Harry is a Vietnam vet, who flew for the Navy. Therefore, I barely knew him growing up. When I was very young, I remember hearing his voice on cassette tapes he would send from Hawaii. I remember there being a collision when he was stationed on the John F. Kennedy, and my dad calling everywhere trying to find out if Harry was okay. And I remember one visit to Virginia Beach after Harry and his wife Darlene settled there with my five cousins, for each whose births Harry was absent. You bet I admire Darlene!
So, other than family reunions, I didn't know Harry well. Until. A few years ago, at a reunion being held at his home, we got to talking, mostly about my dad. You see, Dad suffered a stroke when he was a bit younger than I am now. He's physically well, but the stroke affected his speech recall, putting paid to his teaching career. Thus this man who was always the center of conversation, with a biting wit, now sits on the sidelines listening, fighting occasionally to find the right word to interject.
What this meant to me was pretty profound. Dad and I had a very rocky relationship growing up. I never felt good enough for him, and he repeated behaviors he disliked in his own father. But right about the time I felt grown-up enough to tell him how I felt, I no longer could. It would have been fighting an unarmed opponent, and think what you will of me, Gentle Reader, I have a bit more honor than that.
At the reunion, I told this to Harry, following by saying that I felt I'd effectively lost my father. And he startled me by saying he knew just how I felt, because he'd lost his only sibling, the brother that was the only one who would know what their youth was like. It was a huge bonding moment for us, and to a small extent, Harry stepped into the shoes my Dad never filled for me.
Now, the men in my family are traditionally very good hobby carpenters. When my younger daughter was graduating from university, I asked Harry to make her a cedar chest for her gift from us. He did a lovely job, only allowing me to pay for some of the wood. The same when he made an incredible display cabinet for me, and then he surprised us with a gorgeous swiveling double frame as a studio-warming gift.
Not too surprisingly, then, I wanted to make something for him. I settled on a scarf, the beginning of which you can see here. I fell for the yarn, and it reminded me of Harry's lovely blue eyes. The man was killer handsome in his youth, and is still a stunner, as you can see in this picture of him with my late grandmother from four years ago!
The scarf was my car knitting, even with the cables, since they were relatively big and easy, even with slippery yarn. I kept it in my "Emergency Knitting" bag, and worked on it sporadically. Then I realized it was getting close to being long enough, and Christmas was coming, and I did a full-court press (whatever THAT is) to finish it. It was shipped on Friday, with a note telling him what he means to me.
He called the studio today, confessing he couldn't wait to open it. Hey, I'm from this family, and I never expected him to! He repeated several times how beautiful the scarf was, and that he was very moved. He said it was one of the most thoughtful gifts he'd ever received, because he knew a part of me was in it.
It's so wonderful to have one's efforts appreciated like that! Granted, it was a small thing to make, but I did put love into every stitch. I wish we'd gotten to be close earlier in life. I'm sure it would have helped me grow into a better person...not much better, of course, because I'll be snarky till the day I die, but better.
Harry remarked how warm the scarf was. Funny, but I think it's keeping me warm too.