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Home : Community : Customer Gallery : My Mother's Gift

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My Mother's Gift
Created By: Marianne Restel

My mother, Bjorg, a Norwegian immigrant who met my first generation American-Croatian father (from the then Yugoslavia), taught me how to knit. She taught me sometime before tragedy took away everything she enjoyed. She must have taken great patience to teach me "continental" knitting, holding the yarn over my left finger. I was six years old when a lightening strike put her into a four month coma.

Expected to be in a persistent vegetative state, my father noticed that she watched "I Love Lucy" but not football, or other shows she did not like.

He realized there was more inside and this being back in the early 60's with no physical therapists around, lifted her out of bed and with another friend, started walking her around the hospital. She gradually regained consciousness, and was able to get around, feed herself and do other activities of daily living. My dad decided to send her, with me along, to Norway, where he thought her rehabilitation would be facilitated by being with her mother, father and in her native country.

So, I went to first grade there for the second half of the year. As many young children do, I was able to pick up the language, and when I came home, as my father says, all I could say in English, was "hello, Daddy." (Needless to say, it didn't take long to get back the English).

Well, my mother regained some abilities, but had too much spasticity in her hands to knit. She had played bridge, golfed well, had many friends, and had knit me beautiful Norwegian sweaters and hats.

This was all taken from her, as well as her short term memory.

And my loss was my mother--emotionally, but not physically. She was no longer able to nurture me in a motherly way. As many people with brain injury have, she had rages, and because of her short term memory loss, was very difficult to live with.

The tragedy was many fold to her, because she lost her daughter's love. And she lost her hobbies and her many friends abandoned her. All but one who to this day corresponds with me at Christmas. She made sure I continued in my Christian upbringing. And my

aunt mothered me in the way that my own mother could not.

So, I don't remember learning how to knit. I have always been able to knit, as far as I can remember. All I know is that she taught me and gave me a gift I now cherish.

It was a hobby that kept me awake through conferences, helped me unwind from work, has been my

other therapy, and now is much more than a hobby.

I didn't have difficulty making friends in college or graduate school, but I had difficulty making friends later, as I went through many depressive episodes, which were later diagnosed as bipolar depressions, and were treated successfully enough to allow me to work, and do my work well. And to mother my children in the way that my aunt mothered me.

But I now have a friends support system I have never had. Knitting was always an alone activity, an after work hobby. Now I have knitting friends who encourage me and challenge me (and "sadly", enable me to buy too much yarn, and create a stash).

Creativity with colors, with cables, with lace, having friends, knitting as therapy and as enjoyment. This is my mother's gift.

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