Grandma’s Blanket

Grandma’s Blanket

I’m sitting on my couch under my grandmother’s blanket.

Grandpa passed away in 2003 (in the hospital, not under the blanket, incidentally) and the blanket has been at her house where my parents now live.

One day recently I went to visit my parents and my dad had a stack of blankets for me to go through.

“We’re running out of room. Take some of these.”

He then gestured to three empty Walmart boxes and told me to fill them.

One of the first blankets I reached for was the tan-brown knitted blanket that I remember my grandmother laying under for naps and when she fell asleep on the couch watching the 11 o’clock news. My paternal grandmother weighed about 100 pounds and was probably about 5 foot 1 inches tall. She’d pull her tiny form into a ball in the curved corner of the couch and drape the blanket around her. It would entirely cover her and it’s not a big blanket.

The couch was tan as well and it was a three- or four-piece sectional. The piece she sat in was curved and it’s not a shape I often see in couches these days.

If you looked too fast, you might miss her. That’s how well hidden she’d be under that couch.

I know there were many times I almost didn’t see her when I was checking where she was.

One night, though I can’t remember why, I stayed alone at that house. I believe it was before Grandma died, but my parents were already living there. I curled up in the corner of that couch with all the outside lights on in case someone tried to break in and fell asleep there. Later I wondered how she’d ever been able to fall asleep in that spot, all curled up tight. It was not very comfortable.

The day Grandma died Dad called me from the hospital.

“You said you wanted me to call when she passed,” he said. “So, I am.”

I’d been over in her room earlier in the day.

“I love you Grandma,” I told her as I leaned over her while she slipped in and out of sleep.

“I know,” she said.

She didn’t often say “I love you” back but she may have that day. I truly can’t remember.

I just remember her saying, “I’m so tired, Lisa. So tired.”

She was two weeks shy of turning 94.

“I know, Grandma,” I told her. “Just rest. You can rest now.”

Grandma lived across the hill from us. A drive down a dirt road, a bridge over a small stream, then up another dirt road would bring us to her house – the house Dad and his sisters grew up in.

When I was a teenager and I called Grandma to tell her my mom was sending some food over to her for dinner she’d often hang up without saying goodbye.

The conversations went like this:

“Grandma, Dad’s bringing over some chicken and potatoes Mom made.”

“Okay. Sounds good.”

“She also made some applesauce.”

“Okay. Yep. Mmhmm.”

I’d open my mouth to say something else but the click had already sounded in my ear. She was done with the conversation and had hung up.

Often before she hung up I’d throw in a “I love you” and she’d say, “Yup. Mhmm. Okay then.”

And the click would sound.

One time, though, she said, “Yup. Mhmm. Okay then. Love you too.”

And then the click.

I was flying the rest of the night.

I rushed into the kitchen and told my mom, “Grandma said I love you back!”

It was the best feeling in the world – to actually hear those words.

She showed her love in other ways, though.

In small ways.

In the way she asked how I was or wanted to hear the stories I’d been covering at the newspaper.

In the way she gave me a quilt she’d made years ago for my college graduation.

In the way she didn’t talk a lot about her life but answered questions about it when I asked.

In the way we shared black jellybeans together, even though she said licorice was bad for her blood pressure.

In the way she tipped her head back and laughed at me that day I took her photograph while she sat on the ground next to the ditch behind her house.

In the way she let it slip that one time how she really felt and told me she loved me too.

And even in the hurt I held on to for year – a question about what had happened to me. I used to be so skinny, she said. I don’t think she asked it to be mean, though. She was truly worried. What had happened that was causing me to suddenly gain weight, she wondered. It wouldn’t be until several years after she died that I’d learn my thyroid was dying and leaving the weight on me.

Even though I wasn’t still skinny, my mom always tells me she knows Grandma still loved me. I have a good feeling she is right.

The blanket isn’t super soft.

I don’t know if I’d cover myself with it if it wasn’t full of memories of a love that was quiet when the world was loud.

Quiet when the world was loud.

I’m writing that again for my benefit and maybe yours.

I could use some quiet in the loud right now. Couldn’t you?

So, when I pull that blanket across my lap and up around my shoulders I will think of the action as if I am crawling into a stillness my soul needs.

A stillness that only a quiet love can bring.

A stillness that brings quiet when the world is loud.

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