Nick’o’lena, a doll’s story
When I was a little girl, I remember lining up my dolls on the couch. My oldest doll had first appeared in photos from when my mom was first married. She named the doll “Gena-Thea” after my two grandmas.
My oldest brother was much like the neighbor in the Toy Story movie. He always took my dolls apart to see how they worked, after which, of course they no longer worked. Gena-Thea used to cry, “Ma,Ma!” until he dissected her voice box from her cloth body. He had to see how her eyes blinked and how they closed as she was laid down. He cracked her cellulite head along the seams dividing the sides of her head. Even though she was stitched up and her head was glued together, her eyes remained fixated straight ahead and wide open following the “repair,” and her eyelashes were partially missing.
I loved her still, nonetheless.
My “Chatty Baby’s” body was also split so the miniature record-player could be inspected. I kept that doll in pieces for years, hoping for a replacement. It was such a cute doll, reminding me of my baby cousin, Dena, with her short, dark hair. No longer did the doll have a string to pull or the voice device so she could live up to her name.
I had dolls with stubbled hair. The lovely locks fell victim to some scissor happy kid barber. I had two dolls which didn’t do much but blink, and they had sculpted hair so “Big and Little Linda” survived intact.
Lastly, my favorite Christmas doll festively named “Nick’o’Lena!” She had a baby’s face and platinum-blonde hair with a small, ribboned ponytail on top. When I wound up a crank on her back, her head swayed to the music box’s lullaby. She had soft knit footed pajamas. Curiosity again took over as Nick’o’Lena’s lost her musical box with the extension which turned her head to my brother’s workshop.
Years later as i was a cashier at a thrift store, one customer purposely sought and purchased “pre-loved” dolls with missing limbs, etc., annually as a Christmas tradition in her family. Her family fixed-up and cleaned-up the dolls, dressing them with fancy clothes for the family’s Christmas gift exchange.
I always liked the darling “misfit” doll in the Rudolph cartoon. There is an on-line, never-ending debate as to what defines her as a “misfit,” however.
I identified with a client who loved her dolls with all of their imperfections.
I wrote the following poem for her;
March 9, 2010
Whenever I think of Mary Ann and her collection,
Of her friends and dolls; their imperfections,
I’d try to see through her eyes and see her love’s reflection,
And I would see how she’d see each of them without bias or rejection.
For her unconditional love came so naturally.
She gave each of her friends and family,
Undying love, sweetness and strength in her loyalty,
As they faced challenges with impending fraility.
She looked out for her family and her friends,
Even when faced with her own frustrations,
Mary Ann understood as she worked on becoming more patient.
For she truly in her whole heart and being,
Wished to be good and faithfully seen,
Even when things didn’t always make sense to her,
She looked towards happiness without great fear.
Mary Ann fully loved and appreciated us all,
And the adventure of her life’s journey, its summits and falls,
I saw it reflected in her eyes towards us and her collection of dolls.