Short Stories » Grandmother's Knitting
How still the house seemed on our return, and we felt that all was now done that could be done at present for grandmother! The great arm-chair in the cozy place between the center-table and fire-place, how solemn it looked; and the head-rest, one could not help touching it gently her silvery head would never rest against it any more ! How lonely it all was !
" Who was there now for the noisy boys to rush to with their wonderful statements of what had been done by themselves ? Where should wee Dollie go now for comfort and that comprehension of all her little troubles that came by an intuition, almost inspiration, in grandma? Who would now kindly inter- pose between the offender and justice with the authoritative assurance that ' they didn't mean anything wrong, it was all an accident ' ? Whose kindly interventions passed unresented by parental powers like grandma's? Whose 'bless you!' was so implicitly valued as hers ? and whose kisses so comforting ? No one else could draw out a splinter or tie up a cut finger like her, and what an inexhaustible store of things needful she always had convenient enough, when nobody else could find anything in the hurry ! Who was it divided up their share of the nuts and hard candies with the members who had sound teeth ? How she always praised those teeth and the red lips of the littie ones, without the slightest particle of envy ! Who ever knew a grandma to envy her dear ones anything in this wide world, even when she was deprived of those same blessings herself? Who ever forgave faults, even when repeated, like grandma? And as to story-telling, anyone knows that she could tell better ones than anyone else, and you always felt as though they were all true. And her singing ! what if her voice wavered and she would stop and say, 'Children, I can't sing ! ' what an utter rejection the very idea received. Grandma not sing, indeed ! You couldn't find anyone else who suited so well. It was lots better than that high-flight, scientific singing you had to keep so awful still about. Ask Tom and Bob and Dollie which they liked best. That settled it. But oh, dear, this silence, this stiff order, this lonesome, lost feeling that was just like a cramp about the breathing and the voice ! If grandma was here these blinds would go up, and the sun would shine in, and the bird would quit that dumpishness, and the cat would be playing bo-peep around the chair with Tip, the dog, and there would have to be a fire crackling in that stove instead of these dead ashes. What ails everybody else? It took grandma to keep things going. A boy might go off down street without anything around his throat and nobody else'd notice it. Grandma looked after a feller. Nothing looks natural all changed in these few days that seem like forever."
"What's that? It's grandma's knitting. How heavy it seems ! I wonder how her poor old fingers ever did such work; it would tire mine right away. And, oh, to think of the- hours and days and evenings that she knitted and knitted and knitted, and it didn't look like work, but it was! I can realize now for the first time how all our feet stepped lightly, and we never thought that knitting could tire anyone, it all looked so natural, and grandma would smile at the cat rolling and tangling the ball, and would seem so satisfied when another pair was done; how were we to know? "
" Yo,u'd have found out if you had tried it; that's the way. with girls."
" Dick, if grandma was here she would not like to have us disagreeing."
"Ah ! perhaps these slender, shining needles and this soft yarn that breaks so easily who knows they may have wrought the difference between her hands and those of younger ones. Of course grand- ma's fingers were once dainty and slender ; did that incessant knitting which grandmothers are always doing produce those enlarged joints and cramped fingers that for years were never straight, until she was at rest? Is it possible that we are to blame for the loss of their grace and beauty ? What a sacrifice ! Which of us would consent to become bent and crooked and isolated, immolating self for others ? Oh, we are horrid ! When wee Dollie sobbed, ' I don't think grandmas ought ever to die ! ' dear little heart, she thought only of our loss and not of the dear one's rest. Was there none to bring her fest but death ? And we who thought we loved her were letting burdens rest heavily upon her that we would not have borne, that we would have thrown aside. O life and youth and health, how careless thou art, how blind ! O wisdom, how lacking! Time, how vain thy teachings when her seventy years could not touch our careless hearts until too late! Put it away; that knitting will never be finished; the only hands that would have done it cannot, they are folded and at rest forever."