Cushion Cover

Lately, situations have drifted together to make a moment 20 years ago part of my everyday thoughts. Isolation, anniversaries and new beginnings. The covid year feels a little like when my mother was dying. Surreal. Circling time till it ends. But there was one moment that has stayed with me. In my mother's house...

Mid morning moves beyond the stark shadows of first light. Another day. We have drifted into a time warp of emotional turmoil and a strange normalness. The slow sundering of a life. To be witnessed in collective pain and individual untethering.

These mornings are a new reality managed if endless, but this will not be endless.

After the wash and the new routine of her life, I tidy. Phisical labour is necessary, a deflection, concentrated minutiae. 

So small, frail and dainty. Yes, dainty. Picture perfect. Perched on her air mattress, the hum of the motor. Knees up, arms folded over them. a feminine pose. No flesh to hide the perfect structure of her bones. Small now, but perfect. She's lost in her thoughts. I do not venture past her closedness. 

But now there is an energy, a passionate surge of purpose that takes me by surprise. A little wave of her trembling hand but her eyes have an energy that is beyond question.


Will you bring me my crochet. The cover. I had. You know the one.

I've cleaned every inch of her kitchen while she sleeps. I know where it is. The crochet needle is tethered to the work and yarn below.

Placing it in her hands she lays the unfinished thing before her. Decisions. I'm in awe and broken. In awe of my mother's strength of mind, broken that her body defies her. She perches her glasses on the end of her nose. They teeter dangerously. I want to laugh out loud so enveloped with the tension of impending failure. I don't.  

I am aware, in this moment that nothing else exists in the room, world. I busy myself again and flow with whatever unfolds. She starts to crochet! How many stitches? 10, 11? I see the tremour of her left hand, my hand too, made worse with illness. She doesn't skip a beat. With exagerated drama which is not my mother, she casts off, rips the end of the yarn.

There, I told you I'd do this for you. Done.

I am undone.

Folding her in my arms, she is spent. But this is an Irish Mammy and such affection is a nuisance when instructions for care and how to make and attach a cushion cover require attention and she's on a mission.

I still see her craft that yarn for the last time. Pondering, not the casting off but the breaking of the yarn. Flux in its meaning. Untethering would have been my grief stricken belief but now I see a deep connection. Passing her light, the batton. Your turn. My cushion. I'm taking ownership of something new in these strange times. 



  • definitely evocative; lovely imagery

    Ann Kitching
  • I love this Kate. It’s so vivid, emotional and I love how you spell covid in lower case 🙃 I do it deliberately so it doesn’t loom huge in my life.

  • Thats just lovely Kate, you are truly fabulous and have a way with words.


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