Many of the ladies who come to our knitting groups in senior living facilities already have a knowledge of knitting or crochet. They may have done it at some point in their distant past and are looking to pick it up again. But occasionally one comes along who is looking to learn something brand new. It can be challenging for eighty- and ninety-year-old hands and fingers to figure out new motions and movements, but they aren’t afraid to try. For some, it proves a bit much, but for others, like Dottie, the determination is inspirational.
Around the beginning of the summer, Dottie, who could knit beautifully, decided that she would like to learn how to crochet. So we began. Each week I would show her how to make a basic stitch, and coach her through each step to complete a stitch. And each week she would struggle – to remember, and to make her hands do what she dreamed they could. Each week I expected her to say that was enough. And each week she would pull out her yarn and hook and say that she wanted to keep trying, that she wanted to be able to crochet.
As the weeks of the summer passed by, I began to realize her fierce determination to accomplish this goal, and my admiration grew. We would spend most of the hour in chairs side by side, me giving constant direction, Dottie following slowly, me encouraging constantly, Dottie making it to the end of the row. I gradually started sitting back in my chair, not saying so much. And she gradually began to remember. That’s when I became as determined as Dottie that she would indeed learn to crochet.
By the beginning of September, I didn’t have to stick so close. After getting her started for the day, I could just stop by her chair now and then and check her progress. As she made mistakes, she never minded me pulling a row out to do over again, or the words to correct the mistake. And she would quietly, slowly continue to improve.
Last week when I arrived at the group, her chair was empty. She had passed away a few days before. One of her friends brought by Dottie’s knitting/crochet bag, and there on top was the crochet piece she had been working on. It still held the aura of determination.
All too often we think there is something we cannot do – a task, something to learn, something to get through. And so we stop. Or quit altogether. But that isn’t right. Just because something is challenging doesn’t necessarily mean that we cannot do it. Perhaps that situation or task is just presenting us an opportunity to hone our skills of perseverance, determination, and will. And practicing these things only makes us stronger.
I miss Dottie. I miss telling her she can do it. I miss watching her always trying, and the smile on her face when she got it right. We never know when our last day will be. Or that of those around us. Which is why we should always be determined to put the effort in to loving and encouraging the people God gives us connections with each day. Be encouraged to do it. It’s one thing you’ll never regret doing.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on
toward love and good deeds,