How Crocheting Became a Connection to Her Late Mother

She had only met her birth mother as an adult. But in the heartfelt dream, she bonded with her mom over her new hobby.

Posted in , Apr 27, 2022

Illustration by Trina Dalziel

I twisted and pulled the crochet needle, the yarn slipping through my fingers one evening as I worked. I was someone who got bored easily, and my idle thoughts could turn to distress. Crocheting was the perfect distraction. It was something I picked up later in life, but the hobby was a godsend. It soothed me when I got lost in sadness about my biological mother.

When I was only a few months old, my toddler sister, Marlene, and I were taken from our mother and put into foster care. Once our father was contacted, he and my stepmother came to get us. From then on, we lived with them. When we were old enough to ask questions, we were told that our mom didn’t want us. For most of my life, I wondered if that were true. At night, I’d lie awake, wondering where Mom was and if she ever thought about my sister and me.

Marlene and I had always talked about finding Mom, but we only began to search in earnest when I was 49 years old. And we didn’t have a lot to go on. We knew she’d last been living in the Bay area, so Marlene and I did our best detective work, flipping through local papers, asking around, following leads from people who thought they remembered her. Eventually, we tracked down Mom’s address. She’d gotten married and changed her name, but it was her.

Marlene and I sent a letter, explaining who we were and how to reach us. Then we waited. Honestly, we weren’t sure she’d want anything to do with us.

We couldn’t have been more wrong. On our first meeting, she pulled us both into a big hug. Turns out, she hadn’t wanted to leave us in foster care, but as a young single mom, she wasn’t making enough to support us. The state stepped in and took matters out of her hands. My sister and I were too young to remember that she’d visited us when she could. Until the day she arrived and we were gone. Our father hadn’t left a forwarding address. She thought she’d never see us again…until our letter arrived.

We had so much catching up to do! Not only getting to know Mom, but our half-siblings as well. Marlene and I were overjoyed. In the end, though, we had only two years with our mother. She passed away from pancreatic cancer at age 72.

It had been over 20 years since her death, but it still hurt. Sometimes even crocheting couldn’t soothe me. It felt as if I’d been cheated out of time with my mother. Cheated out of a past. It was time I could never get back. With a sigh, I wrapped up my crochet project and headed up to bed.

That very night, I had a dream. In it, I was in heaven. And I was standing in a long line. There were people ahead of me, a string of people behind me, all of us waiting our turn to pass through the gates. Those fabled gates were beautiful, opalescent like a pearl. Sitting at the entrance was Saint Peter. The line to reach him moved slowly. As I walked, I looked in the bag I had slung over my shoulder, filled with crochet supplies. With a sinking feeling, I realized I didn’t have my favorite crochet needle. I had to get it!

“Hurry up, Carol,” Saint Peter said. “The gates will be closing soon.”

All at once I was walking through the gates with my favorite needle in hand. I didn’t know how my turn had come so quickly or how I’d found my needle. As soon as I entered, a figure approached me. An angel dressed in a white, flowing robe flecked with gold. Though she was tall—her face hidden in the clouds above—I sensed that she was smiling.

“Welcome, Carol,” she said in a musical voice. “Come with me. I’ll show you around.”

The angel led me through streets of gold. We hadn’t been walking for long before another figure appeared in the distance—one much smaller than my angel escort. As the figure got closer, I recognized her. It was my mother! And she was running up to meet me. “Carol!” she cried, pulling me into her arms, showering me with kisses. She looked as she had in life, an old woman, but she glowed with joy and good health. “I’ve been waiting for you.”

As Mom and I talked, time seemed to slow down. We had a long conversation, about what I couldn’t say. I don’t remember any of it, except for her asking me, “Will you teach me how to crochet?”

“Of course, I will!” Out of nowhere, two rocking chairs appeared. My mom and I sat, and I took needles and yarn from my bag. I showed Mom how to make the first loop, how to weave and thread the yarn into a pattern. Something I’d never gotten to do while she was still alive. I was awash with a warm feeling of love. Something deep inside me—something that had broken when Mom died—settled.

“Carol,” Mom said, “I know you had me for only two years on earth, but up here you’ll have me forever.” I looked into her eyes, brimming with peace and otherworldly understanding. Then I woke up.

I’m not the kind of person who remembers her dreams, but this one has remained sharp and vivid. Mostly because I believe it was more than a dream. Mom and I didn’t have the past I wanted, but we would have a future that is timeless. I know Mom is watching over me. Until we meet again.

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