VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: Alzheimer's stole his memory, but he could still knit

We were blessed to receive 2 boxes of items in 2013 that were knit by Irwin Davis, the father-in-law of Amy's aunt Kat Davis. He suffered from Alzheimer's at the end of his life, but he never forgot how to knit.

The last box of donations was shipped to Minnesota from Canada in December 2013, but never reached its destination in Fridley at Kat's sister Linda's house. We hoped it would eventually show up... But the United States Postal Service said it had been delivered, and so that was that.

Until the second week of March. The doorbell rang at Linda's house, and when she opened her door there was the box.


We're so glad it surfaced because it contained the last mittens Irwin knit. It's only fitting they be donated to folks facing their own battles.

Irwin Davis, hard at work knitting.
Amy with the long-awaited box when it finally arrived full of mittens and yarn.
Kat also donated yarn in the box that went missing for 3 months.
The last batch of mittens
The first batch of mittens went to the Harbor Room in Cambridge in January 2013.

I asked Kat about her father-in-law, and here is what she wrote:

My father- In- law Irwin Davis had said he started knitting at the age of about 8 years old and he started by using sharpened popsicle sticks when he learned how to knit. I am assuming he was taught how to knit by his mother.  He knit things to donate to the war effort in WW II . So he would have been approximately 11 at that time. He kept up the knitting for the rest of his life, especially when he retired from the railroad and owned his own Shoe repair business.   I don’t know exactly what he liked about it, I am guessing it was something that was relaxing and that could be done sitting in his chair in his shop or in the corner of the living room. In the past he also made socks and hats, scarves and vests.

Some memories that I have are of him sitting and knitting in the dark because he did not have to see to knit and never used a pattern.  The picture I am sending was taken in 2005, with our dog on his lap and still knitting.  You would always find a knitting needle or 2 down in the sides of his chair, if you needed a scissors, we always knew all you had to do is look in his knitting things.  He made me a multi colored scarf about 8 years ago out of ends of balls of yarn that I still wear ever winter and people are always asking me who made it.

In his later years with the Alzheimer's, he mostly only remembered how to make mittens, but we would find the occasional socks or scarves in his knitting also.  He still would sit in his chair in the corner of his room and knit.



You worked hard each and every day,

For a small amount of CN pay.

Keeping all our family fed,

And with a nice warm bed.

Then one day you had to quit,

So you started to fix shoes, and knit.

Toques, scarves, socks, vests,

And mitts and mitts, oh those mitts.

There was big and small,

And the one size fits all.

You sat there in your chair,

Knitting without a care.

Whistling a tune,

From early morning till noon.

Wednesday was bingo night,

Saturday Hockey night.

Dabbing numbers and watching fights.

For all you did in your life,

You always loved our mom, your wife. 

Today we celebrate the life of you,

But also say a heartfelt adieu.

This is not Goodbye,

But see you later.


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