Sunday, 11 September 2011

A dear friend in

America is dying. Sue has a matter of weeks to live. She was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer over two years ago and has fought it hard ever since.
I first "met" her when I put a request up on a knitting list. I was looking to swap some Australian yarn for some American knitting magazines. At the time it was difficult to buy the magazines here and a swap seemed a solution. I wanted them for a late friend of mine who could do very little but knit. Sue helped out, as did a number of other people.
And Sue went on helping out, as did a number of other people. Until Margaret died Sue arranged a subscription to the magazine. Margaret used it to the full - much of it for teaching a group of young knitters.
Those young knitters are now my responsibility. They stopped meeting at the hospital after Margaret died but they meet in other places, mostly in one particular home which is wheelchair accessible and has a large family area where they can gather easily.
Sue knows all this. She has followed the progress of the group with interest. She has sent boxes of left over yarn, yarn that cannot be bought here in Australia. The group has tried all this and managed to learn much from her generosity. She has listened to their joys and woes in e-mails and always replied.
The group lost a member and Sue wept with us. The group has gone to summer schools and Sue has cheered them on. She has rejoiced at prizes won and good academic results. The group looks on her as part of their "family". They made her an "honorary Australian" and sent her a copy of the "Green and Gold" - a very Australian cookbook. When she admitted she had never finished a pair of socks one of the girls knitted her a pair. We had to guess the size -and they fitted perfectly. She wore the shawl they made her to a big knitting event in America - and it went with her when she went interstate for experimental treatment at one of the universities.
From beginning knitters the three boys and two girls left in the group have developed more confidence than many adults. They are about to welcome another boy into the group for the year he will be spending in Australia. They know what Sue's situation is and they have reacted by sending more e-mails. Those e-mails are warm, chatty and positive. They made the decision not to tell her negative. They told me, "Just the good stuff Cat!"
On Friday not one but two boxes arrived from Sue. Inside them was yarn.
Yesterday, with the mother of one boy, I unpacked them. There was felting yarn for them to try and for one boy in particular to use. There was knitting yarn too. There were all sorts of odds and ends for them to try. They can make "beanies" or caps from most of it. They will make them for people in need because Sue's generosity has helped them learn to do that. We will teach them some new skills as part of the process.
We told the kids what she had sent and each of them reacted with the thought, "She is still thinking of us even when she is now so ill?" They are finding it hard.
At her request they have already written the piece her pastor will read at her funeral service. It is a thoughtful and incredibly mature piece of writing for kids in their mid-teens. What comes across is the message, "You cared about us."
We will miss her when she does go but it is going to be a wonderful way to be remembered.

5 comments:

Sarah Pearson said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your friend Cat, but how wonderful that, in some way, the people whose lives she touched will be at her funeral. She has left a legacy that means she will not be forgotten

catdownunder said...

Thankyou Sarah - Sue is, in typical style, making the most of the time she has left - and we are making the most of it with her. I wish I could see things the way she does.

JO said...

Sad times - but it seems you are all finding ways to celebrate having known and loved her. Which makes her rich beyond measure.

Joanna said...

This is a very moving post. I love the way it brings out the power of craft to forge relationships across ages, genders and even oceans. Your friend sounds like an extremely special person.

Jayne said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your friend but how wonderful it is that people can reach out over continents and forge such friendships. She sounds a wonderful, thoughtful lady, and hopefully it gives her comfort and pleasure to think of your craft group using her gifts.