When the dam breaks and other viewpoints.


the following is part of a 20 day challenge to get into a better habit of blogging. Each day presents a new prompt. Today’s prompt was “Point of View,” write a post on the following scenario: A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write the scene from three different points of view: from the perspective of the man, the woman, and the old woman.

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There are family photo albums full of small, red sweaters. Each of my eight grandchildren have them. Now three great-grandchildren. My four children had their own. I remember my mother showing me how to knit, sitting next to the radio, listening to news of the war, radio shows now mostly forgotten. Oh, how the world has changed. Everything but the knitting.

I loved teaching my girls to knit, though I can’t tell you the last time any of the them did. Well, everyone except for Sue. Now a grandmother herself, I get the occasional e-mail photograph or picture flashed to me from someone’s cell phone. My granddaughters show no interest in learning. We old people and our slow ways are so easily dismissed.

The world moves so much faster now-a-days. I am not completely sure for the better. The knitting though is a constant. It has seen me through births and deaths, the loss of my Bill and when Robert died unexpectedly. My eyes fail me. I don’t know how much longer I will be able to live alone, or take the short bus ride to this park. Age has seeped into every bone. But I love sitting here, my small bag with knitting supplies next to me, the late summer sun warming and loosening my arthritic hands.

The birds chirp overhead. My hearing is sharp. Leaves rustle in a cool breeze. A couple approaches on the path to my left. They talk about a child, footsteps in unison, in love, but perhaps walking a bit too fast.

This sweater is for my great-grandson William. He is growing so quickly. His parents won’t let me call him Billy. “It’s William,” they say. Billy will be six months old by the time I give him this, his Christmas sweater. I stop to wonder, will I be around for Christmas this year? I hope so. It is my favorite holiday, when everyone gets together and comes sees me. Their presence reminds me how much of my story is weaved into them, and all of those tiny red sweaters.

It’s then I realize I hear a man weeping.

******************

He’s been the strong one this entire time. Quietly assuring me everything will be all right. He holds my hand tightly as we walk through the park, breathing in the cool air of a late summer day. The park is busy. We talk about everything but the surgery. It has been a long, nightmare journey to today. Emma has been out of post-op. She’s slipped in and out of sleep, glad to see us each time her eyes opened long enough to focus. The surgery was invasive and intense. Doctors were optimistic they removed all the tumor, and with it the cancer.

Our little girl, so ill so long. So much doubt, missed school, time with friends. So much uncertainty. So many hospital visits. But Jim always there, always steady. Once the doctors assured us everything with Emma was OK, Jim’s mother convinced us to take a walk, get some fresh air. How many hours have we been up? Waiting. Pacing.

The sun is warming, just enough. There is a particular glow to everything. A weight has been lifted. And there sits an elderly woman, knitting a tiny red sweater. Emma at one point was that small. Now maybe we can think about another child? Maybe one day I will be knitting sweaters for Emma’s children. A flood of hope rushes in where sadness and uncertainty once ruled. I try to rein it in. I squeeze my husband’s hand. “She’s going to be OK.” I look over. Tears flow down his face.

•••••••••••••••••

My baby girl is going to be OK. The doctors promised Wendy and I that. The surgery went better than anyone expected and Emma should be OK. It doesn’t seem real. I’ve held strong, for my wife and daughter and grandparents. It’s what I needed to do.

My mind is numb, hesitant to believe the horror of watching my daughter so ill is over after comforting and assuring everyone that she would be OK. This is not how I thought I would react.

My girl is strong, I would tell friends. I knew she would be OK, I told my wife that repeatedly. Over the past few months I’ve held both as they cried. Read my little girl stories as she lay sick in bed. Carrying her in my arms after treatments. “Shhh, everything will be OK,” I said as a mantra.

Now in the sunlight of this park, holding my wife’s hand the darkness actually lifted, the truth seeps in as I stare at a little old lady knitting a red sweater for a small child, both so seemingly delicate in this early fall air.

“Our little girl could have died. She could have died,” I say, finally able to acknowledge that possibility after the danger passed, shuttering slightly, crying uncontrollably, as my wife’s gentle hand reaches up and touches my face before we embrace.

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