The Cat’s in the Cradle

I walk past my oldest antique, a cradle that my grandmother, Edna Cartwright Davis, born IMG_20160523_105247902in the late 1800s, slept in as an infant. When she grew out of it, someone carried it upstairs into an attic where it remained for decades. I never knew about the cradle until my grandmother brought it downstairs one year in the early 60s and asked if I would like to have it. I was in my early twenties then,married and mother of two sons, and pretty sure I wouldn’t have more children. But that didn’t matter because this was a family heirloom and I was thrilled to say, “Yes, I’d love to have that cradle,” to my grandmother. She wasn’t often physically affectionate, but that day I reached out and gave her a big long hug of gratitude and love.

Life changed unexpectedly after that and I became a single mom for several years. When I re-married, Polly arrived four years later and two years later, Susan. To prepare the cradle for Polly, I purchased 3” soft piece of foam and crafted a mattress, then made sheets to fit from fabric with a small pastel-colored kitten pattern. Both girls slept contentedly in the cradle and grew out of it more quickly than I would have chosen.

Following the baby years, the cradle slowly filled with baby memorabilia: a triangle patchwork baby quilt crafted by my mother’s friend, Geneva; a crocheted pale green-and-yellow afghan my mother made; a lacy baby pillow made by a Bovina friend. When the girls began to outgrow their dolls, dolls began to spend their days in the cradle, so many beautiful dolls. The lovely yellow-haired doll with a baby blue handmade dress made by a talented Bovinian, Lisa, found her way there. The Raggedy Ann dolls I made, each with a heart embroidered with, “I love you,” secreted beneath their dresses and aprons were tucked close by, the small Raggedy Ann nestled on the larger one’s lap. Then, life-sized baby doll, Bonnie, was tenderly placed in the cradle, still dressed today in the pink-checked bunny bunting with little white ears I’d brought Polly, and then Susan, home from the hospital in. The bunting is still in perfect condition these near four-decades later.

Now, it’s the cat who naps in the cradle, comfy as can be atop the folded patchwork quilt. As I smile down at my sweet feline friend and his surrounding company, sweet memories fill my heart. Then I wonder: who will nap in the cradle in its future years?

 

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About Mary Jo Doig

At the turn of the millennium, I arrived at a cross-road that brought me a splendid, if unforeseen place, almost as if I were a traveler on Robert Frost's The Road Less Traveled. I was single again, my three children were grown and building their lives, I'd experienced a health issue and was working on an improved lifestyle. I also ached to do two other things: (1) change my long human services career in upstate New York's Catskill Mountains, where winter seemed to be at least seven months out of every year, and (2) move to a warmer place in the universe. My decision: did I want to continue on the path I'd been following pretty much all my life, or could I gather my then-fragile courage and start life brand new somewhere else? These were scary thoughts for a single woman in her late 50s. Five hundred miles away, though, I fell in love with a new mountain range, Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, where I knew not a soul except my daughter who was attending college in the Shenandoah Valley, and I moved. I rented a tiny cabin on a mountain in the woods and lived there in solitude for two years, working in a new career by day and, when home, communing with the incredible natural beauty that surrounded me. There I also began to write my life stories, which were aching for release. I joined the Story Circle Network in early 2001, a rich place in cyberspace for women life writers, where I strengthened my written voice and began sharing my stories. I grew there in so many ways and today I'm a long-time editor for the "True Words from Real Women" section of the quarterly Journal, as well as a reader and reviewer of women's memoirs for the SCN Book Review site, another unique place in cyberspace. Then, next year, I’ll again be honored to be program chair for our Stories from the Heart national conference in Austin, TX. I have so many loves: first, my three children: my son, Chip and daughter, Polly, both in Virginia; and my youngest daughter, Susan, in Florida, and also dear family and friends. I must also include my cats Hilary (20) and Button (5). Sometimes I foster cats and kittens for the Humane Society, but Button prefers me not to. My hobbies include reading, writing, editing, cooking, gardening, quilting, knitting, biking, and simply being with the profound beauty of the mountains that embrace my small two acres in the Blue Ridge. The life stories I began writing in 2001 have grown deeper with time, re-writes, and personal growth. Now, all these years later, I believe I've sliced through the layers to reach the heart of my story, and am presently working on the final revision of my memoir, Stitching a Patchwork Life.
This entry was posted in Animal friends, Bovina Center, NY, Stories, Change, Childhood, Family, Friendship, Grace, Quilts. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Cat’s in the Cradle

  1. Lovely piece, Mary Jo. I love hearing this aspects of your life.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely story. My children slept in a slimmer cradle that their father and his brother and their mother and her siblings and perhaps her mother slept in. My grandsons did not sleep in it. You know, “not up to code.” Nobody died.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mary Jo Doig says:

      Ah, yes, code. I always stayed close, grateful for a little time to read or sew, because if they rolled over, the cradle would tip. No one could fall out; it just looked really uncomfortable. They, too, survived.

      Like

  3. gwynnrogers says:

    I loved your story as I have my grandmother’s rocking chair from when she was a small child. It is now 100+ years old and I have given it to my nearly three year old granddaughter so that she and her new baby brother can share it. Many fond memories! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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