Grandmother's Knitting

In Attire

I imagine the boat ride must have been rocky across the black ocean, as my grandmother Lu tilted back and forth between starboard and port. The sadness she could never let go of began on this boat, churning inside the waves she watched. She could feel her life begin to rust, and she knew that it would only grow brittle and break. Her father had left for America first. He lived in Oregon and saved all his money to buy tickets for his wife and three daughters. They packed all that the could and sailed across the wide waves and rode a train through land that seemed unending to become American. She had learned to knit from her grandmother in Norway and in America, in her new life, her hands reflexively remembered the gesture of knitting needles dipping though she never saw her grandmother again.   “We left everything, we left my house, my family, my friends. I had to give away my dog. We left the only land I had ever stood on, to come here.”  “Did you ever go back?” I asked her.  “No.”  “Can you still speak Norwegian?”  “No.”  She tried to forget it all, tried to cut it out of herself, it was too painful to hold on. The other children made fun of her accent. She kept knitting, sweaters for her children into their adulthood and blankets for her grandchildren, recreating the pattern of motion her grandmother taught her. And sometimes under her breath without ever realizing, she would speak Norwegian in a murmur, always tied to her home so far away. 

Place(s): Norway,Oregon,American West,
Year: 1937

– Cahaley Markman

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant