When I was in my 20’s, I bought a giant wheel of green ribbon for $3 at the flea market.

“That should last you your whole life,” someone said.

I had been deeply affected by O. Henry’s “The Last Leaf” http://www.online-literature.com/donne/1303 when a teacher had read it to us in elementary school. Thinking about a last leaf or a last bit or ribbon told me that it would be weird when I got toward the end of the roll.

In the beginning I made sure the wrapping paper I bought would have the ribbon’s color in the print. My gifts were always topped with cascades of curly green. Sometimes I used the ribbon for mundane things– I used a lot it when I tied black garbage bags with it to identify my stuff in my parents’ basement. Over the years, I bought other ribbon. I said it was for variety’s sake, but deep down I was trying to keep my death at bay.

Yesterday, I wrapped the gift to my daughter for today, her 18th birthday. The paper contained some green, and there was the roll of ribbon. The day was too significant for any other ribbon. After taking off a good-sized length, I saw what was left. I thought about Christmases, birthdays, and ordinary days of using the ribbon.

I’m not superstitious, and would not be looking over my shoulder for the grim reaper if I used what was left. But after the comment that it would last me my whole life, the green ribbon seems to have taken on an identity as it’s gone through the years with me. I think I’ll keep it.

See—the years have made it wrinkly, too!

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