A grandmother is a mother who has a second chance

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Doll

My grandmother passed away in November of 1982. She spent a couple of weeks in the hospital prior to that and on one of those days my mom and I went to the cafeteria for lunch. Being so close to losing her mother made my mom open up about a few things I hadn't known. My mom was always a bit of a tomboy, and her older sister was very much the "girl". Plus my aunt has a heart condition so she needed more attention. Turns out my mother spent much of her life feeling less loved than her sister and trying to do whatever it took to win her mother's love.

One especially sad story she told me was about a little porcelain doll she had gotten for Christmas when she was eight or nine years old. She loved that doll. My parents grew up during the Depression so having a gift like this wasn't taken lightly. Several months after she got the doll a little boy from the neighborhood was teasing my mom and took the doll from her. During the scuffle, the doll fell down the stairs and the porcelain shattered. Mom was heartbroken, but her family could not afford to replace it. Plus, my grandmother figured that since my mother was such a tomboy, she probably didn't care that much about the doll. How wrong she was. But my mother didn't want to cause any trouble so she never mentioned it again.

I remember so vividly sitting there with my mom hearing this story, seeing her eyes well up, and seeing a side of her I had never seen. My grandmother passed away shortly after that, about three days before Thanksgiving, and I made it my mission to find another porcelain doll for my mother. Not an easy thing to do! I wound up buying three of them until I found the perfect one and returned all the others. The one I finally found was in a box in a back corner of some small gift shop. It had an old country look about it, and even had dark hair and leather shoes.

I wrapped the doll and hid it in my bedroom. I had told my dad, brother, and kids about the present and begged them to not say anything so it could be a surprise. On Christmas morning we were all gathered in my apartment opening presents. Finally there was nothing left under the tree and we started cleaning up the papers. I went into the bedroom and came out with the box. "Hey, here's one that didn't make it under the tree. Looks like it's for Mom." She started laughing about not needing anything else but I plopped the box in her lap anyway. They rest of us got very quiet waiting for her to open it. When she pulled the doll out of the box, her face changed dramatically, she looked at me and then started crying. Which of course made all the rest of us cry (I'm tearing up just writing and remembering this). It was truly an emotional moment and one that I will never forget.

Mom kept the doll on her bed from that day forward. She also had an old rosary from her mother which she wrapped around the doll. When Mom died in 1994, the I kept the doll. She now lives happily in our home.

It's too bad this little doll doesn't know what an impression she made or what a special Christmas she made for my mother. Some day when I'm gone the doll will live with my daughter, Jenni. Hopefully the story of how she became part of our family will live with her.


Desert Diva said...

What a "legacy of love" you tell in that story. It's amazing the disappointments that we all experience in life and how sometimes they are soothed by the kind acts of others who notice...

Jenni said...

I will be happy to pass the story on. I'm sure Vika would love to hear it someday.