The prayer shawl.

I stood in line at the Post Office in Boomtown yesterday morning. I had been avoiding the chore for a few days, having received a note in my mailbox out here in the country letting me know that I had a package to pick up in town.

I thought it was the print cartridges I ordered or maybe some photographs. I thought it could wait.

Because standing in line at the Post Office in Boomtown is an errand that ranks right up there with attending your root cannel appointment or using that little plastic baggie to pick up the poop your dog just deposited on the walking path near the park while people drive by, watching…judging.

Anyway, welcome an extra 7,000 people into what was once a town of 1,500 three or four years ago and some services are bound to suffer.

At least we’re all in it together.

At least I get to hear some great southern accents while I chat with my fellow postal service patrons about the weather, the roads and the damn long line.

I was expecting much of the same as I pulled into the parking lot yesterday, grabbed my purse and my packages and prepared myself to wait. I was pleasantly surprised to find just a few friendly neighbors standing in line and happy at the thought that the timing for my visit just might have saved me an extra forty-five minutes.

So I stood patiently by the envelopes and boxes, checked email on my phone and ran the list of things I needed to get done today through my head:

Write column, pick up milk, hang posters, plan lunch meeting, call Little Sister back, think about dinner, update websites, I should take a walk, try to get home before dark so I can take a walk, get paint for the entryway, send in my time sheet, return emails, edit photos, craft club, oh yeah, I have craft club this week, make snack for craft club, cat food, do we need cat food?

Oh, ok, I’m up.

I handed the postal worker my envelopes and the little pink slip that told her a package had arrived for me. She disappeared in the back while I fumbled through my purse for some cash. I looked up and she handed me a large, rectangle box. Too big to be my print cartridges, not the right shape for photos.

“What did I order?” I wondered out loud as I took the package from her hands and glanced at the return address.


My grandparents are in Arizona. Huh. The package is from my gramma. My gram sent me something from Arizona on an ordinary Tuesday in March.

I shook it a bit, my curiosity peaked as I hurried past the line of people who had quickly congregated in a neat row behind me. I flung open the door and trudged through the melting snow to get to my car, sat down behind the wheel, threw my purse in the seat next to me and anxiously ripped open the box, pulling out a soft object wrapped in tissue paper.

Carefully I peeled back the paper to reveal soft purple yarn knitted in tight weaves and a note that read…

Dearest Jessie, 

All winter long I have pictured you sitting at home in your chair writing your column and journal and composing music. So enclosed you will find a purple shawl (a good color for you). It’s a prayer shawl. It is to keep you warm and comfortable–to make you feel good deep inside as well as on the outside. 

It is made with love and some mistakes! As I did the knitting my thoughts were about you, Jessie, our wonderful, talented granddaughter.

All my love, 

Gramma G

Tears sprung to my eyes right there in that busy, slushy parking lot in Boomtown as cars pulled in and out, people rushed to appointments, to the grocery store, to meetings, to school and to pick up their children from daycare on time. My grandmother’s handwriting expressing her thoughts about me on a  note card embellished with golden butterflies made me think of her sitting by the window, her knitting needles on her lap and the warm Arizona sun shining on her face.


I buried my face in the shawl, breathing in her smell, thinking of her thinking of me and the worry that had been lodged in the center of my guts for weeks was replaced by a very palpable feeling of calm and an overwhelming appreciation and love for my Gramma who once taught me to knit and who always, always makes sure her grandchildren know she’s proud of them.

To know that you are in someone’s thoughts, to know that you are loved this much, is a blessing I wish upon everyone.

My Gramma G. has always been one of the brightest and most positive lights in my world. If I would have known her hug was waiting for me in that post office at the moment I needed it the most I would have dropped everything and run there to receive it.

I would wait in line for hours for a gift like this.

Thank you Gramma. I love it. I absolutely love it.

And I love you too.


16 thoughts on “The prayer shawl.

  1. Jessie ~ I have made over 300 prayer shawls in the last 5 years for cancer patients, so I know the love & prayers go into the making (knitting) of the shawl. My husband passed away 2 years ago after fighting pancreatic cancer for 3 years. I knit many shawls when he was hospitalized or sitting in the waiting room waiting for appointments. Your grandmother picked a beautiful color for you! Bobbi Miller – Dickinson

  2. My grandmother taught me to knit and I still knit. Your gift is a precious reminder of how lucky we are to have people who love us and think about us. I was worried about your “sadness” and I have that, too. But, you work your way through it and thank God that the sun will shine again and that you have someone special to give you this gift of herself.

  3. Jessie, I have known your grandparents since i met Ginny at the Gamma Phi House at UND. I was welcomed into their household, and cleaned house, babysat, baked and made supper for them the days I was at their house. It was my ‘home away from home’ while I was in college. I had a great time visiting with her at a Gamma Phi gathering on Lake Melissa this summer. You are blessed to have her as a Grandma.

  4. What a wonderful story! Whatever worries you or makes you sad……I will say a prayer for you. Remember how you felt when you recieved the prayer shawl….God’s way of saying it will be OK.

  5. Oh, I absolutely love this! Your Gramma G has the most wonderful way of making people feel loved. She’s such a special lady! What a beautiful gift she gave you!

  6. Tears are flowing here in MI; what a gift, not just the beautiful shawl, but the love knitted into every inch of it. Her words are a treasure; you are blessed my friend.


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