This is the scarf I started knitting a little over two months ago. Knitting? Well, not quite. Actually a new technique I fell for called Tunisian Crochet. For sure easier than knitting, and I really like how it looks. I had gotten the yarn at one of the places I scour for fun yarn, and I just loved the color scheme. I packed it in my bag to take to the hospital when Sandy and I were visiting Mama every day. As Sandy sat in the chair in the corner working away on her computer, managing business deals I could not even comprehend, I sat in the other chair, looking for something constructive to do. Something besides watching the stats screen or the respiratory screen (and calling out how many breaths she was taking on her own) or using my phone to convert Mama’s temperature from Celsius to Fahrenheit. (For goodness’ sake, who started that routine—I’m not even sure the nurses knew what constituted a fever on the Celsius scale.)
I finally pulled out the hook and yarn and got started. I love this style, I really do. I called over to Sandy, once more truly earning the nickname of “Interrupting Tara,” and showed her the beginnings of the scarf, “Look at this.”
“What are you making?” she asked, looking up from her computer screen.
“A scarf,” I said, tearing up. It had only been two weeks before that I’d finished my first scarf in this pattern. A green one. A really pretty, true green. For Mama’s birthday. After the last thing I’d made and given her late last year, she said, “It’s really pretty. You know, you’ve never made me anything green.” I really appreciated her saying that. I loved it when she gave us gift ideas. And besides she was right, and what was that about? Green was her favorite color. A true green, not chartreuse like I love. So I knew that the next thing I would make her would have to be green. I and my crew set out on the adventure of finding The Perfect Green for Maemae. Which we did. I even had to go back and get a second skein when I realized that one would not be long enough for her scarf. I finished it just a couple of days before Mama’s birthday. I found her a pair of khaki slacks that she’d been needing too. I was set. But that was the Weekthateverythingchanged. We didn’t celebrate on Tuesday, her birthday, because she was in a lot of pain and not feeling good at all. And my Kurt was running fever. We agreed to party on Friday, complete with Stevi B’s veggie pizza. Except on Friday I was sitting at Houston Medical with Mama, waiting for the ever-elusive ambulance to transport us to the Medical Center in Macon. To consult with Vascular Surgeons. And possibly to have VerySeriousSurgery for a potentially VerySeriousCondition.
Sandy sat up and stretched her back. She spoke to Mama, as we had been told that despite her not coming out of sedation as expected, she could hear us. “Mama, you hear that? Tara is making a scarf. It’s really pretty.”
A few days later, Sandy had had to return to Duluth, and I was sitting by myself in Mama’s room, missing Sandy, missing Mama, wishing for things to be very, very different. In the Cardiovascular ICU. This was before they moved her and things got so bad. The nurses were kind and patient and full of great stories. They were compassionate and they didn’t mind that the Joyner girls wanted to stay all day with their Mama. They not only allowed it, they encouraged it, never mind what the visiting hours sign said. They even encouraged us to be a part of her care, showing us little things we could do to make her more comfortable.
The scarf was coming along little by little, as I was having a hard time focusing. The skein had become a hot tangled mess. That is when I said, enough is enough and started winding it into this ball. And I sat thinking about how the doctors kept telling us to be patient with Mama not waking up from sedation—even though she’d been taken off the sedation and pain medications. As I untwisted the knotted mess and worked it inch by inch into a ball, waiting on the doctors to come in and give us their latest input, I said to myself through gritted teeth, “Let them come in here and tell ME I’m NOT patient. I’ll show them this mess and see what they think then.” It was just as I finished the ball that they came in with the latest. Once more, be patient, she’ll come around soon enough. I’m pretty sure that’s the day that Dr. A tried to do the Transesophogeal echocardiogram one more time. And Mama bit him. I laughed. I really think he was doing it more for the education of his posse he led around like they were his groupies than for her medical benefit. I should have spoken up. So when she bit him in her unconscious state as he was forcing it down her throat, I couldn’t help but think—go Mama! I tucked that story away to share with her later. With so many others. All those stories I planned to laugh with her over when she returned to us.
I think that might have been the last day I worked on the scarf. The next day Sandy returned to be with us for the weekend. The day after that chaos ensued as Mama’s cousin Miss Betty was admitted to the hospital in Warner Robins. The same day they moved Mama, without giving us a headsup, to the Surgical Trauma ICU—STICU, they called it. STINKU is the polite name we gave it. So the scarf was put away.
I pulled it out today. It’s a rainy day, perfect for reading or knitting or Tunisian crocheting…..and remembering as it turns out. I did one row, saw a missed stitch a couple of rows back, pulled it out and fixed it. I remember loving these colors, thinking it could be a birthday gift, but really feeling like I would keep it. The blues and browns are me and mine. As I sit and hold the ball and the beginnings of the scarf, I remember so much. The stories. The tears. The worries. The laughter. The gift of having my sister on this journey alongside me. The gift of having Mama with us. And of hearing her voice in my head, though she was never able to speak a word to us again.
I don’t know if I can finish this scarf. Silly, isn’t it? I don’t know what finishing it will represent. That the stories have faded? That the pain has lessened? That I don’t miss the sight of her face scrunched up in her “I love you” face language? I can’t answer that. I know I will need another skein to finish it, and for the life of me, I cannot remember where I got the first one. So, for now, I have tucked it away, with the stories and the brokenness. It can wait for another day.