I Guess That Is Why They are Called Comforters

by Curt Kovener

(This is an encore column from the Curt Comments archives.)
You had probably just finished reading your last Times of January on Wednesday evening, when I dismissed some mild stomach and queasiness as something I ate. But before long the stomach pains sharpened to occasional bolts of electricity of the 220 volt variety and I began to make frequent trips to the bathroom.
I had gotten a flu shot so I wasn’t concerned. Besides, I had planned a day in the woods clearing some trees and burning brush. Sitting at a computer most of the day, I figured working and exercising out-of-doors—even in cold temperatures—would do me some good. It would keep my mind off whatever was bothering my body and may even work it out of my system.
Sure enough, stacking and burning all afternoon and my mind didn’t wander to my stomach a single time.
But after the walk back from the work site, I was extremely worn out. By the time I dragged myself to the house I was tired and achy. Sitting on the couch a couple of shivers shook my weary body.
After another trip to the porcelain room, I came to the realization that some bug was definitely trying to wreck havoc with my body. The more I cursed my luck the more violently my chilled body shook and shivered.
I opened the antique oak blanket chest and got out Granny’s old comforter. It is a heavy, heavy bed cover pieced together with squares of recycled cloth.
There are pieces of my Gramp’s old suits, cut apart when they became worn out. There are pieces of flannel, corduroy, velveteen, and what appears to be some upholstery material all having former lives probably back as far as the early 20th century. Whatever it is stuffed with is certainly heavier than the usual quilting… perhaps a worn quilt or another comforter.
I was given the old comforter in the early 1980’s after Granny and Gramp has passed on. Granny left this life in 1967 so I know this comforter is old.
While I don’t remember her working on this particular one, as a youngster, I can recall my Granny sitting in her wooden rocking chair first cutting then pinning and finally stitching together bits of former suits, dresses, heavy curtains and robes to craft warm comforters for the kinfolks’ winter bedrooms.
These creations were like Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors, “…I thought that we were rich, because I knew of all the love that she sewed in every stitch.”
We don’t use the comforter regularly in the winter. It is old, it is an heirloom; and we don’t want to risk damaging it. But Granny’s comforter is put to use for special occasions when we are feeling ill. Maybe it’s the warmth from its sheer weight or maybe it’s the grandmotherly love reaching across the years embracing us that helps keep us warm when we’re feeling particularly puny.
After sinking between flannel sheets topped with Granny’s Comforter, I shivered a couple time more and then drifted off to a deep sleep aided in part to a couple of shots of medicinal bourbon (sorry, Granny).
The next morning I awoke not feeling any chills, my stomach didn’t hurt, and no urgent need to hurry to the bathroom.
Maybe it was just a 24-hour bug, but I prefer to think that just maybe it was the healing power of Granny’s Comforter.