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    BWS Stories - NABBW and GRAND Magazine Contests Winners

    NABBW and GRAND Magazine Contests Winners - Knitting With Nanny - Runner Up!

    Linda Hershman is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and is certified in EMDR/trauma therapy and co-occurring substance abuse/mental health. Her private practice is located in Narberth, PA. She is a freelance writer and contributing editor to the PA Association of Marriage and Family Therapists newsletter. She wishes she had more time to knit for her husband and son, who is now too old for dinosaur sweaters.

    Knitting With Nanny - Runner Up!

    Life with Nanny, my grandmother, was punctuated by the clicking of knitting needles. Nanny's hands were never idle; they worked when she rode in the passenger seat of the car, as she waited to be dealt into her poker games, and especially while sitting poolside at her condo complex.

    Each generation of my family produces one knitter, a woman who wraps the others with love in the form of baby blankets, children's sweater emblazoned with ballerinas or dinosaurs, glittery scarfs to glam up the plainest of coats. I inherited Nanny's joy in the the tactile, the colors, and most of all, the way the repetitive movements quieted the mind. Knit. Purl. Like meditation, or a prayer.

    Together we'd sit by the pool on chaise lounges, endless inches of garments spooling from the needles as we chatted. Sometimes we knit silently, breathing in chlorine and connection. “Who's it for?” Nanny would ask when I pulled a ball of yarn from my knitting bag and cast on stitches to start a new sweater. Her eyes sparkled like topaz when I worked on a piece for myself or my son, but her brows furrowed if I was making something for one of the many men who left eventually, not tied by the strands I weaved for them. I finally loved a man who stayed, and knew he was the right one when Nanny suggested, “Why don't you make him a nice sweater?”

    Carpal tunnel syndrome eventually forced Nanny to retire her needles. Still, I'd knit at the pool while she watched. Occasionally, she'd ask, “Who's it for?” and I'd say, “It's for you,” and her topaz eyes danced even as her brow creased. Love and loss.

    Last year, as Nanny lay dying, I'd bring my needles to her bedside, the click-clacking speaking for us. Knit. Purl. I love you...farewell.

    * * * * * *

    My six-year old niece, Tia, seems to be the yarn bearer of her generation. Sometimes she knits with me, her curly hair bouncing as she throws the yarn like it's a boomerang, tongue sticking out of the side of her mouth. Knit. Purl. At other times she watches and asks questions, as if she understands she's the chosen one and needs to absorb the lessons. There is little silent communication with Tia, who chats as if she's on deadline to use all her words, but we share a secret language.

    When I begin a new piece, Tia asks, “Who's it for?” She giggles with the glee of a six-year old who's in on the joke. Together, we yell, “It's for Nanny!”

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