Life, Stories Told

Enduring comforters

In this season of change and loss I’m experiencing, it’s remarkable to me what endures.

When I started this blog, in 2007, I lived in my church’s parsonage. It had been vacant because our pastor lived in a house he already owned. The elders knew I was rebuilding my life after my divorce and that my one-room apartment wasn’t big enough for me and my sons. So in 2005 they offered me a sweetheart deal: if I paid the utilities and cut the grass (on a three-acre lot, what a lot of work!) I could live in the parsonage indefinitely. Given what houses like this rented for at the time, they saved me about $1,000 a month — money I didn’t have anyway, not then.

The four-bedroom, two-bathroom house was mostly furnished. I needed only furnish my sons’ bedroom. My sons could easily have had separate rooms, but they were used to bunking together and said they felt most secure that way. They were still quite young at about eight and six years old. Here’s their room.

ParsonageBoysRoom

I had little money to work with. I ordered their beds online from Sears, sight unseen, for about $100 each. Let me tell you, a $100 box spring and mattress are mighty thin and flimsy. My back would have complained to me all day after a night on one of these. But my boys’ little bodies could still sleep happily on anything.

I bought almost everything else on sale at Target: the comforters and bedskirts, the sheets, the bedside table, the clock radio, the lamp, and the plastic tubs that served as their toy boxes. The curtains came from the one-room apartment; I’d bought them at Dollar General. I forget where I got the posters, but they were of my sons’ favorite TV shows.

You can never predict how things will change as life moves on.

Even though my sons slept in my home less than half the time, the mattresses wore out after about five years and had to be replaced. It pays to buy good mattresses.

The boys’ nightstand now stands next to my recliner in the living room. I use Damion’s decorative orange pillow behind my head when I watch TV there. The boys no longer needed their toy-box tubs at some point; I used them both for Christmas-decoration storage. The lamp doesn’t have a use at the moment, but I think it might one day and so I’ve saved it. I don’t know what became of the clock radio. The boys no longer wanted their posters when I moved last year out of the house I bought for us in 2007.

But those black Target comforters have worn like iron. They’re still on the beds I keep for my sons. Garrett’s comforter even got a five-year break when, at his request, I redecorated his room in camouflage. The camo comforter he selected, which cost a darn sight more than the black one, just didn’t last. It had worn thin and was full of holes. Fortunately, his camo phase had ended and I just put the black comforter back on his bed. It still looked fresh — as much as the one that had been on his brother’s bed all along.

When my sons move out, I’ll send those comforters along with them. Who knows how long they’ll last. But while they do, they’ll connect them to memories stretching all the way back to our time in the parsonage.

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9 thoughts on “Enduring comforters

  1. Well, I had to Google what a comforter is (it’s what we call a duvet in England, from, er the French word!) but I really like the story Jim, and the twin meaning of comforter (a duvet, or simole something that provides comfort) is poignantly used.

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    • Thanks Dan, very much. Sometimes I’m not sure whether I should post something I wrote and this was one of those times. Wasn’t sure it was interesting enough to anyone but me. Your feedback is validating.

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      • Well for me this was absolutely worth sharing. One of those posts from the soul rather than the technical brain that we often write more camera/kit based posts from. And “soul posts” are always welcome.

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  2. Kids’ rooms can be so powerfully nostalgic. And that 3 acre lot! Mowing an acre-plus lot is almost meditative to me, though I know not everyone feels that way. Love the Jaws/Simpsons poster, too.

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    • That lot is part of a church property on 52nd St east of High School Road, since you are probably familiar with the area. I had a tractor, a brute of a John Deere that the church owned, to do the mowing job. It still took me most of an afternoon to get it done. After the divorce was final I got my Craftsman tractor back and started using it instead. It was smaller and so it took longer but it was much more pleasant to drive.

      That house was a great place for us to catch our breath for a while. I will forever be grateful to the elders for giving us that gift.

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  3. Heide says:

    If I were in a literary mood I’d say those comforters were a metaphor for your perseverance and determination to hang in there through the tough times. But how wonderful to be able to look back on those days and see how far you and the boys have come. Great story, Jim!

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