On Tuesday night, we began decorating our Christmas tree, and I hung up some of my most special, most prized ornaments:
I have ten of these incredibly intricate crocheted angels. They are so precious to me not just because they are handmade, but because they were made by someone very dear to me. Leila Claire “Tink” DuVall was a founding member of my first congregation (I am a church pastor) in rural southwest Georgia. It was a small church in a small town, and we were a close-knit little group. Tink lived down the street from our church building, in the nursing home, where she had lived for decades; she was physically-disabled and was in a wheelchair. Every Sunday, she would come down the road in her wheelchair for church.
Tink was a crocheter and a knitter, and I believe she did other handicrafts as well. As you can see, she excelled at the very tiny detail work. She gave these angels to me my last Christmas in Georgia, a week before I moved up here to Ann Arbor. I adore them, and look forward to hanging them on my tree each year. As I hung them up this past Tuesday night, I thought of Tink with gratitude and admiration. I always treasured these angels, but it was only once I learned how to knit and crochet that I truly understood the skill, the work, the time, and the patience involved in making these. There is no way I could ever make one of these angels, let alone ten, let alone the many I know she has made over the years and given away. It truly staggers me to consider.
Last night I got a phone call from Tink’s brother, another person very dear to me. He called to tell me that Tink died on Tuesday, killed when an ambulance that was transporting her to the hospital (due to illness) had a wreck. It is such a shock, and such a loss, and it has weighed on me all day. At the same time, I feel a sense of awe and connection, knowing that on the same day she died, I was thinking of her, touching gifts she had made with her own hands for me years ago, being touched by her life and by her generosity and by the many gifts she gave me and others. I am so grateful to have her legacy gracing our tree, and to have had her life touch mine.