Heaven, Grandmothers, and Little Old Crochet Hooks

Yellow yarn, pink hook.

“It’s a snake,” eight-year-old me said holding up a long chain of crochet. I remember the warmth of my grandma’s living room. I remember the smell of roast in her kitchen. I remember the color of the yarn- yellow. The color of the crochet hook- pink.

“It’s wonderful,” she said, examining the chain. She doesn’t mention the stitches that are much too loose, nor does she mention the ones that are much too tight. She just examines the long chain, the only crochet talent I had at the time, “but you know, eventually you should turn around and crochet into the chain. You can make it into something.”

That idea sounded great to me. Creating something always sounds great when you start. You imagine what will become of that crochet chain. You imagine plush blankets and warm sweaters. You imagine cozy hats tucked over your ears. You just imagine.

But I knew how to make the snake. It was easy. Single-minded. It was something my eight-year-old mind could wrap around, something my little fingers could create and continue to expand on.

I had already tried turning around once. I turned around, and she taught me how to make a single-crochet stitch, and I tried over and over again, but it only made a tangled mess. It only created chaos. And in the end, I had to cut it and start all over, rebuild the snake that I worked so hard create before. Now that I was back at it, now that my snake was long again and growing without any problems, I was not interested in going back and trying to create something else again.

I just kept chaining away.

This week, in the stress of life, I’ve been crocheting like a mad woman. dishcloth after dishcloth. I’ve tried new stitches and patterns. I keep my hands busy, my mind busy, otherwise both get overwhelmed, out of my control.

I know how to crochet now. I can make more than just a snake. It took a long, cold, boring Indiana winter, my first year of college, to actually buckle down and learn, but I did it. And this week I crocheted project after project, all with my grandma’s old crochet hook.

It wasn’t the pink one that I learned on. This one is blue. They found it in a basket at her house after she died. It was stuck in a nearly full ball of light pink yarn (her go-to), and that was connected to a barely started blanket (her other go-to). The blanket was probably started years before. She lost her ability to crochet quite awhile before she passed away. She lost her ability to do a lot of things she loved years before she passed away. Dementia will do that to you. Life will do that to you.

This hook, my grandma’s little blue one, it isn’t too easy to work with. The shine is worn off from years of use, and as a result, the yarn doesn’t exactly slide, and loop, and hook it like it’s supposed to. But I use it, and I love it.

I’ve been to my grandma’s grave about two times since she died. I’ve never once really felt her there. For me it seems like my grandma never spent a significant amount of time at that grave site during her life, so why would she hang out there after her death? Even if that’s where the ash remnants of her earthly body were buried.

For me, my grandma spent her life crocheting. Baby blankets, graduation blankets, kitchens full of dishcloths.

For me, my grandma is near when I bring out that little crochet hook, when I carry on her legacy, loop by loop, stitch by stitch. For me, a little piece of Heaven, probably my favorite piece of heaven, exists in that little blue crochet hook.

I don’t write about heaven much, if at all. It seems like a curse to even think about it.

We think about Heaven when we lose someone we love, and we adamantly avoid the topic when we watch someone fight to live.

But this week I dared to think about Heaven, and the same thought came to me that I always seems to think when I dare to think about Heaven.

You see, all our life the world, the church, the stories have painted this world of sandwich separation. In the middle of the sandwich, the meat and veggies, that’s us. Earth. Humanity.

The top bun, the one with all the seeds, grains, gluten- that’s Heaven.

The bottom bun, let’s just pretend this is a very subpar sandwich and it’s burnt, well that’s hell.

And in the world view, though these parts are all smooshed into one sandwich, we exist in the linear layers: top, middle, bottom. We all seem to believe in this completely separate division that a human mind can surely grasp: top, middle, bottom. We can all understand the complexity of a sandwich, so that’s what we choose to believe.

But in days like this, the rare days when I dare to think about, contemplate about, heaven, I can’t help but wonder if this image, this well-accepted theory, is actually so incredibly far from the combined complexities of this world, that world, and the synchronization of them both.

I guess my question is- if we live in the meat and veggies of the universe, and if heaven is a totally separate bun above us- then why did I feel Heaven on that day when I knew for sure that I was crazy in love with the man with the long last name and the lime green sneakers? Why did I hold a little bit of Heaven on the day that I met my newborn nephews? Why do I see heaven in every single Indiana sunset?

If heaven is so far removed, so far in the sky, so far distanced from our own flawed existence, then why do I experience a little bit of it every single time I use my grandmother’s old blue crochet hook?

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