A Memory in Every Stitch

January 21, 2008
By Kristin Collins, Delafield, WI

The rip broke my heart. A tiny rip in the pink, smooth, silk on the corner of a blanket. It wasn’t a considerably big rip; in fact, most people wouldn’t have even noticed such a miniscule flaw. But I did. Because this wasn’t just any blanket. Among the soft white cotton and delicate pink silk, different colored threads spoke of past splits and tears that had been gently repaired. This blanket told the story of my past, a story only I could hear if I held it close and listened.
>My grandmother spent weeks making it, and you could feel the love in every inch. When I was born, the first thing I was wrapped in was that blanket. I was introduced to my relatives, all snuggled up and when my grandpa Erv took me from my mom, he pulled so fast a corner of my blanket ripped. Stitch in, loop, stitch out; my blanket went through its first repair and along with the snow white thread, my grandma was stitching in a memory.
>The bright pink thread, bringing together the white and pink was by far the biggest repair. Simply running my finger along the strands of straight fiber brings back memories of that day. I was two years old, up, walking, and dragging that blanket everywhere. I had even given it a name, “Silky Blanky”, and whenever I needed consoling, whether I was sick or crying, I would sit and rub my the lining on my cheek until things didn’t hurt anymore. But on this day, I didn’t need comforting, I was playing and having fun. And what was more fun than my new Cabbage Patch Doll? Apparently, a flying Cabbage Patch Doll. I tied my “Silky Blanky” around the doll’s neck and dropped her from the top of the stairs, delighted by the sight of my creation soaring down. When the blanket and doll got caught on the banister, my incessant tugging caused the lining to rip away from the cotton, from end to end. I cried for hours holding my blanket, waiting for my grandma to arrive and fix the boo-boo. When she did, stitch in, loop, stitch out, my blanket was whole again and I was given the first memory of my grandma.
>A slightly more jagged line of soft pink on the lower left corner marks my near disposal of my blanket. At seven years old, I had just learned what security blanket meant, and I was ashamed. I was a baby, still sleeping with my blanket every night. Angry, I threw it under my bed, with several other items I’d “out grown”. I swore I would not pull it out ever again, that my days of dragging my childish blanket around were over. Later that night, as I lay in bed unable to sleep, I had a realization. This wasn’t a security blanket, I could go to school without it, I didn’t need it in my sight at all times, I didn’t cry if I couldn’t find it. No, this blanket was a part of me; I couldn’t just leave it alone considering the history it contained. And not having it on the end of my bed meant that nagging feeling that something was missing would stay with me until I knew my blanket was safe. Reaching into the darkness under my mattress, I tugged hard on the soft corner. There was a loud rip as it caught on something under my bed. I slept like a baby with my battered blanket that night, and a week later it was in my grandma’s hands. But this time, she taught me how to sew it. I spent a sunny afternoon in her living room, learning the rhythm. Stitch in, loop, stitch out, and I now had the deeper meaning of my blanket residing in the soft thread.
>The zigzagging white line down the very center tells the saddest story of all. By the time I was fourteen years old, my blanket had traveled with me to New York, Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Oregon, Florida, Texas, and Missouri, to name a few. In every hotel, the sight of my blanket lying on the end of an unfamiliar bed reminded me of home and kept me at ease. After being put on the very top of my suitcase so many times, the zipper wore away at the cotton center. But the uneven stitches weren’t caused by my suitcase. By this time, my grandma was showing signs of aging. Her eye sight was clouded by cataracts, she couldn’t remember where she left things, and worst of all, her hands were shaking. I didn’t need it fixed, in fact I told her I could sew it myself. But she was still grandma and she insisted on once again taking up the task of fixing my beloved blanket. The crooked stitching weeps as it speaks of the hours she spent vainly attempting to fix my blanket, hands shaking, eyes strained. Stitch in, stitch out, no. Stitch in, loop, loop…no. Stitch in, loop…stitch in, no… When she realized it was the last time her failing eyesight would allow her to mend my “Silky Blanky”, she cried, her tears caught and kept by the soft white cotton.
>At sixteen years old, I found a tiny rip in the pink, smooth, silk on the corner of my blanket. It wasn’t a considerably big rip; in fact, most people wouldn’t have even noticed such a miniscule flaw. But I did. Because this wasn’t just any blanket. I took it to my grandma’s house, and as we sat and talked, I sewed the rip myself while her fading eyes watched me and she smiled. Stitch in, loop, stitch out, and I now had the ability to forever keep my “Silky Blanky”. So my memories would never fade; memories of where I’m from, where I’ve been, of the love I’ve experienced, and of the bond between a grandmother and her granddaughter. When I hold my blanket close at night, I can feel the warmth radiating from it and the material speaks to me in my grandmother’s voice. Whispering in my ear everything we had been through, the happy times and the tears, and of the future. My “Silky Blanky” will always be sitting at the end of my bed, just as my grandma will always be in my heart, even after they are both gone from this world.

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