Monday, February 15, 2010


There is something very mixed up about love... about how I show it. I tend to play it one of two ways. Either I express myself liberally, with emotional abandon, or I stay quiet and still. And sometimes when expression and emotion are most deserved, most true, I am most restrained. Very polar opposite. Very much confounds me.

And sometimes these two poles do what magnets cannot. They come together. My quiet, private love wants to come out in to the open and declare itself, which is how I wind up with obtuse posts, like this :: Personal, yet public. Emotional, yet restrained. Undeclared, and composed.

My heart is heavy for friends, and for family. This has been a difficult week. Those loved ones that I hold dear, may be far away, but the sadness I feel is close, heavy, and tangible.

When Maria was a baby her great-grandmother Marjorie sent her Emily, a doll she knit herself, a doll that has become one of Maria's favored babies. Emily arrived with a soft pink smile and charming details, like bows, and ruffled sleeves. It is the kind of doll that maybe should have been put on a shelf, protected against use. But Maria took such an immediate liking to her that we let her love her baby doll. She has loved Emily liberally, with hugs and proximity.

The love shows. Emily's dress has a small stain, so do her pantalettes. The yarn in her black hair got a small snag, and she is covered in little bits of yarn fuzz... what are those called... the little balled up dust threads that cling to sweaters? Then came the tragic day when Emily's smile came undone. Maria cried. She really cried. She was devastated, even a bit horrified.

You would think I would have done anything in the world to fix it. Fix it right away. But I didn't. I meant to. I meant to find a matching thread and a very wide eyed needle. I meant to take away Maria's disappointment and mend the loose threads, but I kept putting it off with all the usual excuses... packing, cleaning, errands, moving, moving, moving, unpacking, holidays, other plans and other projects. It isn't that I do not love Emily, and Maria, and Marjorie, and handmade gifts. I love them. I thought about Emily all the time, and I felt pangs of regret every time I put off making her all better. I loved quiet and still, when I should have loved liberally, aloud and declared. With words and actions. Delivered. Mended.

I am sad. I am disappointed in myself.
It's not just about the doll, obviously.
She was so easy to fix. And yesterday, when I stumbled upon my small crochet hooks, I did not realize that they would be exactly what I need to get the job done. And today it seems so poignant.

I pulled the embroidery floss through, making a new smile with the same thread that Marjorie used when she knit Emily. She made Emily. It never ceases to amaze me that she could make yarn in to such a sweet gift, a gift which I know is reflection of her love, her thoughtfulness, her way of living. Maria watched me and was very pleased to see Emily's smile returning. She held my arm as I tugged the threads through and finished, and Maria, said, "Won't she be glad that Emily is all better?"

I am not at a loss for words, but I struggle to put them in order, make them match my thoughts and emotions. I am sorry that Marjorie is gone. I am sorry I never returned to Ontario, to be in her company, to enjoy the beauty of the place she called home.

I am profoundly grateful that I knew Marjorie, that she kindly shared her home with me. I am grateful she raised three sons, that she painted and knit. I am grateful for the kindness she exuded, her quiet grace. I am grateful for the way her love and loving example reached her children, her grandchildren, her daughters-in-law.
I think of strength and gentleness, I think of inner peace and confidence, when I think of her. I think of the shore of the Lake where she lived and feel respect for her choices, for her wisdom.

Because of the son she raised, I have known the loving care of a father. When I reflect on this realization, I am deeply moved. I am sad. She made a good life, and I would like to think I could still sit beside her, that her family could enjoy her company. I am encouraged too, because a good life is admirable, perhaps rare, and I had the great honor of being a witness to her very good life.
Thank you Marjorie, your life has been a blessing to me.


Lesley said...

Nicely mended! And such a lovely doll.

nikkipolani said...

What a wonderful gift -- a small pink smile on a doll that matches the little pink smile on Maria! By the way, we've always called those "balled up dust threads" bally ballies. May be even a technical term.

tara said...

What a treasure.
I think those annoying balls are called pills.

Tiglizzyclone said...

That is so sweet! I love those kind of dolls!

Tracy said...

Lovely saving/mending, the pink "lipstick" for the sweet dollie's smile. :o) Such a heartwarming post... ((HUGS))

judy in ky said...

You've put a smile on my face, too.

Laura Jane said...

Yep to the 'pilling', one de-pills a sweater.

And YAY to the renewed smile of a loved dolly.

Knew you could do it....

Leigh said...

Poignant story with a happy ending. That last photo says it all!

Ulrike Grace said...

What a wonderful picture of hands on love from both you and grandmother...your little Maria will have a myraid of memories to carry her through the years and recount to her own little "Maria's." Thank you for reminding us in a tangible way how showy love can really be day to day.
Ulrike Grace