On Sunday November 4th, bloggers and webmasters and status-keepers everywhere will lay their pens down on white paper and social pages to write peace. Bloggers will use keyboards, singers will sing songs, artists will draw and paint, some will dance and some will preach. All will tell a story. It’s what peace bloggers do.
Let’s brew a hot cup of tea and have a chat. Peace weekend has begun!
As tradition holds, here’s the story of The Doll Box as told on this blog many years ago. As was his usual custom, Papa visited one bright sunny morning and reminded me of the dusty old box. I expect him to direct me straightway into another tale come tomorrow morning. We’ll have to wait and see what transpires between my world and his.
This is the story of The Doll Box.
And for some reason on this chilly November night as I wait for another launch of peace globes, I can almost hear him speak and hover about, waiting right along with the rest of us. The dolls must be shared once again.
So Papa….I miss you. I love you. Speak.
The Doll Box
I planted the last Black-Eyed Susan in the clay pot on the deck, richly purple, and staring at me with an eye in the center of royalty’s colored fall beauty. I dug and rearranged and poured in fertilizer. Watered. Played in the dirt.
“Plant one more in the pot, Mimi. She’d like it that way.”
“They remind me of her,” I said out loud. “The dark ones she loved best. The Black-Eyed ones I don’t care for, but I plant them anyway because she loved them so. I think they look disheveled and untidy – if a flower can be that way – and as she could be in the morning times. Her hair a mess and a cigarette over coffee, frying bacon at 5am so that you’d have a great start to your day, wrinkled robe and a smelly kitchen. One bright spot of colorful charm – like my Black Eyed Susan – was you, Papa.”
I stopped planting and looked up.
I fixed my eyes upon the face of the man who held the key to my heart ever since the day I took my first breath. I put the trowel down, the dirt fell from my fingers and I found myself sitting in the fall sunlight, listening to leaves drop playfully from the trees that surrounded me. I watched them fall almost on command at his overgrown feet that were firmly planted in front of me.
Pansies could wait.
He roared a belly laugh I thought I’d never hear again this side of Heaven. It nearly rocked me off balance, causing me to drop the flat of pansies on the deck…..
Will you stay?”
I sat down again, wondering if I’d done something wrong. He sounds serious. Does he want to talk about the marbles? Yes, that must be it. The marbles. He wants to tell me how he made them. He’ll tell me and I’ll tell my readers and they’ll tell people and he’ll explain it all.
And now they were both gone.
I just wanted to see him smile again.
“But why, Mimi…..why do you need so many?”
I sighed. Doesn’t he understand?
I stopped digging.
Had I disappointed him?
If there’s one thing about my Papa that was always the best thing, it was his deliberate ability to cut through my facade and get to the truth – usually without a word and never with a scold. Any serious conversation he made with me always came on the palpable presence of one who loved me unconditionally. I never doubted his intent for my good or his wish for my clear understanding. Laden with well-worn common sense wisdom, I soaked it up often, playing carefully at his painfully laced shoes which criss-crossed in front of me on the living room floor at the bottom of the green leather recliner he loved. And today, I felt much like that seven-year-old.
Papa had one more story to tell.
” Oh yes, Papa. I still have them. I keep them in the box for safekeeping. They are in perfect condition though the box is yellowed now and torn on the edge. I still see your address, your name, the paid postage stamp and the tape.”
He suddenly got a serious look.
“I remember the day you asked me for them. We were thumbing through a catalog and you squealed with delight. ‘One hundred dolls!! How could 100 dolls come in one box?’ you asked.”
I went inside to get the box. I’m writing this story at my usual perch at the table trying to recapture on paper what other-worldly thing has just happened in my pansy world. In my mind’s eye I am still there, on the porch with my Papa and we are planting pansies and the sun is hot and the leaves are falling. My pen is flowing and I don’t want to leave. We are having such a lovely day. All is right and he has chosen to visit me now. I don’t want to break the spell. I don’t want to open the box…but it is there in front of me on the table.
I picked it up, put my reading glasses on trying to make out the fine print. I reach for a magnifying glass to help but for some reason, I put it down. I couldn’t. I couldn’t look. I just couldn’t. If I do as he asked then my time with him will be over and I can’t stand the thought of that.
