Dolls For Generations
Six year old Kayla held two cloth dolls, a boy and a girl, in her outstretched arms.
“But, Momma. Why can’t we take the dolls home with us?”
“Because you have enough toys at our house. These need to stay at Grandma’s.”
Vera watched the exchange between her daughter and granddaughter. If she had her way, Kayla would go home with whatever it was she wanted. Even Grampa, for a day or two, if that would make her happy. But, before she’d become a grandmother, with its license to spoil and let discipline slide, she’d been a parent. She remembered those demands and the limits they imposed. So she said nothing.
“They need to go home with me,” her granddaughter persisted. Vera could hear the tears of frustration in Kayla’s voice, then watched them brim over in her eyes.
“They’re all dirty. Look.” Her daughter reached out to gingerly touch a grimy sleeve, then brushed her hands swiftly together to cleanse them.
“But, I want them to.” Kayla stiffened her knees as if that physical act would help her get her way. “Why not?”
“Because I said so,” Vera heard her daughter counter at last. She recognized the line used by many parents to end an argument with a child.
The dolls in question had been a Christmas gift—from Vera’s mother to the twins—many years before. Her youngest daughter had actually thrown them in the trash one day when she decided to purge her bedroom, and herself, of all things juvenile. Vera couldn’t stand the thought of their being discarded. She’d rescued them then set them in a corner of the basement to be forgotten. That was where Kayla had found them—toward the end of a sleepover visit when boredom had begun to set in and she’d gone off looking for new adventures.
Vera steeled herself. She would be expected to respond. It was now up to her to find a solution for her granddaughter while allowing her daughter to save face.
“Yes,” she said as if Kayla had just asked for something as easy to provide as a cookie.
“Is Momma right? Do the dolls have to stay here?”
Vera looked at her granddaughter’s expectant face, then at the ‘please help me here’ expression on her daughter’s. “Yes, they do, Sweetheart,” she said at last. “Because, your mother is right. The dolls are a little dirty.” She looked at her daughter. “And, Grandma needs to clean them up.”
She knew she was providing only a stop gap measure; a temporary fix to the situation. Still, she was relieved when Kayla accepted her answer without argument. For now, that was enough.
The next day, Vera inspected the dolls with a critical eye. She had forgotten how important dolls had been to her at one time long ago, then she realized, they still were. As a child she had spent many satisfying days with her inanimate friends. She’d dressed them warmly for walks outside and tended to their every imagined need.
She laid these dolls on the counter by the sink, then went to work with soap, water and a wash cloth. It was like bathing a baby without the squirming. After they were dry, she’d mend the minor rips and snags she’d discovered.
A few days later, she bent to that task. It was important that the thread blended with the material so the stitches didn’t show. She could almost see her own mother, expertly matching thread to cloth. Vera pulled a length of thread from a carefully selected spool. Her stitches were small and neat, just as her grandmother had taught her. ‘Keep the stitches even.’ Gram would say. ‘Not too long. The shorter the better. Long stitches are for basting. You, Vera girl, are sewing.’
She worked slowly and lovingly until the dolls were completely restored. Then, she decided new clothes were in order.
Her smile erupted into an outright laugh as she drove into the yard later the next afternoon. Her trip to town had been successful on many fronts. The hardware had the part Ben wanted for the tractor, in stock and on sale. But, best of all, the toy store had yielded more than she’d hoped. It had been a long time since she’d been doll clothes shopping. She’d forgotten how much fun it could be—going through all the colors, the styles, the accessories. She’d settled on a yellow dress for the girl doll, smocked across the front in orange and pink thread. The boy doll wound up with jeans—appropriate for a boy, she thought—and an orange top festively embroidered with a palm tree on the front. His outfit came complete with a hat. She quickly unloaded the car, anxious to get to her dolls. Dressing each one with love and care, she took her time to straighten their collars and adjust them both just so.
She set them on the bed in the spare room, then stood back to admire her work. She couldn’t wait for Kayla to see what she’d done.
She’d recaptured and made cherished memories. And, she’d done it for all of them—her grandmother, her mother, her daughter, her granddaughter, and herself.
Hope you enjoyed my latest offering. Happy Summer, Everyone.
My days to blog here at the 11th and 23rd. For more about me and to see some of the other stories I have, please visit my WEBSITE