A red bonnet with tiny white dots. When I put it on, I was convinced that I looked exactly like a pioneer girl in the frontier. I imagined riding on a covered wagon, living on the prairie, and facing 19th century trials and tribulations. It was my favorite accessory of all our dress-up clothes.
A red bonnet with tiny white dots. The first time I held it, I was six years old. My first grade class was going on a field trip to a small town nearby with a living history program. Each of us was asked to dress-up and take on the persona of a child in the 19th century. This field trip felt like the answer to my greatest six-year old dream. Every time I put a coin into a fountain, I wished for a time machine, so I could go back to the 1800s. When my parents came back from my Grandma Harriet’s house with the bonnet, my costume felt complete and authentic.
“She’s so excited for you,” my mother told me, her eyes moist. I ran my fingers over the brim of the bonnet. It looked so authentic. So perfect.
“She said if you need anything else, to let her know,” my father added, his voice gruff. I nodded, even though I already had a dress, apron, and shoes.
A red bonnet with tiny white dots. When I wore it, I felt like I was looking through a red tunnel. I had to turn my head to see what was happening next to me. I practiced fixing my long brown hair into two braids.
A red bonnet with tiny white dots. I modeled for my mother’s mother, while my parents were visiting Grandma Harriet again. I spun around imagining I was far away, in a different time and place.
“I want to go with you. I want to be there.” I cried into my mom’s shoulder the night before the field trip. “I should be there with you guys.”
“No, honey. She wanted you to go. Remember, she gave you the bonnet. She was so excited that you were able to go on a trip like that.” My mother held me. Her voice sounded different, stuffy and thin.
“Why did God want her to go to heaven now? He already took Grandpa William. And Great-Grandma Betty. I won’t have any grandparents left, soon. Doesn’t He know how much I need them?” My mother hugged me hard, and kissed the top of my head.
“Why does the funeral have to be tomorrow?” In my short life, I had never been faced with two major events happening on the same day. I could not go to both. “Please let me go with you.” I broke away from my mother’s embrace, and clasped my hands. She gathered me back up, once again, as if it was she that needed some one to hug.
“You grandma was so excited that you were going. She talked and talked about it, every time we visited her. She wanted you to go, and have a good time. Remember, she gave you that pretty red bonnet.”
A red bonnet with tiny white dots. The last gift my Grandma Harriet ever gave me. Diagnosed with cancer at the end of January, she was gone within a month. Amidst the phone call from friends and relatives, funeral arrangements, and my parents’ tears, I wore a red bonnet. I went on a field trip, instead of a funeral.
“Your grandmother would have been so happy you went,” my father told me that night, as I sat in his lap. I leaned against him. I had never seen my father cry before we got that first call about the cancer four weeks before. It was his mother, so I guessed he would know what she wanted. I wondered if she had seen me on the field trip. The red bonnet should have been easy to see from the sky.
A red bonnet with tiny white dots.
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