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Happy Birthday, Jane Lawton

24 May 2012
Jane on the Vineyard

Mom on the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard, 1997.

Today is my mother’s birthday. She would have been – wait, should I say? She might not like that. Well…she would have been 68. I wish I could throw some kind of birthday party for her, or at least take her out to lunch and ask her how swollen her feet got when she was pregnant, or what she thinks of Mad Men.

This is one of the difficulties of May: first Mother’s Day, and then her birthday. [Perhaps next year we will have shifted over to UK Mother’s Day, which is in March?] You people who like your knitting blogs full of knitting probably don’t know which end is up.

Mom used to have amazing birthday parties for us; I just came across a whole bunch of photos of one of mine. I think I was in fifth or sixth grade. There are at least 30 kids there – maybe all the girls in my grade? – and I remember there being crafts and goody bags and all kinds of nifty stuff (which may be par for the course these days, actually…but seemed amazing back in the 80s). The nifty stuff included my grandmother, dressed as a fortune teller, using an old goldfish bowl to see our futures.

[I am certain that this happened, but knowing my grandmother the mind boggles.]

As I told you all last month, Mom used to call on my birthday and give me little tidbits about what she was doing on the day I was born: she woke up, there were some contractions, she decided to go to the garage sale anyway, her water broke while she was there, she had to get a cab from there to the hospital…you get the idea. Sometimes she’d give me the whole story in one go, but sometimes she’d draw it out and call at different times during the day (“This time 23 years ago, you had arrived! But the cafeteria was closed, and I was really, really hungry, so I sent your father out for a cheeseburger!”). There were years when this tradition of hers seemed hilarious, and years when it seemed really embarrassing. But (looking ahead to our daughter’s birth) I now realize that one’s birthday doesn’t just belong to oneself: it also belongs to one’s mother. And I wonder whether Mom’s mother did something similar on her birthday.

Anyway, for some reason today the idea of a birthday party is in my head. I so wish I’d had a great big party for my mother when she was alive. We did have a party for her 60th birthday, but what I remember most about that is a grand saga trying to get the cake there on time. This weekend, I think the baby and I and Mr. Trask will go to the Randolph Hotel for tea to celebrate Jane. She stayed there when she visited me in Oxford many years ago, and we loved having high tea together there. Mmm, high tea.

Randolph 1995

The Randolph Hotel, 1995. Photo by Jane Lawton.

And then it also occurs to me that I might make something for her. I have this beautiful red yarn that was given to me by my mother-in-law, and I’ve never made it into the “something to wrap yourself in” that we’d planned. But it’s a gorgeous shade of red, just the shade Mom liked, and if I make something in honor of her but wear it myself then she’ll be pleased. I know, because she used to say, “Why don’t you wear more color near your face?”

I’m tempted by the Leaflet pattern from Knitty, but would love to hear your suggestions. What would Jane Lawton wear?

Now, I realize that I just talked myself into eating a sumptuous meal, and knitting something for myself, somehow to celebrate my mother’s birthday…but hey. I think she’d approve.

Red Yarn for Jane

Pretty red yarn in our back garden during unusual heat wave. What Would Jane Wear?

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Steve Lawton permalink
    24 May 2012 10:36 am

    A wonderful tribute to Jane. Love Dad

  2. 24 May 2012 10:44 am

    The Rose Song shawl by Carol Feller I bookmarked the other day comes to mind. It calls for a thicker yarn (shawl sans lace? yes please) in a bright colour 😉

  3. Lauren Grodstein permalink
    24 May 2012 10:44 am

    I loved your mom, I love this post and I can’t wait to meet your baby.

  4. Cindy B. permalink
    24 May 2012 10:46 am

    I think Cousin Jane definitely would!

  5. Joan Kleinman permalink
    24 May 2012 11:10 am

    That wonderful goofy photo I have of Jane hiding behind the Maryland flag? She is wearing that shade of red. Go for it!

  6. Elizabeth Terry permalink
    24 May 2012 11:13 am

    Beautiful idea. Happy birthday to Jane!

  7. 24 May 2012 12:29 pm

    Thank you for your blog today. May is very hard for me also. I was born on mother’s day, to a mentally ill mother, This morning my daughter called to tell me she had just suffered a 9-weeks miscarriage. I am currently crocheting a large baby blanket for a stepdaughter’s second baby, and last week I bought some terribly expensive yarn for a blanket to this blessed lost baby. My mother died thirteen years ago–she would be 88–of breast cancer, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of her.
    Happy birthday Jane! High tea sounds wonderful, as does a beautiful red shawl. Thank you for writing to let me know that others also knit and remember, Thank you again.

  8. 24 May 2012 12:38 pm

    thank you for your blog and I apologize for having gotten confused with my sign on, I was born on mother’s day to a mentally ill mother, and so Mays are hard for me. This morning my daughter called to say she had just suffered a nine-week miscarriage. I am currently crocheting a large baby blanket for my step-daughter’s second baby. last week I cought some outrageously expensive yarn for a blanket for this-so-soon-lost baby. Thank you for writing your blog. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of my mom, although she dies of breast cancer 12 years ago. Happy birthday Jane!I think that a luscious red shawl would be entirely appropriate. Once again, thank you for reminding me that there are many others knitting and remembering, Julie

  9. Eva permalink
    24 May 2012 4:24 pm

    Lovely picture of your mom! I remember my mom having this exact same haircut (curls and all) in 1997… For a ferry ride like this, the Peaks Island Hood from Ysolda Teague would be perfect. And it would look lovely in that shade of red.

  10. 30 May 2012 3:46 pm

    Kathleen, my late husband, John, and I knew Jane from the District 18 Caucus. She was a great lady. It is so important to remember, and I am glad you reminded us. Jeff Waldstricker mentioned your blog post over on Facebook.

    I am an knitter, too, and will bookmark your blog to re-visit.

    Happy Birthday, Jane!

    Carmen Vincent

    • Kathleen permalink*
      30 May 2012 3:49 pm

      Thank you so much, Carmen! It’s so good to know that people remember Mom. And, as a fellow knitter, welcome!

  11. Anne Wright permalink
    30 May 2012 3:48 pm

    Afternoon tea should be made compulsory!
    From Anne who you met at P3 last year

    • Kathleen permalink*
      30 May 2012 3:55 pm

      Anne! I agree entirely! Will we you be at P3 this year?

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