Thursday, March 17, 2011

Relocating the Goat Rodeo and Telling Toy Stories: Snuggles

Well, it seems I've begun down the path of a new series.  Yesterday, I told you my middle daughter's toy story.  Today, I'll tell you mine.

When I think of toys from my childhood, I see visions of my huge collection of Cabbage Patch Dolls.  I think of the G.I. Joes my nephew and I threw out the window with coffee filters attached as parachutes.  I remember the Strawberry Shortcake kitchen set my parents surprised me with when I was 3 (and which was well-loved for many many years). Yet the one toy my mind constantly returns to is Snuggles.

Snuggles was a doll where you pulled a tab on her back and her head rotated around--think snuggling, not the 360 degree Exorcist head turning.  She had a purple outfit and with lace cuffs.  Unlike my children's toys which fall to pieces in a matter of hours, Snuggles' tab still works and the doll still cuddles with you when you pull the well-worn tab on her back.

Snuggles was one of the last things my aunt gave me.  When I was born, she was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer.  She would survive only 2 years after that diagnosis.

I was only 2 and half when she passed away, but I have vivid memories of her and most of those memories revolve around toys.  My mother once told me that, on some level, everyone knew we were going to lose my aunt, so she made a particular point of being a presence in my life.  I vividly remember playing with her and my uncle with a Disney car set that they bought me.  I don't remember many specifics, but I remember playing, being happy and I remember her smiling.  I don't ever remember her being in pain.  In all my memories of her, she's there with me smiling and playing.

I don't remember when she gave me Snuggles, but I've always known she did.  I don't ever specifically remember being told that, but it must have been emphasized enough because I never think of that doll without thinking of Aunt Roe.  I remember, as a child, my parents had prepared me as best they could for her death, but I was still baffled, confused and devastated.  I remember hugging Snuggles tight and rocking her while hiding in the basement yelling at G-d.

Snuggles still lives in the toy box in my parents' basement.  Life has gone on for the rest of us.  My uncle remarried.  My cousins grew up and had kids of their own.  Some of their kids have kids now.  My focus shifted from my dolls to writing and eventually computers.  Snuggles and her lot were packed away and moved to the basement.  That basement went from, "Mine," to "My parents'."  I moved away, got married, had kids, and left Snuggles behind.  She's still there, today, buried in my parents' basement.  Nearly every time we're there, I sneak down to visit her.  I've shown her to my oldest daughters, who were not impressed.  Snuggles is a mess, but unlike Aunt Roe or my childhood, Snuggles is still there and every time I visit her, she's exactly as I remember.

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