A lot of times in “Days Remembered” I tell a story and then use an object or event in the story to make a point or show you a life lesson. This Note is no different. This time it involves an old doll made beautiful once more.
One day when we were at the Will Rogers Flea Market you spied an old, big doll. It was one of those dolls that came out of the 1950s or 60s. It was about two feet tall and had a dirty cream colored dress. Its face and cheeks were dirty like the face of a little kid who had been out playing in the mud. You liked it, bought it, and took it home.
Once we got home you put it on your dresser standing upright with its eyes looking blankly out to the mirror on the opposite wall. She sat there for a short period of time until you began to remake her, to clean her up, and restore her to the beauty she once had when she belonged to a little girl whose identity shall remain forever unknown.
You removed her little dress and washed it. You cleaned her skin and face like you did your own kids when they were little. I remember you standing her back up clean again. She was almost back to normal but she lacked one thing, some proper hair.
When I lived on the east side of town there was a doll store near my old house I took my daughter too. Jane would walk up and down the aisles staring in little girl wonder at the many pretty, made up dolls. I took you there one Saturday to look for a new mop of hair for your little doll, now looking almost new again.
Like my once little girl you walked up and down the aisles looking at the dolls, it seemed you were looking for ideas on how to dress her up. Then you talked to the lady who ran the shop and asked if they sold new pieces of hair for dolls. She did and you bought a brown wig for your new little girl and took it home.
You took the little hairpiece out of the box it came in and put it on the doll. Then all at once she looked complete, remade and transformed from a dirty waif to the image of a proper young girl. She looked more alive than ever, her eyes no longer stared blankly now. She seemed to be almost animate with her pretty new hair and her clean, long dress. And thus she adorned our bedroom with her new found glory, saved from perhaps being thrown out with the trash by someone who no longer wanted her.
The important thing about this series of events was not how well she cleaned up but instead how you made the doll a metaphor for your own life. Like the doll you described how you were discarded but in the end had found belonging and beauty at last. In that way, you and the doll were one, perhaps even twins. Both of you were left by those who should have kept and treasured your beauty. Then later in life others found you and saw your quiet grace and cleansed away the layers of life’s grit so your natural splendor could be seen.
We should all hope that in our darkest hour someone will pick us up and wash away the dirty grime of existence that hides our shining, inherent glory and be given a new life just as you gave one to that lonely and nearly forgotten doll.