Friday, December 5, 2008

Ragedy Blankets

Today I am going to post a story I wrote a while back I can't seem to find my way to writing a post, maybe my heart is not in the right place because I am struggling so with some life decisions and maybe God's plan was for this story to be place here. Who am I? and What do I know?

I pray there is something in the context of this story for you, that God truly hands you something you need from it. Have a blessed day my friends.

Raggedy Blankets
(For my sister Jean)

A short while ago my sister Jean and I had a conversation about our childhood. It would seem, we have very different memories. I should think that this would be normal with most siblings. The memories however are not simply about different times and places but about the very different upbringing we had as children. It was as if we had lived in the same house with different parents.

In the course of this email conversation we ended up each apologizing to each other and feeling a little bad about having stepped into each other’s memories. Near the end of this conversation, my sister said “It’s OK; this just gives me something to think about”.

I have been thinking about that remark and have decided that I too, should try to think through some of my childhood and search for different memories myself. Human beings are blessed and cursed with selective memories.

She has selected by choice or not, to remember the good things while apparently, I have selected to remember the things not so good. I have been searching in my mind for a “good thing” and good emotions that went with that experience, about my father. From that comes this story.

When I was a small child, about six and up, I do remember that we lived next to a vacant lot. The vacant lot was on the corner of the avenue we lived on. This lot was overgrown with trees and masses of growth from wild plants and vines. I loved playing in those weeds as a child. We played army, cowboys and Indians and sometimes we were in the jungle hunting wild lions. As I think of this play place of my childhood, another memory comes to my mind.

My bedroom was at the far end of the house, next to this wooded area. I can remember waking up every winter morning and going to the window and looking outside to see if any of “those men” were out there.

There were a number of old men, drunk, tattered, used up and tired, in our area. They would crawl into the brush on cold nights and sleep there for protection (hiding from the local police) and for warmth. I did not understand why these men were what they were, or how they got that way but, I did know that we were going to do something about it.

I would run into my parent’s room and wake Papa, saying, “One of those men are out there, it is cold, get up”. Papa would crawl out of bed, go to the kitchen and start the coffee pot. While the coffee was brewing, he would dress and collect the necessary items he needed to finish the good deed that I unknowingly had started.

On Saturdays we use to go to the thrift store and he would buy any number of old blankets and thermos jugs. I, for the longest, did not know why he bought these raggedy old blankets and jugs, until I saw what he did with them.

He would quietly sneak out of the house in the cold, with crispy frost laying all over the grass, he would even more quietly approach these bums (by the rest of the worlds standards), he would lay a thermos full of smoking hot coffee beside them and he would cover them with a raggedy old blanket he had purchased just for them, he then as quietly walked away, never disturbing or judging them.

He never explained why we did this but, as I grew older and the compassion in me was cultivating, I knew. He had been a soldier shot up in the war, he had come home to try and live a normal life with a family. He had himself ended up a drunk and had spent years trying to put himself back together. He had been fortunate that he had made it because he found Christ.

He saw these men with such compassion and empathy that his heart could not have allowed him to do anything but reach out to them. He discreetly reached out and gave to them, hoping that they would feel one moment of the peace he had finally found.

The blanket was sometimes raggedy and worn but, I believe was always warm both to the body and the soul of these men.

Compassion is not an emotion, it is not something we are born with or given, it is something we must develop and cultivate. I have always believed that compassion is the most important value we can have. If we feel it, we can not possibly do wrong to someone else. No matter what my memories are of my childhood, I must in all fairness admit, I believe the compassion that is in me is because of Papa and the way he cared for other people.

Every day of every winter I rose and went to that window. I can honestly say, every time someone was there, cold and alone, so was Papa there too with hot coffee and one raggedy old blanket.

The memories of my childhood for the most part, are not fond ones but, I know when he was in bed for two years, dieing from cancer that my heart went out to him regardless of the past. The compassion he taught me was easy to return to him at that time. Forgiving him for the past was easy, forgetting is not.

I will continue to search for memories that are fond ones and, in time, maybe I will be able to replace some of the bitter memories with sweeter ones.


  1. What a wonderful story. After reading this I feel like we have something in common. While my childhood was not a bad one (thanks to the wonderful man who was my father) I have some very bitter memories of my mother. I so agree with you that forgiving is easy but forgetting isn't. Thank you for sharing your story.

  2. Thanks Ann I appreciate you as a fellow blogger and an artist, just thanks!

  3. I don't remember this part of our life, Sis. But I wish I did. I love this story because it tells me a lot about Papa, and a lot about you, too. I, too, believe that the fact that compassion is so easily stirred in me is a result of Papa and Mama giving so freely to help other people all through our childhood.

    They had many faults, but they both had many good qualities, too.

    We owe them both more than we realize, I think.


  4. They did I need to make sure I give them the credit as well as the fault, that's what I am working on
    Love you Nae

  5. Miss Miawa,

    Jesus has a way of making even the bitter things sweet.... when we give it all to Him.

    but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet. Proverbs 27:7b KJV

    That's what HE has done with my life. I can never PRAISE HIM ENOUGH!

  6. Such beautiful and encouraging words I know you are a sister in Christ, thank you.


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