Good morning from chilly, partly sunny Vermont. When I was growing up, we always had a box of Nestle’s Quik in our cupboard. I’d have a large glass of chocolate milk for breakfast, along with a scrambled egg and toast. While I ate, I’d read the box; sometimes you could send in proof of purchase labels for prizes.
One morning I saw that you could send in labels in exchange for two red, wooden pirates, with light blue felt pirate hats, black mustaches, and eyes. I asked my mom to get them for me, and after several weeks of waiting, they arrived. Somehow, by a bit of magic I’m sure, I transferred my love and attachment to those pirates, and I carried them everywhere. To bed (tucked under my pillow), to school (they were in my third-grade class photo), to breakfast. At night, during prayer time, I’d say, “And please bless Freddy and Frank, and all the people I know and don’t know.” That, to me, covered just about everything.
Over the years, their hats, eyes, and mustaches fell off, and most of their red paint eroded. Still, I needed those solid pieces of wood in each hand to maneuver through what I felt was a complicated life. I think I was in sixth grade when the magic disappeared, and suddenly I saw them for what they were, two oddly shaped pieces of wood. I lost track of them in the house, and then in my life. Still, I prayed for them for years after, as my words had become habit by then.
I don’t remember any of us having stuffed animals at home. My dad sent me a bear from the Vermont Teddy Bear Company when I got my first promotion at work–I think I was twenty-three. I named him Cookie and I still have him. And my husband, my boyfriend back then, got me a beautiful Gund bunny one Christmas. He’d heard my Freddy and Frank story from several family members by then. That bunny’s real now. He has marvelous expressions, and continues to give me comfort.
Why am I telling you all this? Because I’m a storyteller. Because I want you readers to know that I can attribute feelings to and create entire support systems from two pieces of hard wood. If I can do that, I do believe that there is no limit to my imagination. What were your favorite comforts growing up?
I leave you with Serena’s photo of our back yard. Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.