Return of the Babies

A small (14cm) baby doll called Calineczka. To...
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©Jeanne E. Webster

They arrived shortly after breakfast, during the lull between chores and the second cup of coffee. What a pair! Bright eyes adorned each face, a hint of realism emanated from the wisp of a smile on each pouty mouth. Is it their aura? Maybe their realness comes from the part they played in the life of their owner? Who knows…what matters is that they are back. Back home among the living, with memories and blessings to share with one and all. They have been sheltered for nigh on seven years now.

That might not seem long to you, but it has been forever to a grieving family. You see, “Mother” had passed on to a finer, gentler locale, immediately draping them in shock and woe. Over the ensuing years, an innocent event ripped the family closeness, tearing to shreds its fragile fabric. It all started when “Father” realized he was quite uncomfortable living alone; he knew his children could not supply him with the kind of companionship his lonely spirit needed. He was aching for the closeness of another human heart, one that could love him as a man needs to be loved. That ache soon drove a wedge between him and his daughters.

His remarriage was a success, showering his world with peace and joy; grief slowly released its icy grip on his heart. He was loved again, a man again, his new wife assured him of this every day. Family members visited often, except for the estranged daughters. They rumored about that the new “mother” was throwing out everything their mother held dear; withholding their affections and contact with Dad was their way of saying, “We do not like this woman living in our mother’s house and sharing your life.” So they stood resolutely in this position…for four long years.

The new “mother” tried to tiptoe around their feelings, touching nothing of their mother’s that was left in the back bedroom, now looked upon as… an inner sanctum. “Enter at your own risk!” She had entered it early on in the marriage and redistributed an assortment of cookbooks gathering dust in the closet. Some books stayed; some were donated to the public library, all with the “father’s” oversight and permission. Somehow, the one cookbook that meant the whole world to the girls turned up missing. This innocent deed severed completely the scrap of a relationship left between Dad and his daughters. The vagrant book was found later but the damage had been done.

One day, three years later, the new “mother” felt a stir within her spirit to dispel the sacredness of the bedroom, hoping to bring the light of day into it, rather than gather dust, and spiders and mites, lying low in the dimness of the past days. She braved the creepy-crawlies skittering up her back, opened the door and entered. Nothing happened! The walls did not come crashing down, the ceiling remained intact, and the room actually beckoned to her. “Come on in, dear one.” So she did.

Looking around in the dim light of early morning, “new mother” noticed a toy cradle over in a corner near “Mother’s” vanity. “How sweet,” she thought. The cradle held a doll that looked so life-like; she had to step closer to see it was not a real baby. Around the skirting of the bed sat another cradle, holding another doll, as realistic as the first.

“I think these babies need to get some fresh air and see the light of day,” and with that, she carried them carefully out of “storage” into the living room. Placing them in strategic spots, she stood back and admired these priceless little ones.

You see, they had been special dolls to “Mother” and after her own children left the nest, they helped ease her loneliness for her grown girls. She had chosen them from the doll shop because they looked so much like her own daughters. She’d glance over at them as she worked in the bedroom or passed by in the hallway, smiling at them as if they were her “own” for the time being. Somehow, I believe they too felt they were her “own.”

Well, after their special reappearance in the household, things seemed to go better for the “Father” and “new mother.” Visiting family members warmed up to Dad’s new wife and found out she wasn’t really a conniving old woman after all. Sure, she would never replace their mother, but they knew she brought joy and love back into their Dad’s life. And that’s all that mattered.

I wonder if the presence of these two little ones somehow triggered some long ago happy memories within the heart of this family and helped them to accept the change that life had brought upon them. I would like to think so.