“Where’s Mary?” I asked at lunch one day.
While my father was away, I took over sitting with my mother at meal times. I loved the opportunity to spend time with her and to get to know many of the folks at her nursing home. I-can-do-it Mary has a seat next to my mother in the dining area. But when Mary was missing, I missed her.
“She has her blanket pulled over her head,” reported the aide. “Don’t nobody bother her when she’s like that.”
I peeked in Mary’s room, and, sure enough, she was in her recliner with her red fleece blanket stretched from her toes to over her face.
Mary had more and more blanket days as the weeks went by. Only at lunch time.
“She’ll eat a good dinner tonight,” staff would comment about her absence. And indeed she would.
“I learned the hard way,” one woman said, “to leave her alone when she’s got that blanket up.”
“Ah, the universal leave-me-alone sign,” my sister said when I was telling her about Mary.
Come to think of it, some of my children have done that — pulled a blanket up over their head when they want to be left alone.
Come to think of it, I’ve done that myself. I’ve stayed in bed and pulled the covers up over my face wishing the world would disappear, just for a little while anyway.
But the world doesn’t disappear.
The problems are still there when the blanket is removed.Magic happens under the blanket, though. The warmth, the safety, the quiet retreat — somehow it all weaves together to fortify the blanket-hider.
We emerge to face the world feeling a little warmer, a little more rested, and a little hungrier from the missed meal.
Thankful today for red fleece blankets and people who understand us enough to give us both the space to hide and the grace to resurface.