My dollhouse was holy. No one was allowed to touch it. I would know in a heartbeat if something was out of place. I made a braided carpet for the living room. I had a table and chairs for the kitchen. But I never acquired kitchen appliances. And I do not recall having a dollhouse bathroom. I drew pictures and hung them on the walls. I cut out a watch out from a magazine and hung it on the back of the bookcase and it served as a clock. There were no stairs. It didn’t look that much different from our apartment. But no one yelled in my dollhouse. In fact, no one spoke. It was quiet. It was perfect.
I was six years old before I met her. She finally came from Israel to meet her grandchildren. My bubbie came on a Sunday, her head covered. But when she was getting ready for bed, she took her kerchief off and I saw her brush her hair. She did not have one gray strand.
Monday morning came and I had to leave for school. I was reluctant. No one had showered me with love before. No one blew kisses at me and smiled warmly. This grandma, however, was not shy and she squinted her eyes, kissed my forehead, and said:
I thought that geshmackta was the name for the type of kiss she gave me, her lips closing in with a smack and warmth that started at the site of the kiss and penetrated my soul. It was only a little while ago that I came to understand that: “Ai, geshmackta” means “Oh, delicious!” inYiddish and that this grandma, who did not know me, was calling me “Delicious!”
When I came home that Monday late afternoon, my bubbie was gone. She went on to visit her other grandchildren. But when I went to my dollhouse, there was a bright pink and cornflower blue blanket on the big bed. Evidently my grandmother had asked my mother for scrap yarn and she took the time to crochet that blanket for me. I learned another important lesson about love that day. I realized that even though my grandmother could not communicate with me in words, she “got” me. She recognized how important that dollhouse was for me. She chose to make me something to show me that she understood me. And I learned what loved felt like.
Maybe that is why I learned how to knit and instead of making sweaters I focused my efforts on making afghans and throws for all the people who I love. When my daughter went off to college, she went armed with a beautiful wool blanket so she would be warm even if the dorm was drafty. When my daughter got engaged, I asked her to pick a pattern and colors and I made her an afghan as part of her engagement gift. When my grandson was born, I made him a cotton baby blanket and a wool blanket for the carriage. Then I made him a throw when he moved into a real bed. I just finished a blanket for my granddaughter. It is a dusty teal, the perfect color to offset her light complexion, burnt sienna eyes, and strawberry blond curls.
My granddaughter aptly calls blankets “cozies.” So, I am giving her the teal blanket for her third birthday. And I have a date with my granddaughter. On her seventh birthday, I will take her to the knitting store and teach her beginning knitting. On her tenth birthday, I will help her make her first afghan.