Lay-go shared many adventures with Vicki such as backpacking in the Tetons while traveling inside of Vicki’s belt. She went whitewater rafting on the Snake but was kept in the oarsman’s chest. “Obviously, this doll is worth a lot, and we wouldn’t want her to be washed overboard. She’ll be safe there even if the raft turns over.” Which it nearly did! She visited Scouts Rest, Buffalo Bill’s ranch in Nebraska. She loved sunning by Uncle Rick’s pool in California. She even looked over the Grand Canyon. Teddy later told me that she told him that she had been “terrible frightened…” “It’s such an enormous place, and young Mistress and me so small.”

     Time turned upon itself while the seasons of Vicki’s growing up marched on: First came school, and the doll sat on Vicki’s bed all day, one leg thrown jauntily over the other. Then came the teenage years. Change was unremitting. I still saw the doll lying across Vicki’s throat at night; and I wondered what tragedies and triumphs had been whispered to her.

     Teddy attempted to console: “I know, old girl, I know. My mistress was just the same. We are meant to serve only as long as we are needed, and then others take our place. But never you fear. All you have to do is to be here and to be loyal and true blue. I wait here patiently. Even though she rarely picks me up or talks to me, she smiles. I have been with her through all her times. I was here during the happy days when Young Mistress came to us. I was here when Eldest Mistress, the one who bore my mistress, died, and my mistress was so sad… Yes, our place is to be here always and wait for their smiles.

     “Oh, shu-up, silly old bear.”

     “You’ll see, Toots, you’ll see – but you must learn it for yourself.”

     Vicki married and moved away, and Lay-go-bye was stored in a shed with other possessions. Bill saw her leg sticking out, rescued her, and brought her home.

     “Well, hallo, old girl! I see you’ve come back. That’s just bully because it’s been boring around here. What’s happened to your hair? There’s a bunch of it gone. What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue? Oh well, I’ll just take a little nap.”


     I borrowed a pattern from my friend, Phyllis Otto, made new clothes for Lay-go and replaced her stuffing – a real labor of love as I’m no seamstress. I put her with Teddy and set Pink Dollbaby on her lap. “Not a happy arrangement,” Teddy told me. “She’s quit talking, but I know she doesn’t like it.” Vicki said, “I’ll leave Lay-go with you for a while. She’s so fragile that I’m afraid the boys might tear her up.”

     I made an Andy for Billy when he said he had bad dreams. “Then you need someone to chase away the monsters,” I said. I found a box of candy hearts at a convenience store. I told Billy, “This is Andy. He will always smile at you and be with you when you have bad dreams. He has a candy heart.” I also inserted a new heart in Lay-go-bye’s chest and told Bill, “Now Lay-go will be whole again!”

     She said to Teddy, “You’re still hear I see.”

     “Hallo? Why, you’re talking again. Over the sulks, are you?”

     “Oh, I’ve had the most dreadful time, and the mice got part of my hair.” “Oh well old girl, I don’t care how you look!”

      Then came the identical twins Christopher Blue and Tony Red who were dressed in those colors so their parents could tell them apart. When they were three the whir of the sewing machine was heard. Old Teddy was rudely awakened by a flood of questions: “Where are we? Who’s that skinny old relic with the brown fur? Who’s that ugly redhead and that pink thing? Where’s our masters?”

     “What in the world?” said Teddy. “Oh lordy-day!” there on the couch sat two Andy’s, but they didn’t stay long!

     “Thank goodness those raucous, ill-mannered brats are gone!”  “You bet your boots, Toots.”

     Teddy, Lay-go and Pink Dollbaby sat quietly together for a couple of years. One Christmas, after Vicki had had a hard year, I put Lay-go-bye in a box that I left under Vicki’s tree. It was time for the old doll with the True-Love heart to return to her mistress.

     Vicki called. “Oh Mom…” she said in a quivery voice. “That’s the best Christmas gift I ever had.” I replied Lay-go-bye came at Christmastime, and I thought this was the time for her to come home.”

     I still have Teddy and kiss him on the nose sometimes. Also, Billy’s Andy is living with us. He is minus an arm. Teddy says he lost it when the three boys were scuffling and Billy swung Andy by it – whap, whap, whap!



A drawing of a road at sunrise
All Paths Lead to the Sun

Unable to sleep, I finally got up at 4:30, made a cup of coffee and went to my computer. There were e-mails to read, lists to make and writing to do. I knew that events to come would put me behind. My last sister, Christine, had taken a turn for the worse following emergency surgery.

     I was heading down the hall to take a shower when the telephone rang: “The doctors said to call the family.” I threw on some clothes and rushed out.

     Whether I sped up or slowed down, I hit every red light. Why is it that when you’re in a hurry inanimate objects become the enemies of your urgent need? At least I’d been able to find my purse and car keys without losing precious moments. “I must hurry; I must hurry!” Impatiently I’d wait for a green light. “Change, dammit, change!”

     My frustration level eased whe I keft the Indianapolis strip malls behind and crossed the Hancock Co. line. Every house, barn and woods along Road 40 is familiar to me. It’s a path back to where I came from.

     There was little traffic, and I could virtually drive on autopilot so that my interior monologue was free to run: “I could have been a better sister.” I tried to bargain. You know what I mean, don’t you? “I’d be more attentave, call more and visit more often… Oh God, how good I’ll be in the future if only…!”


     Daylight was coming. I’m a connoisseur of sunrises, and this one was glorious. Pink clouds floated in the pale, ice-blue vault of the eastern sky, and just above the horizon stood the sun like a giant orange, casting a fiery glow onto the clouds immediately surrounding it. As it leisurely and majestically rose higher, it turned to a burnished gold and accordingly changed the tints of the cloud-canvas upon which it was painting.

     The sun spoke: “I was here long before you and shall be here for eternity. Why are you hurrying? All your lists are of little import; and your haste will have no effect whatsoever on the outcome, nor will your feeble attempts at bargains. Do not fret about your petty shortcomings… Love cannot be toted up in an account book or measured like so much flour or sugar. Leave eternity to eternity. Be at peace and savor this special beauty that I am revealing to you. You will never again see me rise exactly like this.”

     The sun’s message was that of the book of Ecclesiastes written by Solomon:

One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh, but the earth abideth forever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about into the north; it whirleth about continually and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.

     Relieved of the angst that had been propelling me, I slowed down and settled down and began to prepare myself to deal with the terrible rent that Christine’s passing would tear in the fabric of my life. More than a sister, she was my best friend.

     Her eight children and I, their last aunt, were as close as chicks in a nest that day when the time came to turn off the machines. After everyone had left I went back and sat quietly with her for the last time.

     I realized the final lesson that the sun had to impart was that Christine’s story is unending. It will continue like the sun’s risings and settings through all of the generations to come of which she is the ancestress. She has returned to the source of the wind and rivers as is one with the sun.


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