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A Provisional Cast-On and a Memorable Send-Off

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Dear Kay,
Since last I wrote, I’ve been to Greenville, Alabama, and Charlottesville, Virginia.
It was a week to gather with family and friends to remember Uncle Dan, my dad’s only brother. Solemn and hilarious, heavy and light, dark and bright. Why does so much of life parse into such even measures? I heard “Danny Boy” on a bagpipe, witnessed deviled eggs that stood on their ends like little egg-white Jefferson cups. I had barbecue from a hut beside a Shell station, and I heard an extraordinary eulogy from Dan’s son Dan.
“Amazing Grace,” “Ode to Joy,” “Morning Has Broken,” “Shall We Gather at the River.” Cousins from all over. Siblings from all over.
Just before we left Charlottesville, we made a trip up to Monticello–Dad, brother Aubrey, and sister-in-law Celine. In the light snow I thought about how Jefferson’s life of the mind resembled my uncle’s. Restless, curious. Complicated.
At one point, I was about a foot from this Gilbert Stuart portrait:
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That empty, green background makes the portrait sing, doesn’t it?
The travel was a complete tragicomedy on the way home: a failed de-icing that felt like a recent Carnival cruise, an overnight in Charlotte, and an extra leg through DC. At one point, we sat in a packed bus, way out on a bleak tarmac, parked for an hour in front of an airplane with a closed door and no sign of activity. An excellent exercise in letting go.
It gave my dad and me plenty of time to cogitate on the state of the universe.
At least I had a simple project that kept me distracted.
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London Cowling, with Blue Sky Alpaca Silk, one of the great yarns, in Oyster.
Love,
Ann

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29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. A beautiful post in every way.

  2. I’m so sorry to hear about your uncle. Did he live in Greenville? I always forget your family is from there. I read the “barbecue from a hut beside a Shell station” before I read the part about Greenville and I thought, “Hunh. There’s two of those in the world?”
    Anyway, my condolences.

  3. That was a lovely tribute.

  4. Sounds like a wonderful sendoff.
    And, deviled eggs make everything better I think!
    Sorry about the trip.

  5. If a knitting-themed Clash pun can’t cheer you up in times of mourning, nothing can!

  6. That was such a good post. I know I am focusing on the wrong details, because truly it is the weird bleak stuck-on-the-tarmac times that you never forget with family–but what’s the deal with the devil eggs? Are they not halved, but hollowed & refilled vertically?
    yrs trivially, xox…gale

  7. Gale, I am telling you it was a feat of egg alignment that ranks with the pyramids! Slice off the top enough to get the yolk out I guess, and a leveling slice off the bottom. Voila: unprecedented, vertical, deviled eggs.

  8. Reading this late. I’m so sorry for your loss.
    The portrait of Jefferson is priceles- I am so glad you included it in your entry. He was a complex fellow.
    Thank you for enriching my life on an ongoing basis. I appreciate it.

  9. OMG – you were a funeral that played “ode to joy”! I’ve been telling my DH that I want that played at my final services – he refuses – claims it is inappropriate and would ruin all future love of that song to remind him of my death. As I plan to outlive him – this might be a moot argument. His love for me as evidenced by his second argument is heart-warming though. The only concession he says is he’ll play the song slow and dirge-like.

  10. Sorry for your loss.
    And at the risk of sounding like a know-it-all (I don’t know-it-all, or even know-much-of-anything), that looks like a provisional cast on. Do you use interchangeable needles? The reason I ask is that if you do use interchangeables, leaving provisional cast-ons on a cable wire makes picking-up that end of the knitting really, really easy. You just screw the needles on and start knitting. The string thing is kind of a PITN, I think.

