May is motherhood memoir month

Devious Dolls

What do you do with your mother’s doll collection after she dies? No one wanted them, except my youngest daughter, but we had to fly home from Las Vegas, and she already had too many dolls for the size of our house.

“You can have one box of dolls. One small box,” I said, giving in, trying to think where we would put them when we got back to our down-sized house in the Pacific Northwest. We’d gone from 6 kids to 4, to 2, and now finally, to one; one child who still wants to play with dolls at 11. In today’s grow-up fast culture that’s got to be a good thing, right?

A year and a half later, as our daughter turned 13, she asked for only one birthday gift: a dollhouse for her American Girl dolls, which are quite large. But when your quarantined daughter becomes a teen and still wants to play with dolls, it might be time to give in.

We built a 3-story doll house, 6 feet tall, 4 feet wide, and 2 feet deep. And then she remembered grandma’s dolls, still in that box carefully hidden away in the garage. “They want to attend the open house,” she said.

So we got them down. Shirley Temple, my mother’s favorite, the one we took to her hospice room, leaped off the rolling table and broke her hand right before my mother died. My husband offers to fashion her a wire claw. I grimace. There is already something eerie about this doll that I have not seen since my mother was alive.

Our daughter lines up a row of Madame Alexander dolls. She remembers there are more dolls than this. I nod, but can’t remember where. She climbs up into the attic loft and searches but can’t find them. I’m not sure where they are either. Maybe I surreptitiously took them to Goodwill. I can’t remember.

Meanwhile, the house is filling up with dolls getting ready to attend the big event, and all of them have taken on a devious expression, their eyes following me around the rooms, but no one sees it. Except me.

Today’s prompt- Write about something a relative collected and you inherit.

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