I had to be at least five years old, when I first saw her. Mother, Daddy, and I were walking through one of the larger department stores in Columbia, South Carolina. We were making our way to the toy section, where the store kept the most wonderful baby doll perched high-up in a glass case, safe from the reach of curious children. The label underneath the shelf on which she sat read, “Baby Dear.” Oh boy, I wanted that Baby Dear. She was beautiful, and just the right fit for my little arms to cradle, or so she looked the perfect fit, I hadn’t actually been allowed to hold her.
My folks and I rounded the corner, approaching the doll’s perch, when to my dismay…she was gone! The lovely doll, the only one I wanted…she was gone. I was heart sick. I started to cry. I really-really wanted that Baby Dear.
I have forgotten so much about that night, it was a long time ago. Also, I was young and probably not paying attention to much about the night. But I do remember Mother telling me that Santa Claus had come and taken Baby Dear away.
There were all kinds of wonderful presents under the tree that Christmas morning. My sister and I both hit the jackpot that year.
I wish I could recall my exact thoughts, I can imagine them, what went through my head when I saw her lying so sweetly in the little maple crib my parents had bought for her. It was Baby Dear!
I loved playing with my doll. Her body was soft, she was cuddly. I would draw her to my chest, her head would nestle against the bend of my neck, her arms flop against my shoulders. It was like holding a real baby. She was precious!
Many years passed, I married, and two years later we moved across the country. Baby Dear looked like a well-played-with, worn-out doll when I bagged her to be stored along with my other dolls at Grandmother’s country home. It would be some years later before I thought about them, the dolls, but I was told the mice had got in the bag and destroyed my dolls, including my sweet Baby Dear. My heart sank; I wanted that doll.
Five years ago, I was telling this story to a friend of mine. I told her how much I had treasured the doll as a little girl, and how I hated it that she had been thrown away. I wasn’t paying attention to my son, who happened to overhear our conversation.
I don’t have to tell you how deeply I was touched or why there were tears in my eyes, when two months later I opened the present my son had for me on my birthday. My little family and I were gathered around the picnic table where I sat opening my gifts. His was the last gift I opened. We were laughing and making small talk when I pulled the paper away and there laying so sweetly in the box…Baby Dear. I gasped. Tears formed in my eyes…more than for the doll, but for the precious thought and motive that had gone behind his selection. I had never doubted my son’s love, but that he had gone to such length to get me a doll exactly like mine. She was the same size, had the same hair color, and was made the same year of my birth. He had put a lot of thought and care behind his giving and yes, I was deeply touched.