Four Dusty Knots

Melane Palermo

Our-Pact-super-sponsorFour dusty knots.

No give, no slack, taut against the box top.

I am struggling to manipulate the twisted cord, trying to loosen it. I won’t let myself use scissors to cut it apart. In a strange symbolic way, I need to work at each ropy knot. It helps me touch her pain, to connect with her shattered heart.

My grandmother gave me the box yesterday when we met for lunch. She had written me letters, telling me about an unfinished quilt inside a cardboard box. When lunch was done, the plates cleared and the check paid, she handed me the box.

My father, her only son, died 25 years ago. He was young, it was sudden. I remember that night I called to tell her he was dead. Decades have gone by, and I can still hear her voice over the phone line. Her words were few and frail, her breath panting like she was drowning, grabbing for air, lurching around for hope.

So, we meet for lunch, and I bring the box home.

Working slowly to untangle the knots, I picture her in my mind, packing up this quilt. Wrapping the cotton cord around the cardboard box, ferociously tugging each knot, smaller and tighter. Hot sobbing tears splashing on the lid.  Her son is gone. The world is now flat. Her life is suddenly small and narrow, tied up with grief.

I am a quilter, and she has given me the project to finish. The fabric is older than my marriage; the spools of thread predate my children. It began in a world when my father still spoke, still laughed, still breathed.  He died, and this quilt was, in a sense, buried with him.

Now the quilt is mine. This is a gift, a memory, an invitation to connect with the heart of a mother who has lost a son. Yes, we share genetics; I have her hands, her creativity, and her food allergies. But our relationship transcends our shared DNA. I am a mother of a son, and it is only now that I could have a small glimpse into her pain.

And I weep as the knots come undone.


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This is a gift, a memory, an invitation to connect with the heart of a mother who has lost a son.


This post was written by Melane Palermo exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC.

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Melane Palermo believes stories have the power to turn strangers into friends. She likes to rescue shelter dogs, swing a kettlebell, and create tasty gluten-free meals. Now that the kids are gone, she and her husband truly enjoy a bottle of red wine. A midlife mom, she blogs at Good Job Mom!