As we went deeper into lockdown, I became aware that my sister, Pauline, was missing her grandkids desperately. She had always loved children, qualifying as a sick children’s nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital in the 70s. After that she married and produced three boys of her own, but it seemed to take forever before the longed for grandchildren appeared.
Pauline was a huge encouragement to me years ago during a black period of my life. I’m not sure I’d have got back on my feet without her undemanding, dogged support. Time for me to help perhaps. It was simple enough. I merely encouraged her to begin a challenging crochet project to distract her and boost self esteem. This is Pauline’s version:
‘I needed a project during lockdown to occupy and challenge me, and my sister suggested Sophie’s Dream. One look at the design was enough. ‘No way!’ I’d never had much success with crochet.
However with her encouragement I sent for the book and some gorgeous yarn. The first square was a nightmare! With my nose stuck to the page and fingers contorted around tricky stitches I persevered, leaving a few mistakes behind. But by the time I got to the twelfth square I was racing along and only needed the pattern to remind me at the start of each row. I loved the therapy of watching the beautiful design form against subtle changes of colour.
I was missing my regular slots of minding my gorgeous grandchildren terribly, but then my own mother died in the fourth week of lockdown. We had not been able to visit her in the care home during this time and none of us was allowed to be with her as she was dying.
It was heartbreaking. She had given so much to her family and we weren’t there to offer comfort in her final days. Her God and her family were the most important things in her life. She prayed for each one of her seven children, fourteen grandchildren and nineteen great grandchildren every day right up to the end. Her life was spent unselfishly serving God and others. As she grew into her 90’s her main worry was that she could no longer be of use to anyone. But many people in her sheltered housing complex had visited her for comfort, advice and prayer. We miss her so much.
As I worked on my project it became a “bereavement blanket”, a memorial to my mum, with so many memories stitched into it. Now, every time I look at it or wrap it round me, it brings comfort.
Its good to think that this family-heirloom-type work of art can be enjoyed now and into the future by generations to come.’
I’m very conscious that it started with simple encouragement. St Benedict would point us to 1 Thessalonians 5:11 where it says: ‘Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing’.