Early autumn is a wonderful time to walk through the park, as Perry and Charlotte discovered near the beginning of their relationship. They strolled hand-in-hand, an easy silence between them. A few ducks added further decoration to the ornamental lake, the ripples from their frantic paddling glinting in the low sunshine.
They passed a bench that overlooked the lake and noticed an old woman engrossed in her knitting. Through the blur of needles they could see a small red jumper taking shape. The woman was detached from this world and showed no sign that she had noticed the couple who passed her. Certainly she did not respond to the young man wiping tears from his eyes with the tissue proffered by Charlotte. He was not sure why he was feeling so tearful. It was a lovely afternoon, shared with someone who was starting to occupy more and more of his waking hours.
Perry struggled to make sense of his feelings. He had never really grieved for his grandmother who died more than 10 years ago. Sure, he missed her every day, but there did not seem to be any depth to the sense of loss – it was an event in his early life, and there were so many of them. He remembered how she would knit in front of the television most evenings, the tempo of her needles in perfect synchrony with the pace of action on the screen. The horse racing was best, as they came into the final furlong there was a blur of knitting needles, and now this little jumper – fit for a jockey? – triggered powerful feelings that had lain dormant for so long, like a forgotten knitting pattern found years later in the bottom of the basket.
Charlotte was confused. She knew Perry to be confident, always in control, and not prone to public displays of emotion. His face was smooth like the surface of an ornamental lake without the ducks, reflecting the smooth surface of his life. What had caused such turbulence? This was the first time she had seen him look so vulnerable, and she loved him more for it.
The old woman was not detached from this world at all; she was an extension of the gnarled and greying wood of the solid lakeside bench. There was a definite de-blurring of the knitting needles as the young couple walked past. She felt Perry’s tears and the softness of the tissue Charlotte gave him. To feel, to touch, to share – these are the treasures she misses each day of her widowhood. The little jumper will be posted overseas to her only grandson. She hoped that one day he would walk hand-in-hand through a park on an autumn afternoon with someone special. Until then, the knitting goes on. If only we could knit the future…