The Knitted Cap – About my Grandmother

My grandmother took care of me when my parents were seeking for the promise of their children’s future in at the land of jades in Myanmar. I was little but old enough to record the moments with my grandmother; I’ve drooled and cried countless times and millions of drops of my tear and spittle sipped into her comforting back. She piggybacked me, which was probably the only way I spent most of my time for the day. I left my grandmother when my parents had done searching for the promise from the mysterious land.

She loved knitting, but the scars of her hands were deep and the hands were far enough to prove what she loved to do; the scars, engraved by the razor sharp leaves of pineapples plants, were the badges she gathered over and over while supporting her offspring with the lack of her husband. Her bare feet shuffled through the burning sand and stinging rocks from house to house in order to sell off her pineapples. Living in poverty with seven children; no one presented for her to hold on to or to call for help, but she had faith in God whom she found to be the only one to hold on to.

Education wasn’t a common word for her yet she appreciated its existence; for her, no opportunity was presented to seek for the existence, but she didn’t fail to show her children the way to get it. Even her husband, in other word “my grandfather”, left her with the despairs, she was able to find the strength and courage from her family. Though she felt the bitter pain, she endured the unbearable pain. She knew that there would be a reward from her endurance; I learned about a mother’s endurance and kindness were unlimited for her children.

Leaving everything behind, my family moved to America; now, the Pacific Ocean defined the distance between my country, where my grandmother had planted her sweats, and America, where another promise laid. Outside of the weary plane, the cold wind and snow welcomed our family, and I put on the knitted cap which was filled with the smell of earth and pine apple, and it had the power to conjure up the peace to the unsettling weather; it wasn’t the only time that I used it. I used it every day enough to make my head went through the hole from the top of the cap.

The cap was the only present from my grandmother that I had left, and it was one of the souvenirs of my grandmother and her painful history. She knitted the cap for her first son, the esteemed uncle, and she kept the cap when it no longer fitted him. Then, she gave me the cap made with the color of passion: pure purple; the texture of breeze, and the beauty of the maker’s art with engraved seams and swirling creases.

One day, in the unforgiving wind and snow of the American winter, I was on the bus rolling down to school wearing the cap. My fingers were playing on the lines of the texture of the cap’s texture while replaying the moments with my grandmother from my memories. Then, I saw an old woman with a cane, which was probably the only one she had to hold on to, standing at a bus stop. The snow and the wind were running through her as if she didn’t exist, and people might have forgotten her as the snow and the wind did. I felt the sorrow while wondering about her beloved children and beloved grandchildren.

Out of the sorrow, the sudden feeling of warmth was summoned; it was the feeling of warmth and assurance from the past summer. I stayed with my grandmother every summer break back in my country and the summer was the last. It was when I realized the wrinkles on her face has deepened; as like a tree’s age was defined by the trunk’s rings, a person’s age is defined by the body’s wrinkles. I nurtured her as my tribe’s tradition says that, “Listening and taking care of old ones enriches the wisdom and brings blessing to the generation of the care giver.” But, the blessing and wisdom weren’t the reasons for being with her, it was that she was the one whom I admired and the one who nurtured me when I needed the care.

The time had arrived for me to repay for what she did for me, yet I knew it would not suffice. Every morning, my feet crawled across the morning market finding the best of the best fruits, meat, and vegetables for her; my hands prepared the meals with gratitude. The irreplaceable pride dwelled inside me; she commented, “I enjoyed your food.”

Her garden which was filled with elegant and magnificent combination of colors of the flowers; variety of fruits as like huge eyes looking out from the trees; and lofty aromas of flowers. It was where I gathered the wisdom.

She said “When you started a seed, you are the one who must nurture it until it can breathe itself. Then, it will one day bear the fruits solely for you.”

I agreed with confusion,” I understood.”

She told me the one thing that I’ve failed to record when I was young. She said, “When you were young, you thought that I was your mother.” She smiled. “You wouldn’t let anyone get near me even my own son.” She was still smiling. “Whenever my youngest son came to me, you would say ‘Go away! This is not your mother; this is my mother! Go away!’ and you were a little angry man.”

I added with a smile, “I wonder if my youngest uncle would have been jealous.”

“Nay, he was old enough to favor your jealousy and appreciate you for being protective of me.”

Luke 2:52, “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”, was the only bible verse I remembered from the summer; she explained about the verse. With confirmation, she said,”You are a good hearted and smart boy. One day, you will be a gentleman who will cherish his own children and wife, and lead your generation with much of wisdom.” She looked at me and said, “Don’t let anything halt you from advancing. Walk with God. You will never be alone when being discouraged or tumbled over and over. He will be the one to lift you up first.”

Then, she said.

”There will be rewards if you pour out your total heart into what you are doing.”

I startled.

The sudden bump from the slippage of the frozen road made me realize that my cap had slipped through my relaxed hands. I picked it up nervously while planning to get off from the bus for the school; it was the second week of school in the United States. The difficulty of the adaptation was almost impossible; the anxiety even rejected my brain’s response to defend the attacks of the winter’s children, the wind and snow. After the snows began to form colonies on my head, I shook my head, and put on the cap; the bolt of courage struck me, and I felt the assurance and comfort from my head to toe.

My forwarding steps became bolder and bolder…

 As I get older, I begin to analyze life and the people around me. I looked back and visualized my grandmother’s life, and I began to see that she had sacrificed and given too much out of her. Till today, she’s willing to give to her children and grandchildren. Whenever we call her, she asked with her weary voice whether we are doing well or not. Comparing to Myanmar and America, things are much better in US. She knows about it, but she still asks because she cares. I have been away from my grandmother for about 7 years now. She can barely recognize our voice let alone the fact that her hearing and sight have weakened. I really want to see her again and give her a hug. Hugging was one of the things that I learned from American culture. In Asian culture, hugging is not an usual thing when showing love or care. It’s defined in other ways. It’s time for me to take care of her for the sacrifices that she has done. I will talk about the difference between American and Asian culture next time.


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3 Responses

  1. Isaac Gwa says:

    I will be the first one to comment. Great story.

  2. dale says:

    This is really beautiful. I was directed to this post by one of your former educators. If you need guidance on moving your grandmother here, I suggest you call one of our US Senators for guidance. They should be able to explain the steps necessary and help cut through any red tape if you encounter any. Best of luck.

  3. Prototype says:

    We have a lot more in common than I realized.

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