September 17, 2011

A Bit of Blue Yarn

Have you ever heard the question: Why is it old people remember all kinds of stories but they can never remember how many times they've told them?

That's one reason I blog. My family has heard the same stories spilled out of my heart so often they can finish telling them before I do. Whereas here? I could write the same tale every day and no one could do a thing about it. (Well, you could walk away from your computer, but I wouldn't know that, would I?)

So now I have what could be the grandmommy (as opposed to granddaddy) of all sob stories and you get to hear it for (what I think) will be the first time.

When I was very small I had a toy box. It was filled with typical little girl belongings: baby dolls, baby doll paraphernalia, a little iron that actually plugged in and warmed up... I loved the toys inside, but the box was a treasure as well. It was white and big and had a padded lid so you could sit on it without getting an achy bum. Not only that, but Cinderella and her pumpkinny coach decorated the front of the box; I could tell by looking at her face that Prince Charming wasn't too far away.

As you probably know by now, when I was 7 or 8 my parents divorced and sold our home. Mom decided she and I would move to Colorado to be near my oldest brother. She sent me ahead so I could start school out there while she stayed behind to pack up the house.

It was months and months later when we finally found a little place to call home. When we did unpack our belongings I discovered most of my toys and books were gone. I had 2 books and 1 baby doll left to call my own. Okay...I don't remember asking my mom about the toy box or the toys. They just weren't there.

About a year later we went back to Illinois to visit my aunt. While she and my mom were chatting over coffee I explored her home. I walked into the door of her guest room and there, in all her glittery beauty, sat Cinderella, smiling at me from the front of my toy box. Not only that, but all my toys and books were still inside.
I stormed into the kitchen feeling quite hurt and angry. Why are my toys here?! I want them back! They are mine and they are coming back to Colorado with me!

For some strange reason, mom remained silent. It was my aunt who did the talking. She told me mom had given her the toy box and toys so my cousins would have something to play with whenever they came to visit her. Auntie said the toys belonged to her now and I couldn't have them. I looked at her face and knew she meant business. But oh how I wanted my toys. They represented so much more than mere entertainment to me. They were from a time when life was happy and safe and my family was whole. I wanted them back as a reminder of those times.

For the next two days a battle of wills ensued. Aunt Birdie and I went round and round, back and forth and up and down over those toys. I finally realized she had years of experience in being mule headed-I was a novice by comparison. At last I settled on one doll. A light blue yarn doll with a sweet face and yellow suspenders. I spent nearly every waking moment begging, pleading and trying to manipulate my aunt into letting me have her. She had originally been mine after all. This. Was. Not. Fair.

Just as we were loading up the car to head west, my aunt relented. She had a strange gleam in her eye, but she finally gave in. She let me take that doll. I knew in my heart I had won a battle, but she'd won the war. I didn't care. I had a tiny piece of home to carry with me; I still have that doll and I still treasure her.

When I look at her I see so very many things. I see my aunt and her childish desire for victory over a little girl she was supposed to love. I often wonder what hurts hardened her heart and closed it off to compassion and affection...I wish now I could hug her and let her know it's ok to be soft. We aren't wounded every time we're vulnerable.

I see my childhood and all those sweet, happy little girl dreams and memories; that's all they are now-sweet memories. God has taught me that it's only in my friendship with Him that my heart will truly be filled. I don't need things to feel whole.

I see a mom, broken, hurt, filled with despair. I know why she gave away so much. I've been there too.

Finally I see triumph. I duked it out with an adult and won a skirmish. Maybe that's why I'm tenacious to this day? I tasted victory and it was sweet.

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