Sister Brazil was her name. At least that’s what I remember calling her all those 70 years ago.
“Come and sit here, child,” she would say with her hands.
I left my spot on the grass where I was sitting alone and went over to where she was perched on the bench crocheting while she watched the other little girls playing in the field. I couldn’t play with the other little girls because I wasn’t well enough or strong enough.
“Don’t let her get excited,” was one of the last things I heard my mother say before she left.”Her heart can’t take it.”
The edges of the field in front of me were covered with flat white flowers, a tablecloth of “Queen Anne’s Lace.” I don’t remember any fragrance from the flowers, but I remember the garlic and cabbage fragrance of Sister Brazil.
She gave me a fat smile from out of her fat face with so much kindness that I could have cried.
She then reached down and leant over me from behind, her breasts pressing on my back and her arms coming around to reach in front of me. Silently, she slid her crochet hook into my left hand and, with her yarn looped over the fingers of her right hand, put both her hands over mine.
She then began guiding and turning our hands in unison, deftly moving the yarn over and around the crochet hook.
She/I/we were crocheting.
Surrounded by Sister Brazil’s warm body I was no longer the little girl in the bed across the field in the orphanage dormitory, afraid to sleep, afraid to cry, afraid that if I felt anything I would get swallowed up by my loneliness.
Instead I was a little girl being held in the cave of Sister Brazil’s love.
In the timelessness of the moment and the focus that can sometimes spontaneously occur only when we are children, I looked at the crocheted chain Sister Brazil and I were making and in my 3-year-old mind time and space fell away.
I no longer saw a crocheted chain that was bound by the amount of time I would sit there with Sister Brazil. Instead I saw a crochet chain that had no end. No end at all.
While sitting on the edge of a field covered with St. Anne’s Lace at an orphanage just outside of Philadelphia, thanks to the simple kindness of a Hungarian nun, I had an experience of eternity.
Author Bio: Carmelene Melanie Siani
Carmelene writes stories from every day life and how life itself offers lessons to help us grow, expand, and put our feet on higher ground.