I heard myself saying earlier this week that “there’s nothing about cold weather that makes me happy. Absolutely nothing.”
“I hate everything about it,” were the words coming from my mouth. “Too much clothes, numb feet, frozen hair spray, the vehicle has to run, the windshield has to be scraped . . .”
If there was something bad to say about cold and snowy weather, I said it.
Later that night, I was putting clothes in my closet when I spied it. I had forgotten.
Hanging on a hook attached to the wall was a Wal-Mart bag with squishy contents.
“Oh, my scarves!” I exclaimed and suddenly found there was something about cold weather that does make me happy.
Ah, yes — happiness on a hook.
I grabbed the bag and brought it into my arms for a big hug. It was soft . . . and just what I needed, thanks to one of the most cherished people in my life.
The one good thing about cold and snow outside?
The opportunity to wear Grandma Cassie’s creations.
My husband’s grandma was one of my favorites. When she came into my life, so many years ago, I knew instantly that not only was I lucky but maybe even destined to love her. She was fiery, funny and feisty. She said whatever was on her mind, meant exactly what she said and didn’t beat around the bush.
I think the first thing I ever did for her was nervously dish up some vodka slush for her and Grandpa Mark, while hoping the fashionista liked my outfit. The first thing she ever did for me was make the best chicken gravy I’d ever eaten while telling me she liked my skirt.
I always felt we sort of had parallel lives. She had to raise her three younger sisters, I had the same experience. While the circumstances and times were different, the difficulty was mirrored. We often talked about the stresses of being thrown into that uncharted water in which we somehow stayed afloat.
She was married to her soul mate, Mark, as I am to their grandson. Both of us were fortunate to find wonderful men. I marveled at the tight connection between the two — even though age and illness crept into their relationship, their friendship and undying love remained the same. My face would hurt from smiling as I watched the two joke with each other over a game of cards and care about what the other ate as we passed food around the table. My soul was sad as I watched her tearfully say good-bye to her guy and prepare to move on to the next phase of her life alone.
I was envious of her incredible ability to create things. She was a master when it came to knitting and embroidery. What a blessing it was for her — especially during her first days of living alone and coping with sickness of her own. That craftiness was a way for her to keep her spirit alive, her mind and hands occupied, a way for her to share her love with those around her.
Well, she really shared the love one particular winter, many years ago. It was a cold winter, which made it difficult for her to get out as much as she wanted to. So began the knitting/crocheting marathon.
When she told me she had “some scarves done,” I had no idea that the volume would rival a Salvation Army clothing drive. We suggested that I try to sell some of them, in order for her to pay for the yarn and maybe make a little spending money on the side. She bestowed upon me bags and bags of beautiful scarves. They were of varying lengths, colors, textures; but they all had one thing in common . . . they were created by her hands. Although each was different than the next, they all had the intricate detail and patterns that had become Cassie’s trademark.
“Be sure to pick out a couple for yourself,” she instructed.
That was the hard part. I wanted to make sure I took the ones I liked best, but quickly realized that if this was to be the case, there would be none to sell. I couldn’t make up my mind.
I took a few and packed up the rest for my marketing venture. Over the course of the next few weeks, I found myself soliciting every female I knew — they, too, marveled at the workmanship, the variety of hues. As I collected the cash, I worried because there were still at least a dozen I feared I’d have to part with.
The husband offered a simple solution — I should just buy them for myself. Why hadn’t I thought of that? The shopping spree ensued as I removed the best of the best from the pile and determined they would be mine forever.
Cassie was thrilled with the cash she earned from her hours of work and I was ecstatic that I had a different scarf for every day of the month from the Cassie Collection.
Years later, I shared some of those scarves with my nieces, so they can enjoy their great-grandma’s art too.
But you better believe I still have a few.
So, this week, as I pulled the treasures from the simple plastic bag, I hung each on the hook so as to better admire it. Blue, gray, red, maroon, purple, beige, black and white striped, sprinkled pastels and even pink. They were soft and warm, fashionable and functional.
The best part was that just by running my hands over the soft, woven yarn, I felt as though I was standing there with Cassie. I could picture her sitting in her extremely-decorated apartment boasting all things Christmas — knitting more pieces of wearable art.
Sure, I could barely see the neighbor’s house across the street because of blowing snow Monday night. But I was warm and thankful— not just because someone I loved had taken the time to make something so wonderful, but because she loved me back at all.