Monday, August 11, 2008

The magic of dolls

I found this lovely lady on Sunday. Her rose-bud lips are divine!

I was thinking about my love of dolls. I really am drawn to all kinds of beauties. It may have started with Betsy Wetsy...there was a remake of her when I was about five. Since my nickname as a child was Betsy, it seemed she was named for me. I loved that doll, and I still have her. Money was tight and toys were cherished. I had all her accessories, little diapers, powder, Kleenex, bottles etc... I carried it all in a pink dolly diaper bag.

One day, a neighbor in the midst of domestic troubles ran to our home with her young daughter. We hardly knew them, and why they chose us I do not know. I remember we had spaghetti for dinner that night. Funny how you remember stuff like that. At the end of the evening, my mother gave the little girl, a stranger, my prized possession ... the pink diaper bag. I was so angry. I cried for days. I remember my mother telling me that the little girl needed it more than I did, and I should feel happy that I could make her happy. I was still angry.

I had another special doll that was given to me by my Nana. It had been in her family a long time. It was a beautiful little doll with green eyes and long golden hair. She came with a trunk full of clothes and shoes and hairbrushes. It was unusual treasure. An heirloom.

I had carefully played with this doll every time I visited my Nana, and couldn't believe I could actually take her home. The weekend that I brought her home, a woman came to visit my mom. She saw me playing with my doll, and started to cry.

The doll had reminded her of her daughter who had died years ago. Her young daughter, only five years old, had awoke one morning to find the house cold. She went to the stove, turned it on and lit a match...only to have it explode. The flames caught hold of her beautiful long golden hair. She died from extensive burns.

My doll looked exactly like her daughter. Mom gave her the doll and the trunk on the spot, and she was gone. The lady needed it more than me.

My mom was like that. My Dad would joke that she would give her last dime away. Even though we didn't have a lot, she was always looking out for others. I had a hard time understanding that as a child.

My mother started a tradition where she would buy me a doll every Christmas. It was a special gift from her to me. Our own special bond. She continued this even when I grew up. Sometimes, it would be a little doll for my Christmas tree.

Sixteen years ago this month, my mom lay in the hospital. She had just been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. My daughter was almost a year old, and I wanted mom to live to see her celebrate her first birthday. She talked about it wistfully. I can still picture my frail mom holding my daughter. My daughter looked in her eyes and rested her tiny head on my mom's chest.

One day, while visiting mom in the hospital, she told me about this doll she had seen on a cart that someone pushed around the hospital for the patients to buy. It had magazines, candy and little gifts. She couldn't buy the doll then, because she was on her way for tests. When she asked about it the next day, it had been sold. She was explaining her disappointment to me, because she wanted my daughter to have that doll. A reminder of her.

The fact that it was a doll hurt more than anything. I think it was her way of letting me know she wanted to continue the tradition with her granddaughter. I was sad that she didn't have the opportunity to give the doll to her granddaughter. I knew it meant a lot to her.
But, it seems... someone else needed it more.

It was only ten days from the day of diagnosis until the day my mom died...just a few days after we had the conversation. She was gone too quickly for me to emotionally prepare for the loss. The extra loss of the mystery doll seemed to symbolize my anger and grief. Life was so unfair. My mom was too young. She wouldn't see my daughter grow up. She died before her first birthday. My daughter would miss so much. I really wanted that mystery doll for my last tangible reminder for her to hold...or maybe I just wanted it for myself.

I miss you mom.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow..what a a touching post and so interesting to read about how dolls played a part in your they were often tied to losses. I hope that the lovey doll you found this week will come to symbolize happiness, and that each doll you discover or comes your way gives you joy. A wonderful post and tribute to your mother:)

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