Remembering Mom

I didn’t want to share sad news on my birthday pattern post, but for those of you that like to keep up with what is happening, there has been a milestone in my life. My 80 year old mother passed away the morning of the 12th of October. She died from complications from Covid19. But even before this sad event, we had lost our mother a piece at a time over the past 15 years. My mom had Alzheimers, and was often confused about who we were the past couple years.

She is the one that first placed a crochet hook in my hand, and was an amazing knitter, though she never taught me to knit. In the last year or so she could no longer remember how to crochet or knit. She could still wind a ball of yarn and the folks at the facility where she lived would often give her yarn to wind, she would even teach other residents how to wind the yarn.

Now, you would assume that with Mom teaching me to crochet that she would have been excited about my career choice of the past 10 years. Sadly that is not the case, my mother and I had what one might call a “difficult” relationship. I could never figure out if it was because we were too similar or too different.

Our similarity is striking for those that know both of us. I look a great deal like her and have the exact same voice. When I visited her 20 years ago in the town she had moved to in Northwest Kansas, I would walk into a local shop on my own and the people there would say, “You must be Wilha’s daughter.” She would jokingly say, “You poor thing,” when people would say I looked like her. She didn’t like the way she looked, but I’ve always thought my mom was beautiful and was happy people saw her in me.

One of our biggest differences is my habit of saying “What If”. I always annoyed my mom because I would change patterns all the time, whether it was crocheting or sewing. I always saw a different way I wanted to do things. I think that meant I was destined to be a designer. Once I started getting my crochet designs published, mom would offer criticisms no matter what I created. It wasn’t until years later that I found out she was always showing her neighbors and friends my published work and bragging about me.

Mom on the left laughing with her friend Isla.

Mom and I had some great times together though. She could make me laugh so hard. When we would get to laughing it would go on for 30 minutes or more. Sometimes it would be the silliest things that would get us going and then we couldn’t look at each other or we would start up again.

We went on a trip to Tucson, Arizona together when I was 5 months pregnant with my first child. She was running a T-shirt booth at a music festival and I went with her to help. One evening I lay down on the bed in our hotel room and couldn’t get up because of my baby bump. We both were laughing so hard she couldn’t help me get up.

When I moved to my home in the mountains we stayed in touch with monthly 3 – 4 hour phone calls. We both loved the Fire Mountain catalog and “Bead & Button” magazine, when the newest version came in the mail we would call each other and page thru it together. In her 50s she had taken up bead weaving, something I used to tease her about because threading those fine needles was a complete pain. We had many a chuckle about how you had to hold your mouth just right to thread a needle. I often laugh to myself when trying to thread a needle myself these days, because I hear her voice.

She grew up on farms and ranches in Kansas and Texas. Sometimes she would joke that she learned to ride a horse before she learned to walk. She loved horses right up to the end. I had sent her a pop-up birthday card with a herd of horses in it for her birthday this year. She also adored dogs. The photo above is Mom with her Sarah Dog at my wedding. I had the startling realization this week that I am now the same age as my mother was on my wedding day.

I designed my “One Skein Joy Slippers” because I wanted to make her some warm slippers for Christmas a couple years ago. When I was growing up, every Christmas morning there would be new slippers under the tree for each family member. Mom was an amazing knitter, but I wanted to relive that Christmas feeling with a crocheted version of the slippers.

It has been a big adjustment to know my mother is no longer in this world, but I comfort myself that she is now free of pain and confusion. Someone said to me a day after Mom was gone that she is watching over me, if that is the case I’m sure she is trying to get my attention to give me “constructive criticism” on my latest designs. Rest in Peace Mom, you were definitely one-of-a-kind.

Note: I’ve been a bit delayed getting this post up. This past weekend 2 wildfires took off very near where I live and my family and I had to evacuate to stay with my sister-in-law. We are currently waiting out the fires and hoping for a quick resolution. Things are a bit hairy, but I took a lot of yarn and my computers with me. I don’t have my usual arsenal of props and so forth, but I hope to continue with my design and blogging work while we weather this latest surprise 2020 has thrown at us.