I found a blog today called “Visions of Johanna.” The blog is about a little girl, who shares my first name, and her family. Johanna has a brother, Teddy, whose Bankie went missing, according to a post from 2010.
When Bankie disappeared, Teddy was distraught. I could relate. I remember one childhood trip from our home in the Harrisburg area to see relatives in the Pittsburgh area, about four hours away. I’m not sure how old I was or how far we were from home when I realized my pink and red crocheted Bankie was not in the car. But I remember the fear and anguish. I immediately started bawling. Oh! Lord! How would I sleep with out it?
Somehow I managed. Apparently it wasn’t that bad because I don’t remember the rest of the trip. I was a couple years older than Teddy and I suspect my parents were trying to wean me from my Bankie.
I was about 8 when my mother finally made me a deal. If I would throw my pink and red Bankie away, my mother would give me an orange afghan she was knitting. After a series of intense negotiations, I agreed to a compromise. I would give the pink and red Bankie to the cat in exchange for the orange one. But I would not make the exchange until the orange one was completed.
I remember the day I lovingly placed my pink and red Bankie on the cat’s “throne,” a cushion on which she liked to sit. I then took the orange one and held it. It was bigger, much bigger — about the right size to cover up an adult. In contrast, the original one was small, having been made by my paternal grandmother as a baby blanket.
I slept with my head on the new orange afghan, just as I had slept on the pink and red one and I even called the new one “Bankie.”
My mother won the battle but lost the war.
She didn’t give up. When I was a teenager she would try to shame me into giving up my orange Bankie. And she would tell all my boyfriends that I would take that blanket on my honeymoon. (I did, by the way.) Nothing worked. I was determined to keep my Bankie, no matter what anyone else — including my mother — said.
My Bankie was with me when I was 15 and my father was killed by a drunk driver. My Bankie was with me when I lost my handicapped sister. My Bankie was with me when my mother died by suicide when I was 25. Bankie was, in essence, the only positive constant in what became a turbulent childhood and difficult early adulthood.
Teddy was about 16 months old when his Bankie went missing. He’s now 6, going on 7. Chances are good he has given up his Bankie by now. A part of me hopes that he hasn’t, though. Childhood end all too quickly. We grow up and find ourselves facing the responsibilities of jobs, mortgages, car payments and insurance. For me, it has certainly been worthwhile to hold on to this one special comfort item.
I’d be interested in hearing from other who still have their childhood blankets. I’ve met two or three already so I know you’re out there. Please feel free to contact me or leave a message!