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My Aunt June

A surprise scrap of love, found in a thrift-store bargain bin

Aunt June was always there for me growing up. She wasn’t really my aunt—she was one of my mother’s best friends. But she was more like family. She saw me through dance recitals, first dates, and made sure I was well-polished in table manners and full of southern charm. I loved to watch her knit, her hands deftly gliding the needle in and out, turning mere yarn into beautiful things.

When I was pregnant with my first child, Aunt June told me she wanted to knit a blanket for my baby. But she never had the chance. She passed away that summer, a few months before my baby girl was born.

I thought about my aunt as I rocked my newborn in my arms. Aunt June would’ve loved to be part of this, I thought. I wished my baby could have felt the love and care that Aunt June had given to me for all those years.

Two years later I was expecting another child. I vowed that this time I would try to knit a blanket like Aunt June would have made.

One day, after a visit to the doctor, I ran to the local thrift store to buy some yarn. They had a used yarn bin that I would sometimes pick from. I dug around, looking for a bargain.

Then I saw it, a big bag of cream-colored yarn with a pair of needles—and it was only one dollar and 98 cents! Someone had even started knitting a pattern for a blanket.

I bought it and headed home. I was so exhausted when I got back that I tucked the bag of yarn into the closet and forgot about it.

A few weeks later I planned to visit my mother. I should bring that yarn with me; I’ll have time to knit over there, I thought. I reached into the closet and pulled out the bag.

When I took the yarn out at my mother’s house, a piece of paper fell from the bag and fluttered to the floor. What is that? I wondered. I squatted down and picked it up.

It was a knitting pattern for a baby blanket. And in the corner, the person who started it had written her name: June Gerst. My Aunt June.

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