Papers – newspapers and magazines – were deposited onto the kitchen table by my ten-year-old granddaughter, Madeleine. “Granny, I got your things from the shop!”
I looked up. “That was sweet of you, dear. Come and sit by the fire.”
“Granny, tell me the story about Great Aunt Delilah’s Blanket!”
“I’ve already told you.”
“That was ages ago, I can’t remember!”
We both sat by the fireside in my farm cottage. “Well, my grandmother, that would be your great-great-grandmother, had a sister called Delilah. So that was my Great Aunt, you see. Anyway, it was said she had healing powers and many sick people would go to her house and come away feeling well again.”
“Could she have healed Daddy d’you think?”
“I don’t know sweetheart, maybe. Anyway, it got out that she had a special blanket. It was made of wool and it had a large diamond shape in the middle. The blanket was white and the diamond was blue and there were two lines, very close together. Well, they said that if you were wrapped in the blanket, then you’d become well again.”
“How long did you have to sit wrapped in it?”
I laughed. “You’ll grow up to be a scientist, Maddie! I don’t know, five minutes, ten minutes, half an hour, all night. Who knows? All I know is that people were cured. It was in the local papers of the time, and in Great Aunt Delilah’s diary too.”
“What happened to it?”
“Well, that’s the strange thing. When Great Aunt Delilah died, she left it in her will to my mother, along with all her linen – sheets, blankets, bedcovers, that sort of thing. Well, my mother – your great-grandmother – just put it in a cupboard along with the rest of the stuff and I don’t know if was used much, certainly not for healing anyway.”
“Did she know it could heal people?”
“I don’t think she believed in any of that and likely didn’t want to try in case it did.”
“But what about all the people who could have been healed?”
“Some people are strange, Maddie, not like other folk. You’ll find out for yourself.
Anyway, when my mother died, it was left to me, along with some other bits and pieces. So, one day I was looking through some old chests and there it was – the Healing Blanket! And it still looked new, no marks on it at all! Look, let me make some tea and I’ll tell you the rest of the story.”
“Can I have orange squash please, granny?”
“Of course you can, dear.”
When I came back to the fireside with a tray of tea, orange squash and biscuits, Madeleine was writing in a small book. “What are you writing, sweetheart?”
“I’m writing a prayer to Jesus, that daddy can be made well again.”
“Put it under your pillow, dear, and I’m sure your prayers will be answered.”
Madeleine nodded and closed the book. She reached out for her orange squash and looked up expectantly. “So, what happened with the blanket?”
“Well, I realized what it was, so whenever any of my children had a cold or a cough or a pain somewhere, I would wrap them in the blanket when they went to bed, and the next morning they’d wake up as right as rain!”
Madeleine’s bright eyes widened.
“Anyway, I took to carrying it around in my car, in case I met anyone who needed healing.”
Madeleine spoke excitedly. “Do you still have it then – for daddy?”
“No, one day my car was stolen, and that was it. I never saw the blanket ever again.”
“Granny, do you know where the blanket came from?”
“No, I don’t, sweetheart, but I want to show you something.” I went to a bookcase and took out a large leather-bound bible and brought it back to the fireplace. I turned to a colour plate of a watercolour. “Look at this, sweetheart.”
The picture showed Jesus and some disciples around a table. In the background was a large fire, and hanging nearby, as if to dry, a white blanket with a double-lined blue diamond shape clearly visible upon it.
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