I picked it up again.
285 Market Street
What’s so special about this old box of dolls? They’re plastic and probably a few are missing. Pink. Flimsy. Tiny little things.
“NOW I know how they got so many dolls in one box. They don’t look like the picture in the magazine at all. They are very small and I think I might even break them.”
Back in the box. Back in the box. Always back in the box.”
This was not going to be easy. What does he want me to see? There won’t be an obvious blue world-globe-like-marble sitting there this time. We’re talking about prissy dolls for a prissy girl who turned into a prissy woman who has no idea why she’s crying at her keyboard in the middle of this unfinished story.
I decided to open the box.
Tricky Dogs. They were magnets. One white dog. One black dog. When you start to play with them they always gravitate toward each other. After forty years the magnet is still strong. I turned them over in my hands and read the back of the box.
Directions: Place one Tricky Dog on a surface (polished wood or glass) Push the other Tricky Dog up to it from behind, or sweep the second Tricky Dog in a half circle around the first one. Watch them twirl!
My tabletop is made of glass. I took the black one and put him up front, made a sneak attack by the white one and voila! the black dog began to spin in a circle – in an energetic frenzy – and aligned itself with the other one smashing into him, wagging their magnetic tails and gravitating together: smooching, the way only magnets can. When I was little, most often I played with the dolls, but Papa……he would gently nudge me to lay aside the Barbie doll brain and chase my dream in another direction. He was like that. Always dropping life lessons in my lap, at inopportune times like today, when I am planting pansies.
Is that right?”
Now my grownup mind understands such things. I know there really is no trick. I know they’re just heavily plastered metal toys with magnet skates on the bottom – but I’m not a grownup today. I’m a seven-year-old on the floor with my Papa and we are playing from the box he mail ordered for me in the 1960s. And I am laughing. The dogs – and the dolls – and Papa….still make me laugh.
I sighed. This observation is just too obvious. Magnets. Globes. Spinning earth balls. Earth Science. I get it! I turned to him with a knowing look and said,
Hmmm…It’s been forty years and I still haven’t played with all those dolls.
No time like the present.
I remembered how his hands were so large and gnarled, fumbling with the small creatures as they fell in his lap. I would laugh and we would start the dance again. The Buddha man would twirl with the Peruvian woman while the little boy with the ball – perhaps it was a jack-in-the-box – sat quietly in the middle of it all. They all got along in my peaceful box universe.
The dolls in my box lived in one world, dancing and spinning around.
I looked up from the land of pink twirling peace and saw a tear roll down his cheek to land on his steel-toed shoes. I could tell he longed for our pink doll world of friendly global dancers and I so wanted to never see him sad again.
“My life went sailing by,” he said, “like a thin silk pansy leaf falling on the wisp of a breeze. I blinked and it was gone. Not much older than you are today. So much left to do. So much left to say. Many more flowers to plant. Stars to catch. More dances to dance. My work was not done…But you knew that, didn’t you, Mimi?”
I did?“All I know, Papa, is that I wasn’t there that day. I canceled our outing and you left without me. You and grandmother went to the doctor and after that day I never saw you again. Not ever again. I was angry because you did not say goodbye. I was angry that I did not say goodbye. And I longed to tell you all my tales and all my stories through the years. I’ve waited for you to tell me what to do.”
I put the dolls down and looked at his wisdom worn face, anxious for the answers I needed. But he had a way of making me figure it out for myself. This day was no different.
“You do not need me to tell you what to do. I am proud of you and you are doing just fine. Just remember one thing: It takes all the dolls in the box to make the world a beautiful place, Mimi. They can’t hear what the other has to say unless you introduce them to one another and set their feet to dancing.
Take them out of the box.
The Doll Box was written for BlogBlast For Peace in November 2007. It is now time for Dona Nobis Pacem in the Blogosphere 2018. I never know what I’m going to write until the last minute. Some strange sort of sensation hits me about the stroke of midnight on the eve of each launch.That’s when Papa shows up, nudges my memory and honors me with a story.
Maybe I’d better get some sleep.
It could be a long – very long – night.
Reason #4 to Blog4Peace: The magic of dolls. And love. And dolls. And love.