There must be 3 dozen blankets in my house. Look no further than my hallway closet if you need to make a blanket rope to scale down your 18th floor apartment during a fire. We have everything from quilts and comforters to knitted throws and fleece that could keep an Eskimo warm. Like most everything else in my house, I am not quite sure how we amassed such a collection but stuffed tightly into closets, folded on the end of beds, and over top of furniture, there they all are.
For the most part, each and every blanket gets used for their intended purpose. Mostly it is my wife, who can’t seem to warm up even when the thermostat in the house is north of the year round climate of the Gobi Desert, using them when she sleeps. But sometimes our blankets become superhero capes (which I may be guiltier of doing than the kids). Sometimes they are laid out to create a bed when everyone else in my house is sleeping in my bed and I get relegated to the floor with the dog (commonly referred to ‘Dad camping’ in my house). Sometimes we use them as roofs for our sofa forts in the basement and some of them adorn our furniture to hide the wear and tear only having two kids, a cat, and a 90 pound dog can do to your furniture. Somehow we manage to use each and every one…except one.
There is one blanket in my house that does not get used by anyone. It is a green and brown crocheted blanket that has been stretched out to the point of allowing my kids to be able to put their hands through the holes in the knitting. The fabric, frayed in some spots and faded in others, bears the look of its 30 year old age. It is small (admittedly, it seemed much bigger when I was much smaller). The fluff of the fabric has been tamped down by years of storage and its best days of keeping anyone warm are long behind it. At first glance, it pales in comparison to the microfibers and fleeces of our regularly used blankets and poses the question of why keep such a wafer of a blanket.
The green and brown crocheted blanket, tightly folded in a corner of my storage chest has earned its place among the rest of the items. Things like my daughter’s Baptism dresses, pictures, lockets, birthday cards with messages written by family members no longer with us, a stack of comic books (I keep hidden so my wife does not find out I put them in the chest). This blanket stays with the rest of our links to the past because this green and brown crocheted blanket belonged to my Grandmother.
I had been digging through the storage chest the other day for reasons unknown to me other than to guess it was something my wife had told me I needed to find and I was out of places to look. I was moving past some of the trinkets, clothing, and flipping through the yellowed pages of the comics books when I came across the blanket. As the storage chest is more of a time capsule than something any of us dig through on a normal basis, it had been years since I had seen the green and brown crocheted blanket.
But there it is, right in front of me. I of course push aside everything else even remotely close to it so I can pull the green and brown crocheted blanket out and hold it. Like a song on the radio or any other items bringing on that feeling of nostalgia, the blanket holds my key to getting back to my Grandmother.
It has been 20 years since she died. Each day of those 20 years seem like a lifetime and yet holding the blanket in my hands, I span the years and back to my Grandmother because 20 years after I had to say goodbye to her, this unassuming blanket still holds a piece of her. I am back in her house. I hear her voice, listen to her singing; I can smell her food cooking in the kitchen. I could tell you exactly how her kitchen had been set up, where the dining room table was, and the design on her dishes, and where the stains of spaghetti sauce were on her white shirt.
The green and brown crocheted blanket also holds the hurt of not having her here. Even after 20 years, the pain of her loss is felt. After 20 years my yearning to hear her voice just one more time has not decreased. After 20 years, I still wish for her to be in the kitchen when I walk in the door from work, cooking and singing and more than likely covered in sauce. The pain reminds me of just how much I miss her.
So I hold the blanket because every moment and every memory of my Grandmother is worth it. It brings back all of the love she brought to my life and I smile. It brings to the surface the ache in my heart that has yet to cease 20 years after her death and I miss her more. I take it all in because who am I to push away a nostalgic moment? If anything, I want to remember more. I want to feel more. I want to smile, I want to laugh, and I want to cry. I don’t want to leave this moment just yet which is why I clutch it a little tighter because I want to squeeze as much time as I can from the green and brown crocheted blanket.