This is nothing to do with Madame Defarge but just the story of how knitting helped make our last days with Mum into a truly special time.
It turned out to be a very precious two months. My sisters and I spent some of the time helping her sort out things she wanted to give or throw away before she died. We told stories, reminisced, laughed, cried.
And more and more - we knitted. My youngest sister hadn't knitted for years but started again and got so enthusiastic she finished a complicated jacket pattern.
As children we knew that Mum could always make something out of anything and even then, a month before she died, she started and finished a cotton cardigan for one sister in time for her birthday.
When Mum could no longer knit she was still interested in what we
were doing and helping us choose colours and patterns. My aunt came to stay every week and would bring what she was knitting for her grandchildren so the two sisters could sit and chat and share the knitting - or occasionally the unravelling.
Mum was able to stay at home the whole time, thanks to the amazing National Health Service which provided everything free of charge, including the community nurses and Macmillans who came several times a day to help with basic nursing.
And of course we knitted as we watched by her bedside at night. We shared the watching, so that there was always someone with her. Knitting was a way of staying awake, especially on the 2 am to 8 am shift. Sitting in a small pool of light in her dark bedroom while she slept peacefully nearby, knitting not only helped to keep me awake but also kept my mind busy as well as my hands and helped me deal with the grief of her gradual decline.
Now a year on – she passed peacefully in her sleep in April 2012 – I and my siblings are so much closer together and we keep in touch so much more - not only to share the knitting that we are doing. And I have several garments that I made then which will always remind me of a gentle passing and the loving time we had together.
and a knitting bag, made hastily to hold my knitting and which Mum really loved.