Pearisburg mother knits to honor memory of her son
“Knit one, pearl two” has never held so much meaning.
It’s an action most knitters perform without thinking but will forever be connected to the heart of Janice Davis.
As she goes through each day, Davis thinks of her son Mark Davis.
She remembers his “jokester” personality, humble smile and home-centered mind-set.
Janice Davis lost her son in 2000 at the age of 42; however, the past 13 years have put him no farther out of her mind.
“He was my baby,” Davis said as a tear rolled down her cheek. “It’s not rare for people to lose a child, but when it happens to you it’s rare because you don’t expect to have to bury your children.”
Mark Davis grew up in Pearisburg with his mother; father, Bill; and brother, Mike.
He made a career as a welder in Indiana, where he worked repairing stadiums.
According to his mother, he had a humorous spirit that could bring joy to anyone he came in contact with.
Two months ago, Janice Davis decided to channel her grieving to aid those in need. She spends her days knitting toboggans — about three a day — to donate to a homeless shelter in Roanoke.
“It is therapy,” Davis said. “It’s really helping me.”
Davis originally planned to donate 100 toboggans in the fall in honor of her son. When word reached her sister of the plans, she asked Davis to make 100 more in honor of her daughter, Joni Frazier, who died three years ago.
Although her task is now doubled, Davis believes she can still achieve her goal.
Davis spends her time knitting the toboggans whether she is sitting in her home in Pearisburg or riding in the car.
She knows the toboggans will be appreciated for the warmth but decided to give them something extra.
She hopes the bright colors and fuzz balls that adorn the top of each toboggan will also bring some happiness.
Donating the toboggans was not a random decision. When Mark Davis fell on hard times, he found a temporary home in a Roanoke shelter. Davis feels it’s what her son would have wanted.
“I wanted to do something that I thought would be something Mark would want me to do in his name,” Davis said.
Currently, Davis has made more than 50 toboggans. Twenty were given to her sister to save for donation in her daughter’s name.
The rest are displayed on Davis’ table. They serve as a symbol of a mother’s never-ending love and a life being remembered.
Davis and her son had a loving connection. Although life may have taken him away from Pearisburg, his heart was always at home.
“He was very close to me,” Davis said. “He had his problems, but he was still my son.”
Davis is a local artist who has been honored for her paintings by members of the community.
When asked about her paintings, Davis quickly moved the attention from her life to her son’s.
“This isn’t for me,” she said. “This is for Mark.”
– By Jenna Nichols, Special to The Roanoke Times