Mom’s Stained-Glass Window

Mom’s Stained-Glass Window

From Chicken Soup for the Grieving Soul

Mom’s Stained-Glass Window

Without faith, we are as stained-glass windows in the dark.


Pat Lewis drove slowly down the country lane that led to Willow Heights County Home. The beauty of the New Jersey countryside—trees ablaze with color, mashed-potato clouds in a blue sky, winding little streams sparkling in the bright sunshine—cut into her heart. This was the kind of day that Mom would have loved. Pat’s mind drifted back over the past few years.

She’d not expected to miss her mom so much. She’d always thought those lunches out, appointments with the hairdresser, impromptu shopping excursions or even grocery shopping trips were mainly for her mom’s benefit. But over the past years, Pat had come to enjoy and even look forward to those times.

Her mom hadn’t made any lasting friendships while she was married. Then, widowed ten years, she found herself lonely and alone, except for her daughter Pat, son-in-law Tom, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who lived in faraway places. Living in Willow Heights County Home, she was surrounded by ladies in the same situation. Somehow, this did not draw her to any of them. Even though Willow Heights offered a planned schedule of social activities, Mom preferred to sit in her tiny living room and crochet.

Pat’s parents had both immigrated as toddlers from Germany to America with their parents. Her mom had been a typical German hausfrau. She had cleaned, cooked, washed and ironed, scrubbed floors, baked bread and shined shoes, raised two children, and been grateful that she had been given the opportunity to do so. She’d lived in the same little, white-frame house all her married life. Every Sunday they attended the German Lutheran Church, only two blocks away.

Perhaps attending those services spurred her desire for a stained-glass window. She never really asked for anything, but once in a while she contemplated out loud how nice a small stained-glass window would look in the front door, the top part of the big living-room window or even the small window above the kitchen sink where the morning sun streamed through. No one ever took her desire seriously. Actually, it became a kind of family joke.

When Christmas drew near, or it was her birthday, someone would be sure to laugh and say, “Why don’t we get Mom a stained-glass window?”

Through it all, her ninety-year-old fingers kept twisting and working her crochet hook, turning out jackets, coats and afghans. The afghans were the first to confuse her. They were too big to hold in her lap, and three-quarters of the way through, she could not remember the pattern. She crocheted three coats in a herringbone pattern. The last one, in shades of blue, had one arm finished in variegated colors simply because she had run out of the color she was using. Pat had unraveled it, and her mom immediately started to crochet pieces ranging in size from pot holders to pillowcases. Whenever she decided it was the right size, she simply edged it in a three-looped fan-shaped border and called it finished. Some of these strange little pieces were a good three inches wider at one end.

Emerald green, holly-berry red, deep violet, golden yellow and sapphire-blue skeins of yarn were quickly crocheted into ungainly squares.

Then, six months ago, Pat’s mom suffered a massive heart attack and died in her sleep. Pat stuffed all the little pieces into a plastic trash bag and gave them to the supervisor, Mrs. Connelly, at Willow Heights. Perhaps a little splash of color under a flowerpot, or in some spot of the room of a resident, would add a note of cheer. Pat was just glad to get rid of the awkward pieces.

Pat pulled into the driveway of Willow Heights to attend the annual fall craft show featuring crafts made by the residents. She hadn’t wanted to go, but Mrs. Connelly had insisted. As Pat entered the cafeteria-turned-showroom, Mrs. Connelly took her by the arm.

“I’m so glad you came,” she said excitedly. “This is our best show ever! We’ve done something this year we never did before.”

“And what is that, Mrs. Connelly?” Pat asked politely.

“Just you wait and see,” the supervisor said as she steered Pat to the far end of the room where a small crowd had gathered. They were admiring a large afghan displayed on the wall. Pat gasped in astonishment. It was her mom’s little crocheted pieces all joined in a yellow chain-stitch and edged by a three-looped, fan-shaped border.

“We raffled it off,” Mrs. Connelly went on. “It’s the first time we’ve ever had anything big enough to do that.”

Pat stared as if hypnotized at the beautiful afghan. She could visualize Mom in her recliner, crocheting the little, crooked squares.

“You know,” Mrs. Connelly said quietly, “as the afghan took shape, it seemed to assume a definite personality. Almost everybody in the home worked on it.”

Pat couldn’t take her eyes from it. The yellow yarn was the color of autumn sunshine and made the brightly colored squares look like . . .

Mrs. Connelly’s voice cut into Pat’s thoughts. “They’ve already decided what they’re going to do with the money,” she said. “They want to put a little stained-glass window in the wall, right in back of the altar where they can all see it.”

Pat’s lips quivered, and her tearful eyes were riveted on the afghan.

Mrs. Connelly looked at Pat quizzically. “Pat,” she said softly, “would that be okay? Do you think your mother would like that?”

“She’d just love it.”

Katherine Von Ahnen

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