Picking Up Knitting

August 1, 2011

The July gathering of the Ayden Strouds was the first time there has been a reunion of the family that was not at the occasion of someone’s death. Rather it was the time we all long for when we say, ”Why does it take a death for us to get together?” There was pig and barbecued chicken from the grill, Winnie’s Famous Brownies, Coconut Cake and Banana Pudding. And there were stories, lots of stories. Granddaddy and Grandmother Stroud had three sons, Otto Clay (my Daddy), Walter Lee, and William Richard who was named for Daddy Bill, the family patriarch who fathered 19 children. That is probably why there are rabbits on the family crest. Granddaddy and his sons were in the wholesale grocery business in Ayden. Many of the memories centered around the store. I remember the store well. There were four floors and an elevator that OSHA would surely condemn. It was little more than a platform raised and lowered with pulleys and levers and rope. On one floor were the barrels of Famo flour. Adjoining the office was the Tobacco Room. Like a 12 by12 by 12 humidor, it was filled with Camels and Lucky Strikes and such. I remember the fragrance of Cherry Blend and the cigarette cartons that came at Christmas with cheery photos of Santa and snowmen hiding the danger that lurked unknown at that time inside the package. The Ayden Stroud Cousins, pictured above, shared their memories and the experience was warm and comfortable. We grew up within a three-block radius of our grandparent’s house. On Christmas morning, we would go from house to house to see treasures opened. The now-matriarch of the family, Aunt Joyce, the youngest Stroud wife of the youngest Stroud son, Bill, had more stories, clippings, and pictures than anybody else. We relished in her sharing. William, the youngest cousin, offered a brief genealogy. That we descend from cohorts of William the Conqueror was helpful in understanding the rebel nature that peppers the family. I liken the whole event to knitting. The Knitter begins a garment, knitting and pearling for a day, then sets the kitting aside to be finished at another time. Knitting begun can be continued at any time the Knitter chooses. Every skein of yarn sits ready at the Knitter’s will to be woven into the garment that is family. When the Psalmist writes, “How good and pleasant it is when family dwells in unity…” he was talking to us, all of us, and especially the Ayden Stroud Family Cousins, about the blessing of picking up knitting until the next time we gather. It is the Knitter’s plan that we are woven together as one whole, a family, a people of God. Good and pleasant indeed. May the world know such blessing in the touch of the Knitter’s hand. Amen.

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Pool of Blessing
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The Garden of Eden
July 31, 2011