I paused just long enough to think, 'hum?' It is winter break and my kids are home from school. Jack, my lazy bones cat, would normally be snoozing on my side of the bed and he wasn't there. Maybe, I thought, one of the kids kindly pulled my covers up so Jack would be sleeping on the comforter and not on my sheets. Right! Like that would happen!
As I pulled back the covers to make my bed I jumped just a little as I saw Chuckie hiding out. This silly doll finally made her way to our bed! She spent last week terrorizing the relatives who came to visit. My SIL was the first to find her under her covers. Chuckie spent the next five days moving from bed to closet, to bed, to suitcase, to under the bed, to laundry shoot, to bed. She kept the upstairs group occupied, jumping and laughing.
The story of Chuckie is one of my favorites. Two years ago as my mom was not winning her battle with GBM, I spent a fair amount of time with her at my grandmother's. You may or may not recall that my mom spent the last six months of her life at home which meant at grandma's ranch style house...just a mile from my semi-childhood home. A hospital was not going to be able to help mom. In the end, the wonderful service of Hospice was called upon. But...
On one of my weekend visits up north to my mom, my grandmother, who had been an avid doll collector for at least 20 years, asked if I thought my twelve-year-old daughter would like one of her dolls, specifically an American Girl Doll. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? OF COURSE! I wanted to shout at my Grams. Instead I answered, "Grams, you know she'd love anything you send her way."
I learned a long time ago, that my grandmother was a trash collector and she could not really part with anything! If she did give you something you just needed to kindly accept it and then dispose of it when you returned to your own home. It was just how she was. My grandmother did have a huge doll collection though. It was housed in a room of her house that no one was allowed in. Of course I snuck in there, when I visited my mom and grams was out shopping. I was naturally curious. The room was lined with boxes containing dolls. Piles and piles. You could barely walk through the place and some of the stacks were a good six feet high. WOW! Grams had an original Xavier Roberts Cabbage Patch Doll from the 80's. I know because I recall when that craze first started and my Grandpa bought it for her. It was gorgeous. I was in my late teens and the doll came to our house that fall: Grandpa didn't want it going to his house. I had this dream that the doll was really for me. Her blond curls and frilly dress begged for a young girl to cuddle. I was envious and sad that Christmas as Grams opened the package and I did not. Still, it was a very cool thing Grandpa did for her. Grams had collected just about every Madame Alexander doll there was to collect. She had boxes and boxes of Barbies. From Star Wars dolls to "Gay Bob." If it was a doll, she had it. So, did I think my daughter would like an American Girl Doll from her Great-Grandmother?
My Grandmother disappeared into that doll-room-cave for about fifteen minutes. When she re-emerged she was not carrying an American Girl Doll. Instead she had "Chuckie" as I called her, naked Chuckie. In fact, with her messed up hair she looked like some long lost jungle baby. My Grandmother asked in a serious voice, "I couldn't find one of my American Girl Dolls, but do you think your daughter would like this doll?"
What could I say? "Are you crazy Grams?" "NO WAY" "OMG! WHAT IS THAT THING?" "Yikes!" I just answered, "Grams you know she'd love anything you send her way." "I think I have a dress I can put on her," my Grams said and then she disappeared into another room for ten more minutes. My Grams was a generous soul, but she had a daughter lying in a nearby bed who was dying and her mind just couldn't focus. I would take the doll home to my daughter...but that doll wasn't riding up in the cab of the car with me.
My Grams found the red dress Chuckie now wears. She cleaned up the doll, did her hair and dressed and diapered her! When I returned to Bloomington I told my daughter I had a gift for her from her Great-Grandmother and I told my son not to be jealous. I made my daughter go out to the trunk of the car to get her gift.
We all did get a good laugh out of this doll and situation. No one wanted her to come into the house. But she did. She usually quietly sits down in the basement on a shelf minding her own business. Every few months, when it's least expected, she shows up in a bed, in a closet, under a bed peeking out, around the corner at a set of stairs, any place a good jolt is needed.
As I said earlier, last week my SIL was the first to see Chuckie during their visit. Good old Chuckie...she brings smiles and a laugh to our household. Thanks Grams, may your generous soul rest in peace!