Tragedy upon Tragedy

Friends, I apologize in advance, on a number of levels, for this post. First things first, this is not about us — our personal tragedy is largely over for 2020 (knock on wood), but we keep getting touched by terrible news and I have been remiss in not posting about them.

Partially my failing is that these things just keep happening, so just as I’m emotionally able to think about how to address one, another one happens. The overload has kept me from properly addressing any of them. I regret that I was unable to say anything meaningful when I learned of one death while still processing another, and so on. I also regret that I am failing to honor each of them with the time they so deserve by compiling them all in a single blog post. But the alternative is to do several posts, which will require me to wait even longer to honor the memory and the struggle of people who deserve more timely attention.

I am also struggling with the order of operations — should I start with the most recent and most pressing tragedy, or go in chronological order? If the former, I have a better chance of effecting change for those to whom it may still make a difference — but the latter honors people who should have been honored sooner. So please, if you want to help me honor the dead, read on from here. If you want to help those still living, skip to the end. Apologies if that sounds macabre or something.

Rev. Dr. Avery D. Post, 1924-2020

The first tragedy (aside from our home burning down, which is now months in the past) that I have been processing is the passing of my grandfather, Avery Post, on Monday, September 7th. If you are a friend of mine on Facebook, you can see the post I made in the wake of that event. My family, in concert with the UCC leaders, is organizing a memorial for him in Norwich, VT on November 1, but due to Covid restrictions, it will mostly be attended over Zoom. Our family will have a memorial in 2021 when it is safer to gather, at the family plot in the foothills of the White Mountains in NH. You can read his obituary in his local newspaper, and/or the one on the UCC website.

I was able to visit Grandfather in hospice care in NH, a few days before his passing. I held his hand and read Robert Frost poems to him — our shared favorites — and Marcus and I said our goodbyes to this wonderful man who I’ve been so close to throughout my life, who Marcus grew to know and love, and who (as a UCC minister of some renown) married us a decade ago.

Cat Bordhi and a host of guys at the first and only Men Knitters’ Visionary Retreat in 2010

The second tragedy was the passing of one of my knitting mentors, a woman who helped me get my start as a professional knitting designer, the visionary knitter Cat Bordhi. I knew of her work in moebius knitting, and had even tried some, but I didn’t meet her until the first (and only) Men Knitters’ Visionary Retreat in Friday Harbor, WA in early 2010. I was already well into the creation of my first book, but a friend had nominated me to attend this event for aspiring self-publishing knitting authors, and I did. After my presentation to the group, I remember Cat’s words well: “I know 3 knitting geniuses currently working today; I’ve just met the fourth.”

Cat (and by extension, her network of Visionary Authors) has helped me immeasurably over the past decade, as I cemented my place in the world of national-circuit knitting teachers and authors. As she had focused more of her physical presence in South America, I had fallen out of regular touch with her, so news of her illness was a surprise. But, as with so much in her life, she took her impending death with so much grace and humor. She passed away on September 19th, 2020, while we were still raw from the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a tragedy less personal but with wider-ranging effects that you definitely don’t need me to go into here.

Clara Parkes of the Knitters Review has written a lovely memorial post about Cat. I recommend you read it, whether or not you knew her, and you will know her a bit better.

Annie Modesitt, Knitting Heretic

The third tragedy occurred less than two weeks later with the passing of another titan of the knitting world, Annie Modesitt, on October 1. Annie and I were kindred spirits, of a sort, with unconventional and irreverent viewpoints on knitting. Her company, Modeknit, frequently vended my books and patterns when I was traveling to her area for the Interweave or Yarnover shows. She was one of the earliest presenters for the guild I co-founded in Cambridge (the Common Cod Fiber Guild, now defunct), and was always unstintingly supportive of my creative work. Cancer had struck her family before and she was no stranger to loss and grief, but she kept her spirits up and her outlook bright. Her struggle with cancer was also well known and this was the expected outcome — but the loss of one of the leading lights of the knitting world is still difficult, especially for her children who lost their father to cancer less than two years ago. They are using Annie’s Twitter account to keep people updated on the memorial etc.

Andrew & Andrea from Fruity Knitting

I learned of the fourth tragedy today. You may have seen me on the Fruity Knitting podcast back in the early days of Covid-19, and perhaps you saw their outpouring of support and the KAL they started when they heard of our house fire. Andrea and Andrew were struck with a tragedy recently when they discovered that Andrew has an inoperable brain tumor. The future of the podcast is unknown but they are committed to continuing it as long as they are able. It is currently their only source of income, so please consider joining their Patreon at the highest level you are able, or donating to them via Paypal so that they can afford their living and burgeoning medical expenses.

A panorama from Ughtasar, on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, taken on our trip last year

The final tragedy is ongoing, and hardly visible to people in the US as our news cycles are overrun with our insane national election. As you may or may not know, Marcus is half Armenian and half Austrian Jewish, descended from survivors of two different genocides. Culturally, she is more connected to the Armenian side, and we visited Armenia for the first time last October.

Armenia is bordered by hostile countries Turkey and Azerbaijan on two sides, and friendly or at least cordial countries Georgia and Iran on the other two (much smaller) sides. Just over the Azerbaijan border is a large territory the Armenians call Artsakh, but which the rest of the world knows as Nagorno-Karabakh. It is populated with ethnic Armenians and has been for thousands of years. However, it lies within the borders of Azerbaijan and has been the target of conflict in the past, as has the Eastern border of Armenia proper. Recently, Azerbaijan has resumed aggression against civilians in Artsakh — with the backing of Turkey, who perpetrated the last Armenian genocide and still has not taken responsibility — and war seems inevitable. Learn about some of the history by watching this RareEarth video and/or reading the Armenian President’s statement.

Marcus is working with her coworkers at Google to make the biggest difference in fundraising for humanitarian aid for Armenians affected by the current struggle by pushing for donations to the Armenia Fund before November 1st, when Google’s employee donation-matching policy will change. If you have any compassion for the inhabitants of that beautiful and ancient country, please consider donating to one of Marcus’ coworkers’ fundraisers, or if it’s maxed out, the Armenia Fund directly.

If you’re still with me, thank you. I hope to have some knitting-related news for you soon.

3 thoughts on “Tragedy upon Tragedy”

  1. So many good people, so sad. I didn’t know Cat Bordhi but referred to her You Tube tutorials frequently. She will be sorely missed. Sending condolences and hope the worst is over.

  2. This year has been memorable and the listing of your losses was intense reading. Experiencing it was even more so, I am sure. All around me people are experiencing the same kind of losses as well as myself. I am encouraged by your ability to look back and forward at the same time, much like double knitting your life. Here’s hoping there is a pattern change coming our way soon with new techniques we have learned to survive to help. Take care and thank you for sharing your pain and hopes. It helps.

  3. Very sorry to hear about your loving husband’s death
    May God comfort you and your daughter

    Please keep knitting

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