Monday, October 3, 2011

Finding Richard Paul

          While cleaning out the garage yesterday I discovered him in a box on a dusty shelf, his leg caught in our old George Foreman grill. His unblinking eyes fixed on me when I reached for him, as if to say, “Where’s everybody been?” 
     Richard Paul, showing signs of the fierce love our son Colin lavished on him long ago, was once an integral member of our family. Richard Paul is a Cabbage Patch Doll.
     I was thinking about him a few weeks back when a distant relative of his showed up on one of those pawn shop programs sprouting up on TV. It turns out that Richard Paul is actually worth a few bucks. He’d be worth more if he still had his birth certificate and adoption papers, which I’m sorry to say he doesn’t. And I’m sure the signs of wear and tear on his face and body, indications of just how much our son adored him, would detract from his value. Not that it matters. In spite of what people pawn on TV programs, I couldn’t possibly sell a family member, even one with an eye peeling loose. And even if I could persuade myself to do so, even if I could locate his adoption papers, he rightfully belongs to Colin. Just ask Santa! 
    Strange how Richard Paul's blue eyes bore into you. How do I explain that it isn’t the 80s anymore, or even the 90s. I'm sure Richard Paul recognizes me as he would Sue, although our hair is a bit grayer and I’m chubbier than before. Our dog Ginger, who used to carry him from room to room when Colin wasn’t looking, went to the Rainbow Bridge years ago, but it would be hardest to explain where Colin went. Our son was five when Richard Paul came to live with us the Christmas of ’85. Colin is now thirty-one years old.
     As I brush dust off the tangled yarn hair, I remember Richard Paul sitting at our dining room table, smiling as our little boy tried to push food into his unmoving mouth. We once lugged Richard Paul to Hawaii because our son refused to be separated from him. But Richard Paul’s proudest moment came when he offered to spend the night in Colin’s closet. Our son was sure a boy-eating lion was waiting in there to gobble him up the moment we turned off the light and closed the door. I confess that I was the one who volunteered Richard Paul for this assignment, but in the morning when Colin flung open his closet door and saw his unblinking adopted brother sitting there, uneaten and not mauled, it was Richard Paul who got the credit.
     I gently returned him to his box, careful to keep his legs away from the jaws of the George Foreman grill. I replaced the box on the shelf. The pang of sadness I felt was lessened by the gladness of knowing Richard Paul was no longer lost.
     Just waiting…. 
     Did you ever lose someone special? I still mourn the loss of my Woody Woodpecker doll.


  1. Really? With so many hits for this post, there must be someone out there willing to admit to missing a stuffed teddy bear or fluffy childhood buddy. How about a favorite toy? C'mon, I won't tell anyone.

  2. The best thing about those Cabbage Patch dolls was the birth cert/adoption papers. I forgot about that. Thanks for the sweet memories.

    I used to have a beautiful china doll wearing a fancy lace dress. Wish I still had her.

    Be well, Stephen.

  3. I'm glad to hear that although you seem reasonably happy to stick a member of your family in the garage for 26 years you would never sell them :)

    As a kid I used to have more toys than there was space for me in the bed - i still have my favourite and after some years in a drawer he sits by my alarm as a reminder of our friendship

  4. I don't really miss my toys - I never really had a special one, but I kind of wish my Major Matt Mason was still around. Hardly anyone seems to have heard of hero Matt Mason who, although designed by his makers to be an astronaut, spent many of working days in the bath, in the garden (an alien world?) or just about anywhere but space - real or imagined. He was my brother's but I adopted him and played with him the most.

  5. I kept most of my kids' toys. My husband reminds me how ridiculous this is, every month when our bill comes for the storage unit, which I've filled with toys and other memorabilia. I think it's important that they be kept. Plus, I think they're real, with personalities and nerve endings, so I not only keep them, I lay them in bins gently with their mouths uncovered, making sure they're not squishing or strangling each other.

    I still have my Thumbelina doll, which I got when I was about 4 or 5. Her hair is gone - disintegrated - and her face is covered with blotches of something black, probably mold. I had her on a chair in the bedroom for a while but she creeped my husband out and he kept throwing a blanket over her (stop! she can't breathe!!!) so she's sitting comfortably in my closet now.

  6. Hi Stephen,
    My daughter had a cabbage patch doll that she ended up selling for $100 when she was fifteen, I think it I'm sure the value has increased a lot since then since she's 43 now...
    To answer your question on my blog-we are going to Germany to visit my other daughter and then tour southern France and Brittany--really looking forward to it! I hope to blog while we're there!