A Blanket for Mimi
There is a very special little girl in Chalfont – a very special fourth grader, a little kid that I will never forget. Jessica’s mom, Vicki, called me in November and said that in lieu of the razzle-dazzle of receiving birthday gifts for her 10th birthday party, Jess asked her friends to bring things that she could donate to my project STORIES FOR SENIORS. They wanted to bring the holiday gifts of cheer to the elderly and disabled residents of senior living facilities – folks who sit in wheelchairs with S-shaped curvature of the spine and chest-to-hips braces prescribed to keep some semblance of normal body alignment.
And for the others, the younger men, who don’t seem to “belong there.” There are always a couple of burly younger fellows, with handsome faces and muscular upper body physiques. I wonder if an act of violence landed them in motorized wheelchairs – sentenced to a life of dependency and life far away from what other men their age are doing. I often think of the hot and itchy torment that many residents endure. Of the pain-filled recovery that follows operations. of the depression that often follows a stroke.
And, I imagine what it is like not to have your own family at your bedside, around the clock, to tend to personal needs and fears. Oh my, I can not even fathom, the lack of the familiar things of your past life….when someone brought you a teacup pulled from your own cupboard, and an afghan that had been draped over your couch in the living room. I always note the people who do not respond to anything. Not anxious, not sad, not sleepy…..not anything but “blank.” Folks who probably just a few years ago had close-knit friends, shared a kiss, sipped hot chocolate and cozied up with their family in the simplicity of their own living room, near a pinecone-fed fire at Christmas time.
Little Jess didn’t know me. Her mom didn’t know me. And have you ever heard of a kid that did not want presents for her birthday? But the mom had insight into the hullabaloo that was going on worldwide to celebrate Christmas and she knew from her work as a nurse, working with the impoverished, that Christmas was not universally celebrated…..not for some of the forgotten in nursing homes.
She knew that the residents were a lifetime away from homemade soup with homemade bread, a car pulling into their driveway for a surprise Christmas visit and feeding hummingbirds scraps of bread after breakfast.
And Vicki wanted to show by example that Christmas is about giving….and in this case, birthdays are, too.
On the day of the party, Jess, her best friend Mary Grace and a bunch of other happy little girls went to a local craft store to celebrate the birthday in the party room. They had ice cream and cake and sang Happy Birthday. They made lots of tissue paper flowers for the residents that I visit in nursing homes. They also made the usual craft provided by the party planner at the craft store. Just think, the mom requested that they make something for me to pass out.
A week before Christmas, Jess and her mom came to my house laden with bags and bags of gifts that they collected from the birthday party as well as from friends who wanted to chip in. And, what I know is that lots of the trinkets and treasures were purchased by the sweet little girl who wanted to share with the elderly for Christmas cheer. It probably took us 15 minutes to go through the bags, as Jess explained why she thought that the residents would especially like the snow globes, music box, sugar-free candy, lotions, and other wonderful items.
And there was one special item – something that was vibrantly colored like a peppermint candy cane. It was a beautifully crocheted red and white striped candy cane-like blanket!
I had lots of visits scheduled for the week before Christmas and I passed out most of the things – except for two of Jessica’s big bags and the candy cane blanket. Jess and her mom wanted to join me on a visit the week after Christmas – when school vacation allowed them both some time off.
So on the appointed Saturday morning, Jess, her mom and Mary Grace hopped into my van and off we went on our mission of joy, to bring Jess’s birthday gifts to the people who needed them – the people who needed to see the innocent little faces, the smiles of little angels and the voices of the two little girls singing songs that they had sung in the Christmas morning choir of their parish church.
For many of the residents, it had been a long time since sparkling little eyes gazed into theirs and asked, Would you like this present?
We sang and laughed and passed out gifts. Then we went from room-to-room doing more of the same. Jess and Mary Grace passed out items of loving kindness: stuffed dogs, other furry animals, lotions, snow globes and candy.
There was one last gift – a very special gift that still needed a “new home.” The red and white blanket that had been lovingly made by Jess and her mom. Right about the time that the mom initially called me, they had joined a church ministry and began working on the blanket. They wrote a poem to accompany the blanket but we could not give it to just anyone. It had to be for someone who really needed it, appreciated it and would understand that it had been crocheted, prayed over and created with the true holiday love and the meaning of Christmas.
We looked around the room and we knew that this blanket was meant for Mimi. She was a tiny lady with white hair and seated in a wheelchair. She had all of her cognitive abilities. I noticed that she was especially engaged in all that the little girls were doing during the hour we were there. Maybe she saw herself as a child as she watched the little girls truly doing God’s work on that cold December morning. Maybe she watched the two little Girl Scouts with the same attention that she had watched her own little girls more than six decades earlier.
Would you like this blanket?
For me? What?
We made this blanket and we want you to have it.
Mimi smiled and tears came to her eyes. Then Jess took out the paper with the poem that expressed the sentiments, about what the blanket means. About the covering, God’s covering, that had been woven in with each stitch. About the comfort, love and caring that the candy cane blanket meant to them as they wove the stitches.
Jess was going to read the poem but Mimi piped up, I can read it.
She started to read it and began crying. The words, the red and white blanket, the fact that out of all of the residents there, the little girl chose her – chose her to receive the special gift. The gift of the candy cane colored blanket.
I wish you could have been there. We can not take pictures but I think for Jess and her Mom, the picture of Mimi and the red and white blanket could not be captured on film anyway. You just had to be there. I am so glad that I was! I am so happy just thinking of the lives that Jess’s little birthday gifts have touched.