages of a classical education turns out to be the way it helps one with the ambushes of medical vocabulary in old age.

Rachel’s father-in-law, not all that long ago, died without recovering consciousness after his cancer operation, and the same thing happened, two generations ago, to my maternal grandmother. Both patients lingered for some weeks in a comatose state. So that’s what I was afraid of, until the telephone call yesterday morning. And we’re successfully over that hurdle.

Our niece, who has had a very tough week, sounded low and tired last night. She had just got home from the hospital. Her mother had seemed fragile and slightly confused. No wonder, after such an ordeal. The plan is that my husband and I will visit tomorrow. Alexander will come over soon.

I got the shawl pinned out, and am rather pleased with it, assuming those scallops stay flat when the pins come out. I see I haven't got that central double-scallop pinned quite straight.

I also finished the knitting of the Japanese hat last night -- again. I think the length I have added has solved the size problem. There’s still the tidying up to do, and the pom-pom, and the braids, and a cautious attack with the steam iron to persuade the earflaps to stop flapping upwards.

I am glad to see earflap hats in the streets again, now that the weather is getting into its stride. Perhaps, of course, the people I see are not the glass of fashion and the mould of form but just prudent souls who have thrust last-year’s protection onto their chilly heads.

All this distress and anxiety has left me feeling (as often, I think, in a crisis) that there is not much point in walking around Drummond Place gardens and refraining from yarn-buying and cider-drinking when death bides on us momentlie. Illogical. But anyway, it is November, and I have been very good for a whole year, and I am much inclined to think I might buy the yarn today for Martin Storey’s “Traveller scarf” in the current Rowan book.

It would fit into my Christmas plans. It would be expensive.


  1. Dear Jean,
    An interesting post about life and growing old (and gardening).

    Glad to hear SIL came through the op and is holding on. Still keeping you all in my thoughts.

  2. Best wishes to your family in these difficult times.
    Maybe seizing both the day and expensive yarn is a perfectly suitable response to crisis.

  3. Anonymous12:26 PM

    Dear Jean..... as your classical education would tell you, "Carpe diem." My husband and oldest son both worked in one of the World Trade Center buildings (#7, which collapsed in the afternoon of 9/11). We had many plans for "later," and after that day we realized that later might not come for us. Traveling, spending time with family, doing the things we dreamed of, and yes, buying yarn, became things we did consciously, not mindlessly. I now buy any yarn I want to use NOW, and feel no guilt. But I no longer mindlessly buy yarn for future "someday" use. And we sold our house to move closer to family, and we spend our extra money on memories (trips, exhibits, visits, flights to see extended family) because we realized on that day what really mattered to us.

    Of course, the memory fades, and we find ourselves slipping back into old habits. But then something happens, as it has with you, and we hear the story and remember to do what is important, and to do it TODAY..... because you never know if tomorrow will come for you or those you love. Thank you for sharing the sorrows as well as the joys of your life.

    Barbara M.

  4. Jean,

    I think cancer, and the awful agonizing wait that goes with it is especially pernicious. I have had family members die suddenly, of heart attacks, accidents, etc... and it is nothing like the awful waiting that is cancer (sudden death has its own difficulties, I understand, but it is so final. No lingering. Anyway..)
    One of my closest friends from grad school was diagnosed with cancer.. for the second time... last year. Turns out he had it as a child, and it recurred when he was 34. The news at the time hit me like a brick wall, and then there was that awful waiting, for the surgery and the radiation.... as it turns out they got all the cancer and at the moment he is okay and in remission.

    At a mutual friend's wedding last summer, I finally got a chance to see him (we live on opposite sides of the country)- when we spotted each other we practically jumped into each others arms and hugged and hugged- I held onto him like I never had before-- you would have thought that we were something like long-lost lovers-- but no, just to hold him and know he was okay and to smile and laugh with him was grace itself.

    So life is short, but I like to think that it is often sweet... I agree with Barbara, seize the day...

  5. Gerri2:54 PM

    yes, thanks for all the reminders and clarity. "Life is short; make it wide."

  6. Very interesting and moving comments. I've followed Dawn's link to the book about growing old and vegetable growing. Another book to add to my ever-growing list.

  7. The shawl is looking wonderful. It is certainly important to have satisfying occupation at times of crisis, as there will be anxious periods to fill no matter what.

  8. I bought some yarn the other day. I did not need it but I liked it and I know someone else who will also like it when I have had the pleasure of knitting it.
    Does it matter that I already have what some might consider to be "too much" yarn? No, we can still make sensible decisions but they should not be taken at the expense of enjoying life and helping other people do it.

  9. That's a beautiful shawl! Does it wrap around like a Faroese? Or does it behave like a triangle?