Prayer Shawls: Elaine Christine Rhodes, Warsaw Indiana

My grandmother (Elaine Christine Rhodes, of Warsaw Indiana) recently received a prayer shawl. To be honest I am not certain what area the knitters are from who made it. That they are from the northern part of Indiana I am most fairly certain, as most of my family lives in the northern part of the state.

My grandmother was recently diagnosed with a tumor on her pancreas, and she has cancer. It is a large tumor. For those of you who have read the stories that go with the designs that I do, this is the grandmother who made the Keefleys at Christmas (recipe is in Handmade Holidays by Melanie Falick, along with a mitten design…you can see the mittens on Two Sharp Sticks).

At some point, when her vision was bad enough she had to move out of the log cabin some of you have read about in other designs (Hickory Hollow, and also from Handknit Holidays the River Forest Gansey).

While I know that those prayers that went in her cheerful yellow shawl will not take away her cancer, I do know that those prayers can still affect her and us profoundly. While I do believe in miracles, I do not always believe that the miracle is in the healing of the body, or the extension of life.

Sometimes the miracle is in the peace in our minds and hearts, or the comfort to our souls. Sometimes the miracle is in how the grace and dignity of the end of one life profoundly touches and moves that in another.

Grandma Rhodes

I don’t know how to describe how we are all feeling right now. While there is sadness there is peace. While there is pain at our coming loss, there is joy that we have each other. I am somewhat removed from the middle of it so I am sure my nerves are not on edge as much as they might be. It isn’t easy watching someone you love decline. As for the importance of this in my life, I cannot begin to describe what my family has meant to me over the years.

I will express my grief in my own way, more than likely in some knitted design that may or may not find it’s way into a pattern. I designed a shawl one time as an expression of grief.

It is a beautiful design, and the only reason that I have not turned it into a pattern is because I could never find an appropriate name for it or a way of describing it’s story that was satisfactory to me. That it would have been known as an expression of grief on my end did not necessarily bother me, but I did not want it to be looked at as morbid by others.

Sorrow and grief while painful are not always gaping wounds, but sometimes there just are not the words for what our hearts are feeling.

Remembrance of someone (or something) loved is a beautiful thing, at times when grieving a painful thing as well. As the sharpness of the immediacy of our pain ebbs away it is easier to look upon those memories.

While my heart aches for my grandmother and my family now, I cherish the memories that I have of them and hold them near to me. How special that an object like a knitted shawl be chosen for an expression of something like that.

A prayer shawl to comfort at the end of life, or a remembrance shawl to comfort as a celebration of a life loved.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene Treace

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4 Responses to “Prayer Shawls: Elaine Christine Rhodes, Warsaw Indiana”

  1. Lynda in Oregon Says:

    Thinking of you and your family at this difficult time. We are never really ready to let go of the ones we love, but it’s a journey we must all make at some time or another.

    –Lynda

  2. Mary Pat Says:

    Your Grandmother will live in your heart, mind, and knitting. I hope that you will find comfort in that.

    Please know that the thoughts and prayers of other knitters are with you as you and your family as you are caring for your Grandmother during her last days.

    Mary Pat
    Lincoln, NE

  3. Carol Hurt Says:

    Jolene, you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. Grandmas are very special people and remain in our hearts forever. And…yes, there certainly are miracles, I can attest to that. I know you will find the time to talk to your grandma and give her heart-felt hugs. Maybe you will find a very special name for your shawl, one that speaks of happy memories.

  4. Katie Says:

    So sorry to hear about your grandmother.

    Bizarrely, your post came right before a NY Times piece on pancreatic cancer in my feed reader. I’m not sure if it’s something you want to read right now (it’s a link to an article where people talk about having pancreatic cancer), but I’ll leave you the link, in case you do.

    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/09/18/voices-of-pancreatic-cancer/

    Thinking of you and your family.

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