Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Road Not Taken--or Taken, Then Given Back

On daughter Em’s birthday, I asked her brother Weston about his favorite memory of Em. Almost without hesitation, he proclaimed, “The time she gave me the road blanket.”

When Em was a teenager, she received an anonymous Christmas gift of a large warm quilt. The colors on it were very gaudy, so she brought it out mainly on cold winter nights. Usually, it could be found tucked in her closet. Em’s taste in decorating is very classic and her color choices lie in tans, beiges, browns, and golds. The quilt of many colors just didn’t “go” with anything else in her bedroom. It’s warmth factor could not be denied though, and when the temperature dipped, out came the quilt.

Little brother Weston was fascinated by the designs on the quilt. Often he would ask Em if he could use her quilt as a “road” for his tiny cars. He dragged out this quilt so frequently that he began referring to it as “my road,” as in “Em, can I play with my road?”  Being the sweet big sister that she was, she usually obliged.

She obliged, that is, until the day she moved out.

The scene in the kitchen was heart-rending. Em was moving out, as children tend to do when they get married. The quilt was in the process of being transported to her new home. I will never forget the look in young Weston’s eyes as the realization hit—his road was going bye-bye.

“No!” he screamed. “You can’t take my road!” The young boy was out of control, pleading and grabbing on to the quilt so it would not be moved. Em struggled to get it out of his grip, and being moved by his grief I encouraged her to leave it behind for him to play with. She would not be swayed, and why should she?  The quilt was hers, given to her as a gift.

Weston was inconsolable over the next couple of days. Whenever he would think about it, he would wail, “My road…”  Just as frequently he wailed about the fact that his sister cruelly decided to live with her new husband instead of with us. He was a miserable tot.

One day, when Weston and I had gotten home from errands, he went into his bedroom and started yelling. “My road, my road!” I went to his room and found the quilt, neatly folded on his bed.

On top of the quilt was a note.

“To my brother, because I love you.
You probably need this blanket more than I do.
I love you, my handsome.”

To this day, I cannot get him to give up the quilt, though he no longer uses it as a road.

A young Weston, playing with cars on his "road"


  1. Beautiful story. I can see the roads on that pattern. Have you read the story in Toys Remembered by Kevin O'Horan? Maybe you should read it to Weston (I know he doesn't like to read).

  2. Auntie M: I am so glad you reminded me about that story. When I first read it I made a mental note to read it to my son, but then forgot to do so. It reminded me of the road blanket. I was fascinated by Kevin's description of how he created roads in the rug and how he created hills by putting things under the rug. Such a guy thing! And funny how it ended up being his most memorable "toy."


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