The Covering

Live me, don’t grieve me

Siblings Tonya L. Washington and Palmyra council president Timothy Howard with the blankets they collected to donate to Cinnaminson Manor.


For The Sun

On May 5, the National Day of Prayer, our mother, Frances Howard, changed her earthly address to her Heavenly address.

That same day, Lourdes Health System in Camden presented our mother with a crochet blue blanket — her favorite color, I might add. That blanket covered her as she made her transition. We call it her life blanket.

After we had her home-going service, the Boyd Funeral Home in Camden presented us with a blanket with her picture on it. I call it my mommy blanket. When I have difficult days missing her, I find strength in covering myself with it.

Each Christmas, my husband and I have a themed gala at our home. This past Christmas, we knew it was going to be very difficult because it was our first year without her. I really wasn’t in the mood to start planning, and I began to think about our last Christmas together. She took my sons to Cinnaminson Manor — her favorite place to volunteer — and brought miniature Christmas trees and cards to the residents. The last time she went there with my boys was on Valentine’s Day to drop off cards. I joked with her about taking the cards, and she said to me, “They need to be shown love, too.” One day, I would have to continue this with the boys when she wouldn’t be able to.

As I sat on my couch covered under my mommy blanket, thinking about what I was going to take to the Cinnaminson Manor to honor her wishes and continue her tradition with the boys, her favorite Bible verse — Psalms 91 — came to mind. It talks about God’s covering over our lives. He keeps us covered through everything that we will go through during our life journey. The Holy Spirit laid on my heart that our annual Christmas gala would be called The Covering.

I asked family and friends to participate in The Covering by gifting a throw blanket for the residents of Cinnaminson Manor. When I spoke to the director, Regina Brown, about what I wanted to do to continue my mother’s tradition, she informed me there were 107 residents at Cinnaminson Manor.

I sent the invitation on Nov. 29 for our third annual Christmas gala to be held on Dec. 10. I expressed to my family and friends that my goal was to gift all 107 residents a throw blanket on Dec. 20.

The evening of Dec. 19, my cousin and I were gathering the blankets for a final count. We praised God having received 83 blankets. A few minutes later, I received a text message asking how many blankets had been donated and how many more we needed to reach our goal. I replied to the message, and received a response that the sender would be gifting the remaining 24 blankets.

On Dec. 20, my family and I delivered the blankets to the residents of Cinnaminson Manor. Before leaving, we visited our aunt, Marie Washington, who is a resident of Cinnaminson Manor. This was her first Christmas without her husband, and it brought so much joy to my heart to see her bright smile when she received her blanket.

Holding The Covering in remembrance of our mother gave me the strength to get through the holiday season. To walk the halls of Cinnaminson Manor and bring gifts as our mother once did has brought joy to be heart during my first Christmas without her. Live me, don’t grieve me.

Editor’s Note: Tonya L. Washington is a Palmyra resident and sister to Palmyra council president Timothy Howard. Washington will continue to hold The Covering in her mother’s honor. Her hope is her story might help others going through the grieving process of losing a loved one.