James W. Guthrie, a tax attorney then serving as bishop of the San Rafael 2nd Ward, San Rafael California Stake, lost his wife, Bonnie, to leukemia in the fall of 1993 after 26 years of marriage. He then took on another challenge in honor of her memory and to keep a promise she had made to their 2 1/2-year-old granddaughter, Erica. Many hearts have been touched by his example of devotion.
Sister Guthrie frequented a shop to purchase yarn sometime in 1992, returning for help a time or two. She had promised her first grandchild a "blankie," but only managed to complete a narrow row of the complicated afghan pattern before becoming too ill to complete it.In part because it might be therapeutic to work on the afghan and also because Erica kept asking about her "blankie," Brother Guthrie returned to the yarn shop in November 1993, and told the owner of his wife's death. He then said, "She didn't get to finish it; I'd like to finish it for her."
The owner was incredulous because the afghan's clustered pattern was tricky, one that even her most expert clients would shy away from, she said. She told Brother Guthrie it would be difficult to teach him because she is left-handed. He said he was confident he could do it with her help, because he was a "southpaw," too.
In May 1994, Brother Guthrie returned to the yarn shop. He pulled from his beloved wife's paisley crochet bag a six-square-foot throw that would soon be displayed at a ward Relief Society meeting, and asked his instructor to accompany him to the unveiling.
Noting that finishing the afghan not only demonstrated his devotion to his wife but was also therapeutic, Brother Guthrie explained, "It helped me to remember her, and it got me through some very hard times."
He is sure she knows he finished it. "On some days, I felt like she was even there helping me," he said. Acknowledging it was a long haul, he emphasized, "I knew how pleased Bonnie would be to have this done."
Brother Guthrie, now a high councilor, says he is crocheting another afghan of soft blue yarn his wife bought at the same time she got the yarn for the first afghan. The second one was promised to her son, James W. Guthrie Jr., and daughter-in-law, Carole, but it might become a "blankie" for 1-year-old grandson James III, Brother Guthrie said with affection and delight.