Gramma’s Blanket from Heaven

Gramma’s Blanket from Heaven

From A 6th Bowl of Chicken Soup for the Soul

Gramma’s Blanket from Heaven

I couldn’t have been more than seven years old the night I climbed out of bed and tiptoed downstairs to look for my grandmother. Gramma liked to sit up watchingMarcus Welby, M.D., and sometimes I’d sneak down in my pajamas, stand quietly behind her chair where she couldn’t see me and watch the show with her. Only tonight, Gramma wasn’t watching TV. Nor was she in her room when I returned upstairs to look for her.

“Gramma?” I called, my young heart pounding with alarm. I couldn’t ever remember wanting my grandmother when she wasn’t right there to answer the call. Then I remembered Gramma had gone on an overnight trip with some friends. That made me feel better, but there were still tears in my eyes.

I dashed back to my room and burrowed beneath the afghan Gramma had crocheted, as snug and warm as one of her hugs. Gramma will be home tomorrow, I comforted myself. She wouldn’t ever go away and not come back.

Since before I was born, Gramma Rosie had lived with our family: my mom and dad and my older brother, Greg. We lived in Holland, Michigan, and when I was in the fifth grade, we bought a big new house. My mom had to go to work to help with the mortgage.

Lots of my friends went home to empty houses after school because both their parents worked. But I was one of the lucky ones. My mom’s mom was always at the back door waiting for me with a glass of milk and a thick slice of buttery banana bread piping hot from the oven.

Sitting at the kitchen table, I’d tell Gramma all about my day. Then we’d play a few hands of rummy. Gramma always let me win—at least until I got good enough to put up a real challenge on my own.

Like most kids, I’d have my bad days at school or get into an occasional tussle with one of my friends. Or else maybe my parents might tell me we simply couldn’t afford that new bicycle I wanted more than anything. It didn’t matter what the reason; if I was upset, I could always count on Gramma to wrap her arms around me in a hug. Gramma was a big woman, too, and when she hugged you, you really knew you’d been hugged. It was great. I don’t remember ever once being in Gramma’s arms when I didn’t honestly believe her when she told me everything was going to be just fine.

Then, one day when I was seventeen, everything wasn’t fine anymore. Gramma had suffered a heart attack, and the doctors said she might never get well enough to come home.

How many nights had I fallen asleep to the muffled sounds of Gramma praying in her bedroom next door and mentioning me to God by name? Well, that night I talked to God myself. I told him how much I loved my grandmother and begged him not to take her away from me. “Couldn’t you wait until I don’t need her anymore?” I asked with youthful selfishness, as though there’d ever come a day when I would have stopped needing my grandmother.

Gramma died a few weeks later. I cried myself to sleep that night and the next, and for many more after that. One morning, I carefully folded the afghan my grandmother had crocheted and carried it to my mom. “I can’t bear feeling so close to Gramma without being able to talk to her and get a hug,” I sobbed. My mother packed the blanket away for safekeeping, and to this day it remains one of my most cherished possessions.

I missed Gramma terribly. I missed her joyous laughter, her quiet words of wisdom. She wasn’t there to help me celebrate my high school graduation, or the day eight years ago when I married Carla. But then something happened that let me know Gramma had never really left me, that she was watching over me still.

A few weeks after Carla and I moved to Paris, Arkansas, we learned that Carla was pregnant. It turned out to be a difficult pregnancy with serious complications. We spent so much time in the hospital that I lost my job mere weeks before Carla’s due date.

Near the end, Carla developed toxemia, and the day our son was born the doctors wouldn’t allow me in the delivery room because they were afraid that neither Carla nor the baby was going to survive. I paced the waiting room, praying as the baby’s vital signs plummeted and Carla’s blood pressure rocketed sky high. My mom and dad were on their way south from Michigan, but they weren’t there yet. I’d never felt so helpless and alone.

Then, suddenly, I felt Gramma’s arms embracing me in one of her hugs. “Everything’s going to be just fine,” I could almost hear her saying. Then as quickly as Gramma had come, she was gone again.

Meanwhile, in the next room, the doctors completed the emergency C-section. The instant our son was born, his heartbeat grew strong and steady. Within minutes Carla’s blood pressure began to drop, and she, too, was soon out of danger.

“Thank you, Gramma,” I whispered as I stood staring through the nursery window at our beautiful new baby, whom we named Christian. “I only wish you could be here to give my son half of the love and wisdom you passed on to me.”

One afternoon, two weeks later, Carla and I were home playing with Christian when someone knocked at our door. It was a deliveryman with a package—a gift for Christian. The box was addressed to “a very special grand baby.” Inside, there lay a beautiful hand-crocheted baby blanket and a pair of booties.

My eyes filled with tears as I read the card. “I knew I wouldn’t be here for the grand day of your birth. I made arrangements by proxy to make this blanket for you. The booties I made before I left on my journey.” The note was signed “Great-Gramma.”

Gramma’s eyesight was so weak near the end that she’d had to ask my Aunt Jeanette to help out with the blanket. But she’d struggled to finish the booties herself, and she did it all during those few brief weeks before she died.

Bill Holton
Excerpted from Woman’s World

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