There is an old denim shirt that many years ago was stiff and a dark indigo—it is now the palest blue, soft as cashmere, and getting very thin along the seams, but oh, putting that old shirt on signals comfort and bliss.
The shirt originally belonged to my husband and was a gift to him from a very dear friend. When he, um—outgrew the garment, he asked if I wanted it. It has become an old favorite that combines good memories of both him and the friend from whom it came.
We have an old quilt that Ike owned when we were married. In asking his family about its history, it was made by his grandmother probably in the 1930’s or 1940’s. Knotted rather than quilted, it is lined with red flannel, the blocks are out of heavy woolen fabric, and Ike’s aunt thinks the batting is probably some old blankets that were worn out.
Crawling under this quilt immediately makes me feel warm both inside and out. It always makes me think of “Ma Mary” who was quite a character. She had grown up in the Panhandle, lived and worked on the big ranches there. She was a “pretty tough cookie” but one night she was in the car with us, it was quiet and she suddenly broke into an enthusiastic version of “Home on the Range” and insisted that we join in.
My mom always kept Werther’s hard candies in her purse and pockets and was always handing them out to people. The next winter after she passed away I reached into the pocket of a jacket I hadn’t worn in a long time and there were several Werther’s candies—I sort of teared up at first, then popped one of them in my mouth and felt like my mom had just given me a big hug. I still love those candies and think of her.
A ragged denim shirt, a tattered quilt, and buttery candies-all things that remind me of comfort and a conversation from the children’s book by Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit.
The Skin Horse is explaining to the Velveteen Rabbit how one becomes Real:
“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Comfort—well, these things may seem silly as things that bring me comfort, but they do and especially the memories of such special people that have made me feel safe and loved and Real.