by Jean Nishi, For the North American Post
Many times I have tried to let go, donate, give away, or discard possessions no longer of value to me. In a chest of drawers full of old things is an assortment of items that should have been dealt with years ago, but for some unexplainable, emotional reason they’re still with me. However, among all these “cast-aways” is one treasure, a beloved doll.
On Christmas morning over 60 years ago, I was surprised with a gift that would become a childhood favorite. It was the “Toni” doll, named after the popular home permanent of that time. Included with her came a sugar-water solution and curling rods to set her hair. The red cotton dress she wore was adorned with small pink flowers along the hem and a white collar which highlighted her delicate face: small narrow lips, a slight nose, bright, blinking eyes and black painted brows to match her hair.
She was the most beautiful doll I had ever seen.
Hours would pass while I curled and combed out different hair-dos. Some were worn up, some casted down, and some swept to one side. And then, there were all the clothes. I sewed dresses, tops and pants, pajamas and then, the fancy evening gowns.
There was never enough material, or a lack of ideas: a hula skirt made from corn grass, a wool hat from an old sweater, a scarf from my father’s silk tie; these were just a few of my creations. Oh, we would have so much fun. She and I could be anybody and go anywhere. Together, we could be lost in a world of fantasy.
Inevitably, there comes that moment when the clock strikes 12:00 and the pretending sadly comes to an end. The little girls and boys grow up and put aside their favorite toys along with their imagination and dreams.
My doll was tucked away and forgotten, but over the years I would come across her while I was cleaning or moving things. I always took a moment to reflect on those fond and innocent days of play.
Presently, I’m at a stage in my life when I desperately need to part with many of my belongings. The modern term for it is “downsizing”. The china my parents left behind, the unused wedding gifts, my children’s ballet costumes and yes, my precious doll all need to find a new home.
Where do I find these wonderful places and people? I truly would like to unburden myself of these objects, especially my doll, but how when I keep envisioning her thrown on a shelf somewhere going unnoticed and unwanted. My poor doll, after so many years, her limbs are loose and dangling, her painted face fading and her once shiny black hair dull and matted.
I cannot bear to think she won’t be taken care of and loved, but I will have to come to terms soon. She’ll be left in my drawer, for now, until the next time I find her and remember again a much happier time.
JEAN NISHI was a “Camp Baby” born in the Minidoka WRA, Idaho, 1943. She graduated from Garfield High School, receiving her BA at the UW in education. She was an ESL instructor at Seattle Central Community College. Jean and her husband, George, live in Seattle and have two daughters.