Dear grandmother, from your secret granddaughter...
I wanted to thank you for the cardigans you knitted for my first baby.
They came in big batches. We didn’t know what we were having so you knitted a mixture of colours from yellow and green to pink and multi-coloured. It was a boy: your first great-grandchild. He has never met you and we don’t have a photograph of you.
When his sister was born a few years later, she wore the pink and yellow ones and we took photos for you. I hope you saw them.
I often wonder if she looks like you.
At the time I thought we were on the cusp of a relationship, but that never materialised and I’ve only met you once. I wish I’d known it would just be the once. I wish I'd known you were my last surviving grandparent. I would have asked you more questions. I would have looked into your eyes properly. I would have remembered what colour your eyes are.
As it is, I will remember the gesture. Not a shop-bought gift, not just one hand-knitted cardigan, but dozens of soft, colourful creations made from a variety of wools and given different finishes. I wonder what you were thinking about during the hours it took to knit them.
I didn’t realise the significance of the gesture at the time, I was so caught up in being a mum to a newborn. Now I choose to think you were knitting the cardigans not just for my baby, but for me as well. You didn’t know me as a baby and you couldn’t be there for me as a grandmother. You didn’t meet me until I was an adult, but I carry hope that you would have loved me, and maybe even fought to keep me in the family. It’s nice to think like that sometimes, but realistically I know it's unlikely.
We may never know what might have been, but I choose to see your gesture as one of love and redemption. I promise to pass your cardigans down to my children. In this way they will be able to feel a connection to their ancestors despite their complicated family tree. It will be our version of sepia-toned photographs on the wall at home.
And if I am lucky enough to have grandchildren to wear your cardigans, I will hold them so very tight.
Your secret granddaughter