What is your earliest memory? Mine are somewhat vague, but the all seem to revolve around a sweater. (Although my mother told me later that there was more than one, it didn’t seem like that to me.) This sweater was black (well, it might have been navy blue), and was a cardigan with buttons all down the front. Oh, and it had spangles!
Yep, spangles. Oh, I’m not sure if that’s what they are really called it’s just what I always remember them as. They were round iridescent disks, about a half-inch or so wide, and they were knit into the pattern on the front of the sweater. Hand knit in, mind you. For this sweater wasn’t bought in a store. It was knit by hand, sitting in her floral-print chair in the living room probably. It was a simple sweater, no fancy lace stitches, just those spangles. And it seemed that this woman always wore that sweater. Even when giving a 3-4 year old a bath in the stainless steel kitchen sink at 1 Mistletoe Lane, in Levittown.
Now I’m sure this lady had other sweaters, and that she didn’t always wear it. But when you are only 3 years old, time and space compress into fragments of light and shadow, sound and quiet.
So why should this sweater loom so large? Perhaps because it was different. Maybe because it was shiny. Or maybe it was because of the woman who wore it. Yes, that must be it. Because you see, the woman who owned that sweater, the one who knit it so lovingly, was Elizabeth Bertha Mae Lohrke Smoyer. (Now that’s a mouthful!) She most often went by the name of Lizzie Smoyer. Lizzie was born in May, 1896, in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. She was orphaned at a young age and raised by her grandmother, along with her sister and two brothers. She married at the age of 20, May of 1917, just in time for World War I.
Lizzie loved to bake, to cook, and to knit. (I can relate!) She also loved her family – children, their families, her nieces and nephews, aunts and uncle. So how do I know all this? Oh, I guess I forgot to tell you – Lizzie was my grandmother. Now you are probably thinking that I spent a great deal of time with her, hearing her stories, doing things with her. It would make sense. But sadly, Mom-Mom died when I was just turning three. Even so, the memories of Mom-Mom Smoyer are warm with love and caring. And full of that sweater! (My cousin, Ray, can substantiate that – he remembers those sweaters, too!)
Funny, even over 50 years later, I still miss her, but rejoice in knowing that one day I will meet her again in heaven. Thank you, Mom-Mom. I love you.