Jay and I both finished university in December of 1979, and in January of 1980 we headed to Europe with huge backpacks and very little money. The next four months were spent seeing the sights, visiting relatives and fighting over who got the biggest half of the Mars bar (it was our "go to" pauper's meal when we were low on funds).
There were many times on that trip I was hungry, but there was never a single time I was cold, thanks to my mother-in-law. You see, before I left on that trip she knit me a sweater. It wasn't just any old sweater either. It was knit with an extremely thick wool (what I wouldn't give to know what it was!) that not even the fiercest winds or rain could penetrate. She even sewed a small money pouch inside - perfect for foiling pickpockets.
Fast forward 32 years. We have a storage room crammed with stuff. (I am noticing that even when your kids grow up and move away their stuff doesn't always go with them. Or sometimes it does, but then finds its way back again.) I was down there last week hoping I could find the space heater now that Anton had moved a few of his and Rebekah's things back out again. No luck on the space heater, but guess what I did unearth? A 32 year old sweater! And it still fits! It's a bit shorter than I like to wear my sweaters now, so I have washed and blocked it and hope when it dries it will be an inch or so longer.
Romaine died 28 years ago. She would have loved to be alive at this time. She was constantly looking things up in her set of encyclopedias. Google would have been her best friend. And as far as knitting goes I know she would have loved Ravelry. My enduring picture of my mother-in-law is her sitting at "her spot" on the couch, the TV on in the background, both her knitting and a book in her lap, and a cigarette in the ash tray on the end table next to her. Yes, she was really doing all that at once. She was sort of the smoking version of Elizabeth Zimmermann.
I can't tell you how much I regret that I wasn't a knitter back then. Or that I didn't ask her to teach me how to knit. There's so much I could have learned from her. Looking back I can't even remember what I said when she gave me the sweater. Did I show enough appreciation? Did I tell her how warm it kept me on that trip through Europe? I don't know. What I do know though is all these years later I can still feel the love that was knit into each and every stitch.