"Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber." Proverbs 31:19 NLT

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Love Does Not Die

I buried Richard, the husband of my youth, on my 47th birthday. He had been sick with prostate cancer for a year, with a very aggressive cell type but didn't appear extremely sick until his last couple of months. That kept us optimistic, despite the statistics of a man his age. As a physician, he knew his chances better than I did. But as we, my sons and I, saw him go down hill, we feared what we saw. That did, however, give us a chance to prepare for what we were observing and it allowed me to accept his death with a bit of grace and preparation. As 1 Thessalonians 4:13 says, we do not need "to grieve as those who have no hope." I was with him when he died and I had a very strong impression of him going up, up and into the arms of Jesus Christ. Richard had a strong faith and there was such comfort in that.

I got remarried again fairly soon, too soon for some who thought it meant that I never loved the father of my children. On the contrary. Death cannot kill love. Dreams may die, plans, hopes, lifestyles all may die, or at least change, when loved ones die. But not love. Death is much different from other separations, such as divorce in one very important way: those left behind are not left with memories of hostility, arguments, hatred, resentment. You are left with memories, not all perfect memories but a lot of good, happy memories. That can free you to move on, to continue living, if you let it.

I remember in the first day or 2 after Richard's death, having to decide what clothing to take to the funeral home in which to have him buried. My first thought was how much he loved the hand spun sweater/jacket that I had knitted for him in 1986. It was supposed to be a cardigan to wear when he needed to keep the chill out.  But I had spun fairly thick yarn so the sweater got heavier and heavier as I knitted until it was quite clear that this was for outdoor use. He loved it and wore it most days in the springs and falls after it was finished. The year I finished it, I won 1st place at our small county fair.  I don't believe it was the best workmanship entered but by sheer volume, it was chosen.  :) It seemed fitting to 'lay him to rest' in it.

But the thought of burying him in his beloved sweater didn't last long. I realized that it held too many memories to put into the ground with him. In fact, seeing the sweater only brings back the fondest of memories. Memories like, all during the spinning and knitting process, I kept asking him if he wanted pockets. He always insisted that he didn't need them.  Until the sweater was finished. Then he needed pockets. We laughed many times about that. And memories of how proud he was whenever he wore the sweater and people would compliment it.  He would go on to tell them how it came to be. Usually they would react with amazement, which pleased him greatly. I would ask him if they asked of his wife, do "her children arise and call her blessed?" (That didn't come until years later.)  

The sweater to which I refer was in a Leisure Arts Leaflet.  Do they even make those anymore? For reference, it was Leaflet #265, named Shawl Collar Cardigan. Here's the color photo from the leaflet.

I have looked for the pattern to link to but to no avail. It has been almost 30 years. I will gladly scan it and send it via email to anyone wishing it. (Oops, I just heard back from Leisure Arts and it is not legal to reproduce in any format, even though it's no longer in print. If you like the sweater, let me know.)

The yarn I used was spun from a brown corriedale sheep. As you might have guessed if you read a previous post of mine, Knitting Love, I'm rather partial to brown wool. (But I'm not restricted to brown alone!)  Here is the best picture I could get of the small ball of remaining yarn.
It is, I think, slightly thicker than worsted weight but, true to corriedale wool, is a very springy yarn. Love, Love, Love Corriedale.

I believe my oldest son, who is built the most like his dad, will want the sweater when he's older and becomes "more of a sweater guy."  :) In the meantime, Dean, my very tall second husband, who says he isn't "much of a sweater guy" does don the sweater on chilly evenings indoors.
Here's Dean modeling for me.  I love how the corriedale has variations in its fleece.  It shows up as an almost variegated look.

Here's the "Shawl Collar" named in the title of the pattern.

And here's one of the "added later" pockets.  

I'm very glad that I kept the sweater - it just may become an family heirloom one day. At least, for me it is a family treasure.

God bless you,


  1. What a sweet post. It's kind of funny that both Rich and Aaron decided they wanted pockets after the fact. :)

  2. Alright. Aaron wins. Pttthhhhh!

  3. Our college years, when we are living them do not seem that significant. However, through the years, they stand out as a central part of the formative years of our lives. It was during those four years that Richard became my closest friend and roommate. It was through Richard that Linda became a close friend as well. Though our meetings outside college have been brief, they have been some of the most meaningful. Even today, when I mention his name, it stirs the emotions of a friendship that is still one of the closest that I have experienced in my life. I for one will never forget him. I also appreciate the fact that it has given me Linda as a dear friend, and I enjoyed reading all of your posts and blogs.

  4. Wonderful story and amazing knitting! I was a friend of Paul's in college and saw this on Facebook. Much love to your family.

  5. Beautiful story Linda. Even though I know the story I felt like I was sitting in your cozy living room & you were telling me again. Very eloquent!


Thanks for the encouragement of your comments.