“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” – Albert Einstein

My friends, Charlotte and Ray and their two very well behaved girls were visiting us for a “project weekend” this past weekend. There was a TON of sewing done, and some Guitar Hero (you can guess respectively which halves of the couple were responsible for what).

At one point there was the inevitable supply run. No weekend of company is complete without at least one, and usually two, visits to the local Walmart. As we were walking to the checkout, Ray was giving me a certain amount of grief over my handful of purchases.

Three crochet hooks, a pair of knitting needles and reading glasses.

If that isn’t a shopping list for retirement, I don’t know what is.

Now, I learned how to crochet at the age of seven, so I will take no grief over that, however, I am unabashedly entering the bifocal years, where my arm seem to get shorter and shorter every time I have to read the fine print on a medication bottle, or thread a needle. I caved into reading glasses about two years ago out of expediency when I spent over five minutes trying to thread a needle, and cutting my son’s tiny toes became too hazardous.

But the knitting is new.

I tried to teach myself to knit with very limited success several times in the past. My ex-mother-in-law was a knitting machine – and I was the lucky beneficiary of her productive largess. I had some of the most beautiful handknit sweaters and shrugs – all lost in Katrina. They were prisoners of my hope chest when it took on three days of briny water and didn’t drain. The amount of hot water washing that would be necessary to remove the stench and mold would have rendered them too small to be worth salvaging.

Gulf Coast Louisiana isn’t exactly sweater country, and all my beautiful sweaters didn’t see much use. I find myself back in a part of the country where sweaters are actually useful, but my sweater supply line was cut as an unfortunate by product of my divorce. Without another prolifically retired knitting relative to take up the slack, I have decided to struggle through the unnatural-ness of learning two-needle yarncraft. I sat down one night last week, and managed to cast-on a scarf and knit six laborious rows before sleepiness hit me and I had to (literally) wrap it up for the night.  Even this small feat was only made possible by frequent consultation with the instructional book from the teach-yourself-kit I bought at Barnes and Noble.

I came down from dressing the next morning, and found how utilitarian knitting needles really were. My son was pushing his Thomas the Tank engine between some very familiar-looking pink train tracks, and my neophyte scarf was laying in a jumbled pile of tangled wool on the floor beneath.

I expressed my displeasure with my son’s choice of construction materials a little, um, vociferously.

Maybe a little too vociferously.

Harry jumped and dropped his train and gave me a completely stunned look. I lowered my voice and explained to him for the five-hundredth time that everything in the house was not his to take, and that he had made me very sad by ruining my knitting. He said nothing, but he hung his head in silence all the way to the car. As I buckled him into his seat, I asked him if he wanted to say he was sorry.


“Well, you don’t HAVE to say you are sorry. That’s up to you. I am sorry I yelled at you, but I spent a long time making that knitting and it made me very sad and very angry that you took my needles and pulled it all apart.”

I got into the front seat and started toward work.

About a quarter mile from the house, Harry finally spoke again.


“Yes, Harry?”

“I want to say I am sorry.”

“Thank you, Harry. That makes me feel much happier. Now let’s have a nice morning.”

I hope and pray that the lesson my son learned is not to say that he is sorry. I hope he learned to FEEL sorry when he hurts someone. Even when he didn’t mean it. Even when it was an honest mistake.

If he does, he is miles away from a lot of adults I know.

May 19th, 2008 at 3:04 pm
One Response to “Remorse and Old Age”
  1. 1
    charlotte Says:

    hey…I just caught up on your blog for the first time since our visit. 🙂 Thank you for the compliment on the girls!