Tuesday, February 8, 2011

For the Love of Blankie!

Austin with his Blankie at Disneyland!
About nine and a half years ago, my best friend (and cousin), Emily, sent me a darling baby quilt for my first child, Emma. It was so soft and cute, very colorful—with orange, pink, and blue—and complete with pink ties and lace trim around the edges. I loved that blanket immensely from the first moment I saw it. I used it all the time for Emma. It was a warm blanket in her crib; it was perfect to spread out on the floor for her to sit on; and it was my favorite thing to wrap around her. When my second child, Julia, was born, the quilt was passed down and continued to be our favorite blanket. When I was pregnant with my third child, a boy, I decided to try and make something boyish to replicate the beloved quilt. But I was unsuccessful in matching the softness, and somehow I found myself reaching for the colorful quilt to wrap around my little Miles. Ironically, he was my first child to really become attached to the quilt. He especially loved the pink ties and the darling lace around the edges! I dragged that quilt everywhere—in airplanes, on car trips, across the country, into other countries! By this point, it was still holding up pretty well despite the numerous washings it had endured and the hours of use it had gone through. Oh, how Miles loved the quilt.

When my fourth child, Austin, was born, I didn’t even attempt to make a replacement. I just pulled out our favorite quilt and wrapped him up in it. Month after month we used it. The older Austin got and the more he loved that thing, the more it started to fray and rip until it seemed the quilt had reached its limits. At first, he enjoyed the small rips. One corner started to come apart, and I’d find him holding that corner and rubbing it on his face. Pretty soon, that corner had a big hole. When the colorful material had worn so thin that the ties all fell through into the middle and the filling started bunching up into huge balls, I decided that it was time for an intervention. So one night after Austin had fallen asleep (wrapped up in blankie, holding onto the corner), I carefully pulled it from him and ran to my sewing machine to make some repairs. Earlier that day I had purchased some needed supplies, and I was ready to do whatever it took to salvage his blanket. Like a surgeon, I sliced it open, removed all of the old batting, added a fresh double layer of new batting, a new soft white side for the back, and then retied the whole quilt with white ties. Then I sewed up the edges, trying to reattach the lace that was falling off, but careful to leave the special little fraying corner alone. It was after midnight when I finished, but the blanket was repaired. I tiptoed back into Austin’s room and lovingly laid the quilt back on top of him. That night, I went to bed very proud of myself, and quite relieved that blankie would live to see another day.
That was over a year ago. By far, Austin has loved the quilt the very most. He is now almost two years old, and there have only been a few times when he hasn’t fallen asleep wrapped up in the folds of our favorite blankie. Since then, blankie has logged even more miles! We’ve taken it to Disneyland, to Hawaii, to Grandma’s house, to church, and all around the house. It is mostly white now, since all of the colorful side has practically disintegrated and ripped off, bit by little bit of material. It has holes; it is usually a little dirty; and it looks a little sad. But that didn’t lessen my horror the other night at bedtime when I discovered that blankie was lost. I ran through our evening in my mind and decided that I had left it at Emma’s basketball game, in an elementary school gym across town. Knowing that it was late and the janitor had long since gone home, I realized that we were facing bedtime without the quilt. To make matters worse, Austin was quite sick, and definitely old enough to say “Blankie”—one of his first words. Greg and I tried other blankets, but Austin threw them off, like, “How dare you try to replace blankie!” He was mad and sick, and I found myself completely heartsick over the loss of our blanket.

That night, I didn’t sleep well. Austin kept waking up coughing and then crying for his blankie. But even when he was asleep, I tossed and turned, stressed about the quilt. In the morning, I called the elementary school. They looked around but didn’t have our blanket. I called the Rec Center to see if they had picked it up after the game. But no luck. I even called the other places we had gone that night in hopes that it would turn up somewhere. I felt a little silly, but I left my name and number each place I called. By the afternoon, I was starting to realize that it was really gone. I decided that an old blanket practically in tatters might not seem important to a janitor. I felt sure that it had most likely been thrown out. Naptime came, but I could not get Austin to settle down and go to sleep. He just kept asking for his blankie in his small hoarse voice. As a last resort, I put the kids in the car and drove to each of the places I had called. I hoped that my sick little Austin would fall asleep in the car, but I also hoped that I would somehow find the blanket even when others could not. After an hour of driving around town, Austin was still awake and we were still without the blanket. I came to terms with the fact that the blanket with which I had wiped tears, rocked babies, and warmed sleeping toddlers for nine and a half years was gone. I felt very sad for Austin. I knew he had lost a major comfort item in his life.

Later that afternoon, I got a call from the Rec Center. My heart skipped a beat even as I answered. To my utter amazement, one of the referees who had cleaned up the gym the night before had just arrived to work for another evening shift. And what did he bring with him? A lonely old blanket he found at the end of the night! Hearts soaring, we all jumped in the van and rushed across town to the Rec Center. Even my older kids were cheering. When I ran in the doors and saw the familiar white heap lumped on the receptionist’s desk, I was so happy!! I grabbed the blanket, pulled it close, and ran out to my waiting kids. Austin’s reaction was priceless. He squealed with delight and hugged his blankie so tightly. Immediately he found his favorite corner and put it to his lips. He didn’t stop squeezing the quilt the entire ride! In my rearview mirror, I couldn’t miss his huge smile. Back at home, I wrapped it around him and sat down in my rocking chair. In an instant he dozed off peacefully. After a little rocking, I laid him gently in his crib, his fingers holding tightly to the lacy edges. I couldn’t help but think how good it was to have blankie back, but I was mostly thinking about Austin’s need for the blanket.

A few days later, Greg found a torn piece of orange, blue, and pink material from the threadbare side of the quilt on my nightstand. I heard him ask me, “I keep finding these around…are you saving this for some reason?” I hesitated for a moment, because it sounded silly to say yes. But the truth is that I haven’t thrown away a single piece of the blanket. Suddenly it dawned on me. I am the one attached to blankie. After all, those have been my arms wrapped around its softness all of these years, my fingers holding its edges to wipe tears, my hands smoothing it atop a sleeping child. I realized that it is really my blanket. It has traveled with me along the bumpy road of motherhood, and I’m so thankful that Emily sent it to me all of those years before. It has been a faithful companion. So, yes, I am saving those little pieces of orange, pink, and blue material tucked away around the house. I never want to forget what it feels like to wrap my babies up in the softness of a mother’s love and an old, but cherished, quilt.
-Rindi :)


weston's said...

I had no idea that the famous blankie came from Emily. That is so fun. When I first moved by Rindi the only way I could get Austin to come by me is if I was holding blankie. I love that thing too. That was fun to read.

Em Russ said...

Maybe "blankie" is like best friends. Old broken in ones are always our favorites!

Kate said...

I love this post, Rindi! You're such a great writer. So nice to see you blogging again. :)

Em Russ said...

P.s. Glad you all love that old thing. I stole the fabric from nat...I still remember sitting in my BYU married student apt making it. Who would have guessed it would be so loved!

Tami said...

What a special blankie! The best part of it is that it had pink ties and lace on the edges. What a sweet memory for your kids! Keep it forever.

Noelle said...

I'm glad you found it! I had a special blankie when I was a kid and I can remember the day perfectly when my bully neighbor stole it from me and ripped a huge hole in it. My mom got to play "surgeon" like you and was able to fix it.

At one point, she made a Christmas tree skirt with all the important fabrics of her life - blessing outfits, flower girl dresses, "first sewing project" fabrics, etc. - A great idea to keep those memories around!

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