This morning my 4-year-old daughter and I went to visit my 106-year-old aunt. I held my daughter’s hand as we walked down the long hallway to my aunt’s room and told her not to be afraid. As we walked, I also noticed the personal objects in people’s rooms. The items they bring with them.
Always there are pictures of family, some framed and hung on the wall and others simply scrapbook pages taped to a door. Some people bring practical pieces of furniture or better pieces of artwork. In many of the rooms there are also afghans, a familiar blanket to put over a lap while watching television or to cover the bed.
Seeing all the afghans made me think of a recent Facebook post I wrote: “We found flowa blankie!”
My daughter’s blanket, a furry, fleece thing she has owned since she was an infant, is covered in purple flowers. “Flowa blankie” had been outside for weeks, stuck in some plastic push car we hadn’t used in a while. It was in the wind and the rain, beneath the falling debris as the roofers repaired the roof.
For some reason I am having trouble sorting out, I seem to attach emotion and human feelings to it, like a dog that has been lost, wandering the neighborhood, and now is found. The blanket is home, safe, laundered and folded at the foot of her bed.
Thinking about my daughter’s blanket, lost and now found, made me think about what I would take with me to the old folks’ home, with aerobics we do in chairs, a parrot in the common area and a hair salon on site.
I decided that I would take some family photos, my favorite chair, the one where I nursed my children and read them bedtime stories, a stack of books, the ubiquitous back issues of The New Yorker and my wedding band. Then something came to mind that surprised me: my Notre Dame class ring.
“OK,” I then thought, “why my class ring?”
I realized that my class ring was a transitional object for me. I wore it every day and every night of the last two years I was at Notre Dame. At some point, when I was a professional with my own apartment and my own grown-up life, I stopped wearing it.
I don’t exactly know when, but it just didn’t seem as important anymore. Like a child who no longer carries a favorite blanket around the house, I felt foolish wearing it all the time. Still, my class ring is not forgotten, and I am comforted knowing that it is there in my jewelry box, on a shelf in my closet.
My grandmother says life always comes down to one room. When it’s time for me to walk down the long hallway to my room in the nursing home, I figure I’ll take my class ring with me. And although I don’t own any afghans, if “flowa blankie” is still around, I think I’ll take it with me too.
Maraya Steadman, who lives in a Chicago suburb, is a stay-at-home mother of three children. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.