Monday, January 7, 2013

3 Topics: my mother, knitting and ageing.

The day after Christmas my family of origin, the Moorheads, got together at my brother's house for a simple meal and a time to reconnect. My mom told me the story of something that she and her friend  had been doing this year. They are both very prolific knitters. People know this so give them piles of balls of wool that they don't want anymore. Mom and her friend comply and make them into piles of usable items- mittens, socks, small sweaters and wooly hats. This year alone they filled  7 plastic Rubbermaid containers  (at this point she showed me with her arms how big the containers were) to be given to a charitable organisation. Then she said an important thing, " some people go to Iraq to make a difference, but others knit".. This is so, so true. I asked her how many pairs of mittens she had made this year. She did not really know- maybe 50, but that did not include the sweaters and hats, scarves and socks, all sent to keep other people who they don't know, warm.

This photo of my mom, Margaret, was taken a couple of years ago, with that year's crop of mitts etc.

I knit too... a bit. While I was in Sulaimani this time I knit two tiny hats and a teeny pair of socks. One was for our neighbour who's baby Nali, is now around 6 months old. The other was for my friend who will have her baby while I am gone. Her sisters-in-law told her that it was meant to be worn and not stored away in a safe place.

The bottle cap is to show you how little they are, just right for a newborn.

Lastly, I have some thoughts that I scribbled down while on a German train, heading to the airport after a week long visit with my daughter, J and her husband. It  too has a bit to do with knitting.

In a Train car from Bammental to Frankfurt Airport

I squeeze into a 2nd class compartment (it has 6 seats facing each other in a seperate room with a door) with only one other person inside, an older womean knitting a sock. I too knit socks- two socks on one circular needle instead of one sock on 5 needles like she was doing. I stir up my bravery to comment on her knitting and  point out my multi-coloured socks to her, knit out of lovely German wool. She nods and smiles.

She seems to think that I should lift my 20 kg suitcase high in the air up to the luggage rack. I convince her that the next station is mine and that the train is already moving, so the bag stays on the floor by my feet.

Then I sit, watching her. To my eyes she looks old, I think much older than I. But, I do remember that in my mind's eye I am still 25. Maybe  it doesn't help that I hang out with people in their 20's and 30's. We talk of things like falling in love and discovering their future and defining beliefs. These are not things that  52 year old women usually speak of- like grand kdis and retiring.

Certainly, I thought, I am not as old as her.

I also don't think it helps me when I sometimes receive comments from Kurdish people like, "my mom is 52 too, but she is OLD" . And my white hair shines forth- not covered by dye or a head covering. I think that it explains why I have been  asked if I am Swedish. I can hear them thinking, " that woman has white hair, but she does not mesh with my understanding of someone with white hair. She must be Swedish."

Then again, my hips feel very old when I sit for a meal cross-legged on the floor. Even the very old Kurdish women with black head coverings do not stifle a groan when they stand up, like I do.

Am I older or is my mind's eye correct? I did not ask the knitting lady how old she was so I will never know how I compare.