By Daisy Alpert Florin
The blanket, still in pieces, sits in a bag in my attic. I take it down sometimes, run my fingers over the soft white cotton, yellow now with age. If I let my eyes blur, I can almost see my mother crocheting in front of the T.V., a cigarette and glass of white wine on the nightstand beside her. Her needle moves in a jerky, seemingly haphazard way, but when it stops, a delicate white hexagon appears. Later, she will crochet these hexagons together to create the piece of blanket I am holding now.
My mother started making the blanket back in the 1980s to replace one her mother had made that was stolen from a weekend house we once owned. That house was constantly being broken into, so there wasn’t much to steal. This time, the thieves took whatever was left—a crappy television set, some dishes, a couple of beach towels. And the blanket. The police said they probably used it to carry out the rest of the stuff, then dumped it somewhere.
My mother cried when she heard that. Her mother—my grandmother, who still lived in Sweden where my mother was born—was blind by then and while she could still crochet, she’d never make anything as beautiful or intricate again. So my mother announced she would make a new one. She worked on it for years, was still working on it when my grandmother died in 1998, and when she died two years later, the blanket remained unfinished.
I have it now, zipped up in the navy blue Longchamp tote bag she kept it in. Inside are several dozen loose hexagons, a sewn-together piece not quite big enough to fit a twin-sized bed, a pattern book, crochet needles, several skeins of yarn. Everything I need to finish the blanket is there, but I can’t because I don’t know how to crochet. My mother never taught me.
It occurs to me now that perhaps the blanket is a metaphor of some kind.
I don’t always think of my mother as an immigrant, but . . .