  11. Condolences on the loss, but so pleased to keep you distracted and with such a beautiful yarn. And any funeral trip that involves barbecue can’t be all bad, I feel. Especially from a hut. Love to you all. X x x

  12. When meeting with my mother’s minister to plan the details of her funeral, the minister was surprised (but pleased) when I chose “Ode To Joy” as one of the songs for the service. After all, a funeral is a service of mourning the loss of a loved one, but also a joyous celebration of that person’s life.
    Mary G. in Texas

  13. Ann – what a lovely post.
    Nancy – Mary G has it right. The funeral is to mourn the death of the person, but also to celebrate that person’s life and in my tradition (Episcopal Church), to celebrate the resurrection. “Ode to Joy” would be great, but not it if would make your husband miserable afterwards.

  14. Very sorry for your loss.
    Love the cowl pun fun.

  15. Very sorry about your uncle.
    Also, being from Greenville, I know exactly where you ate–Jesse’s (Real Pit BBQ). Smallish world!

  16. Och! May his memory be for a blessing…. jdu

  17. I’m sorry to hear about your loss, but was heartened by the “life goes on” stories of the rest of your post. It’s good that you could share this sad time with your beloved dad.
    I was also intrigued by your personality assessment of TJ and Uncle Dan: “Restless, curious. Complicated.” I still characterize my own now-deceased father as “part good-old-boy, part restless seeker.” And complicated, for sure!

  18. Linda, we have some even more painful punning coming up for a couple of hat patterns later this week of you like that sort of thing…

  19. Sorry that a sad family event got you to Monticello – but jealous of your visiting it. It is one of the places that I truly want to go and see. Jefferson is such an interesting and fascinating enigma.
    Listen to the Monticello/Jefferson episode of the “American Icons” series on Studio 360 (NPR – studio360.org). Truly fascinating tale of the history and legacy – and often lack of legacy – of Monticello. Highly recommend!

  20. Dear Ann,
    I am sorry for your loss and the loss to your family. My heart goes out to you. I lost my dear uncle in June of 2000, and still think of him and miss him.
    Good memories get youn through.
    LoveDiane

  21. I’m so sorry about your uncle, but a good funeral is the best kind of family reunion, isn’t it? Everyone’s on their best behavior, and happy (and grateful) to see one another. And since most of my family is Methodist, lots of singing. It sounds like yours was one of the good kind, too — except for the travel misadventures, of course….

  22. Sorry about your loss.
    Hearing that “Morning Has Broken” was played brought a tear to my eyes. It was sung by the church choir at my mom’s funeral, as she had sang in the choir and it was one of her favorite songs from their repertoire.
    The cowl is gorgeous. I may have to buy the pattern so I can scale it out into an afghan!

  23. Ann, it sounds like your family gave Uncle Dan a great send-off. My condolences to all.

  24. “Cogitate” – a word my dad used. I haven’t heard it in quite a few years. That made me smile.
    In Greenville, I know Tom’s, Bucky’s, Henry’s, and Mutt’s bbq, but not Jesse’s. Always ready to try another one.
    My condolences to your family.

  25. Ann, I’m here with my hand on my heart, sending you a sigh of appreciation. There are so very many times when your writing has gone straight to my heart and carried me through. Thank you, as always Ann, I’m here with my hand on my heart, sending you a sigh of appreciation. There are so very many times when your writing has gone straight to my heart and carried me through. Thank you, as always <3

  26. Sorry that I missed sending up the knitter’s bat signal. I heard the memorial in C’ville was fittingly lovely. RIP Professor Emeritus Dan Meador … you will be missed.

  27. Greenville, AL? Really? You don’t hear too often of that town mentioned. (I’m new to your blog).
    My mom lives there … this is a small world.

  28. So glad you had the time with your Dad! That will always be a precious memory!

  29. Family gatherings, births and deaths… sometimes they seem to remind us of who we are and where we came from. When my stepfather died, we had the BEST time during the after-memorial service luncheon. I’m glad you got to share special time with your family.
    The deviled eggs sound like they were made using “Eggies”, little units that you crack the egg into to cook, so you eliminate peeling. A *boon* for those that like to use fresh ranch eggs, which are usually next to impossible to peel without losing half the egg!
    http://columbia.dealsaver.com/engine/SplashDetails.aspx?contestid=32516&productid=7814019