Monday, October 29, 2012

The Death Shawl

The Death Shawl

OK, I really hesitate to tell this story because it may offend.  On the other hand, it’s Halloween, and everything in this story happened a long time ago – so What the heck. – here’s the true story of the Death Shawl.
I was in the military stationed in Virginia.  We decided to go visit family in Utah for Christmas.  My first wife’s grandmother was very sick and was not expected to live more than a few weeks so we especially wanted to get a chance to visit with her for one last visit.  I had been making a few shawls and decided it would be nice to make one for her grandma. 
The pattern was lacy, but this is before I discovered there was something besides acrylic worsted yarn from Michaels, so I made it out of some sparkly white acrylic yarn from the local big box store.  We were staying at my parent’s home in Provo.  I worked on it like mad for a couple days after we got to Utah so it would be done when we went to visit Grandma.  I finished it the night before we drove to her home in Ogden
Grandma was thrilled.  She cried (no surprise there my wife’s whole family has leaky tear ducts) and was so happy. 
She died a couple weeks later.  No surprise there.  We flew out for the funeral.  After it was over, Grandpa returned the shawl to me. 
A couple years later on a summer vacation to visit Utah again I gave the shawl to my mom.  A few weeks later my mom announced to my sister that she was going to take a nap on the couch for an hour or so before the football game.  She never woke up.  This was a complete surprise.  My mom was old and had a history of heart trouble, but had been fine for quite a while before this.  When we were dividing up my mom’s possessions, there was the shawl.  Of course, since I had made it, I again took it home.
On that visit we visited my first wife’s other grandmother.  She was in a rest home and would fade in and out of reality.  She asked why we were there in Utah and I told her that my mom had passed.  When I told her how mom had died, grandma teared up and said that was so beautiful.  Then she told us that she couldn’t die because she had a pace maker. 
Grandma lingered on for a few years, wishing she could pass on, fading in and out of reality.  She would stand by the micro wave because she had heard people with pace-makers shouldn't stand by macro waves.  She wanted the pace maker removed - but of course doctors won't do that.  She was convinced she couldn't die as long as she had the pace maker.

   Before our next visit to family in Utah, my mother-in-law told me it was time to give Grandma the “shawl.”  Of course that was a joke, but it did remind me that I had that basically unused shawl that Grandma would probably enjoy - so, I packed up the shawl and brought it to Grandma.  I was hesitant to do so because I have heard stories about how nice things owned by people in rest homes are stolen by the staff and that shawls especially find a way of disappearing, but the shawl was just sitting in a drawer not being used so I figured Grandma might as well enjoy it.  So, I brought it to her.
Two weeks later Grandma died!!!
To quote Goldfinger in James Bond, “Once is happenstance.  Twice is coincidence.  The third time it’s enemy action.”
            The shawl is now buried deep in my old knitting boxes.  I really should destroy it because I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to find it when I’m gone and decide it’s a pretty shawl.  On the other hand, it’s an old acrylic shawl.  I have lots of really nice ones that will be found first, so it will probably be thrown out anyway.


  1. Thanks for sharing your story. The way I look at it, your shawl has brought a lot of comfort to an uncomfortable stage in their lives.

  2. An elderly friend once told me that people really get it all wrong. Death isn't the enemy. Death is just one more stage in living. Pain is the enemy. Your lovely shawl has eased a lot of pain over the years.