The author’s Our Lady of Lourdes statue. (The Washington Post/The Washington Post)

Nandhini Natarajan, 60, Rockville, Md., retired

My grandfather bought the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes. He saw it in France on one of his rare trips abroad. My grandfather, an atheist, got it for his mother-in-law, my great-grandmother, who had just converted into a Catholic. Eventually it passed to my grandmother, and it was from her that I heard all the stories about the statue. It had accompanied her into all the delivery rooms when she had her three children. During World War II, my grandmother, who was illiterate but insightful, got an underground trench built in the garden for the air raids, and she secretly also built a house, in a remote forest, filled with staples to sustain her family for at least a year. She told me with great pride that in each place she had a special shelf built just for the statue.

In time, this statue accompanied both my mother and my aunt into their delivery rooms. Near my grandmother’s death, she gave the statue to me and not my mother. Maybe it was because I was always besotted by the statue and its history, or because my mother was so caught up in her struggles as a widow with three children, but I never questioned it. I was just grateful to have it.

Of course, I took the statue into the delivery room when I had my two children, and now I am waiting to give it to my daughter: Her baby is due in five months.

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