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Of Knitting Needles And A Mother's Touch
by sheryl joy olaño
05/12/06
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Time went by…ever so slowly as the knitting needle rolled smoothly across the glass-topped roundtable. A heavy sigh escaped from pouting lips…mine.

The object and cause of disappointment was sprawled motionlessly on my lap. The string of green that must have gone through World War II seemed to taunt me. Why I couldn’t get it right, I didn’t know. It looked so easy when my friends were doing it.

Simple knitting, Sheryl! I scolded myself. How could something so simple be so complicated?

I knew it was silly being so crestfallen over inanimate objects as if the whole world depended on it. But I wanted to learn the craft. When I saw Meeyan knitting one afternoon with her hands doing a tiptoe dance like those of a ballerina’s feet, I was enamored by such grace.

So there I was late at night trying to knit and shaming the women race. Then Mom came in the kitchen. I colored at the surprise on her face as she asked me why I was still awake.

Sheepishly I told her and regretted it when she burst out laughing. It was clear in her laughter that she thought I was being ridiculous. Yet, her eyes sparkled with something like pride.

Even simplicity, she said, needs to be defined.

She took the needle and the yarn (which both betrayed me and tripped my hands in their dancing) and showed me how to really knit. When she let me do it, I was still a hopeless case. Yet it only made her smile more.

At last, I got it right. The yarn was already in a splice, in a cleaner chain compared to the confused nest I made earlier.

Mom stood up and hinted that I keep practicing. Before she left, she told me, “Life is full of false starts and new beginnings, of failures before success, of tripping and falling. What matters is that you get up in every fall, learn in every mistake and never stop trying until you get it right. While there is room for mistakes, there is room for improvements and, just think, a house of learning.

My mother could have been a great teacher. I remember back when I was seven years old and still could not read. When she found out about it, she was so angry; she scared the hell out of me. Being a topnotcher herself in her youth, she was insulted.

I didn’t know how she did it but overnight she had turned me into a fluent reader. Uhm…okay, there were lots of spanking and pinching (my eyes still water at the thought of it). But it was worth it.

Perhaps I already had it in me but did not know it because I did not care. Why I did not care? Because I was not interested. And why? Because I thought I could never use it. All I cared about was playing. But my mother changed that. She opened one window by teaching me how to read, and lots of doors opened for me since then.

A sigh came out again…but this time of swelling pride and contentment. My thoughts went from the glaring eagle eyes of a hardened face that made me cower at mere sight…to eyes that shine with wisdom from a face gentled by years.

Mom, you’re simply the best, I thought. Then I went back to knitting.

Oops…there’s the mistake again!

I struggled for a while…then went on with my progress.


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