Sunday. The only person that could make me break my commitment to knit without cellphone interruption is my Grandpa Collis. I felt sorry for not being present to the people walking by the bench, but my grandpa calls so rarely that I decided to savor it. He phoned me as the sky deepened to magenta after the fiery sun had set. I put him on speakerphone so I could keep plying my knitting needles, and he told me about his 90 year old girlfriend, the drought in Sooke B.C., and his plan to shell peas tomorrow. I imagined him in the home that he built from scratch, with the life-sized sword ferns that he carved on almost every door, including the cupboards.
D. walked by with Citrus and told me I was lucky to have a grandpa.
I had a special guest arrive at the bench, all the way from Bainbridge Island! I never expected this blog to result in real, flesh-and-blood, relationships off the computer screen. A gift! Inga, Chris, Colleena, and Betty Ninja the dog pulled up in a white volkswagon. Colleena, the 6 year old in the back seat, told me I was making good progress. The most frequent question these days is “how far are you now?” The neighbors are keeping tabs on my progress…Towards the end of the knit, a man and a woman came toward the bench each cradling a bowl of the largest green figs I have ever seen. They were the size of small pears–I couldn’t take my eyes off them. The woman asked if I wanted one. I said yes, but my guest said no. “Take one for her–she likes them,” my fig benefactor said. “Cheers!” we said and clinked our figs together. It was absolutely ridiculous and delightful. When I bit into my fig, it was so ripe that it gushed all over my fingers. I was momentarily transfixed by my fig’s slimy interior like a sea anemone, stomach lining or the mouth of an alien. None of these associations were very appetizing, but that didn’t prevent me from finishing it with gusto.
C. stopped by briefly and shared the good news that Catherine* is doing better.
*name changed to protect privacy
C. stopped by the bench with a heavy heart. Our neighbor-friend’s disease, rather than staying contained as we had hoped, is spreading. All plans on hold. Life screeches to a complete stop in these moments. C. sat down on the bench and we tried to pray. “Are you listening?!” she asked, looking up at the sky. “I can’t imagine the world without Catherine Rondelli*,” she said. “She’s scared, R.’s scared, their kids are scared.” I could feel the fear flowing down through my legs and into the earth as she spoke. We sent out a prayer together for peace and healing, C.’s voice cracking with sorrow and love.