Rembering Gerber knives and a dear friend

Yesterday, April 23, 2014, would have been my mother’s 100th birthday. She died in 2011 at the age of 97. My first grandchild, who would have been her second great-grandchild, was born just a week earlier, on April 16. His name is August Theodore Holden.

Among the items I discovered when I went looking for the baby clothes I had set aside after my girls outgrew them was a sweet little circular blanket knitted with pastel yarn and topped with a yellow pompom. Who made that? I wondered, then saw the tag: “Made especially for you by Judy Weinsoft”.2014-04-24 08.14.24

I met Judy when I was a student at Berkeley. At that time of my life, I didn’t have a clue how to relate to other people, and I was entirely wrapped up in the man who would become my first husband and the father of my children. But Judy saw something in me and made a special effort to become my friend, and when I moved to Portland, where she had grown up and to where she returned after receiving her librarianship degree, we rekindled our friendship.

Judy’s father was engaged in a business that seems quaint to us now; he sold and repaired small appliances. Of course, today we never repair small appliances, we just toss them and buy new ones. Anyway, Judy’s father was able to order some Gerber knives for us wholesale, which was important as they were quite expensive. I still remember poring over the various knives in the catalog with their evocative names like Excalibur and Pixie.

Nearly 40 years later, I am still using those knives. The handles, which are also metal, show signs of wear, but the blades are as sharp as ever.

This Gerber knife's name is, simply, "Franch."

This Gerber knife’s name is, simply, “Franch.”

Judy died early, tragically, of breast cancer while she was still in her thirties. She was such a good woman, cheerful and caring, doing volunteer work when I, even before I had children, couldn’t seem to find the time.

I miss her to this day. I’m not going to give that baby blanket to Maggie, the new mother. I’m going to keep it.

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