First posted 10/3/11
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 CJ 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 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 CJ. 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 Mrs. Chatterbox, 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 CJ wasn’t looking, went to the Rainbow Bridge years ago, but it would be hardest to explain where CJ went. Our son was three when Richard Paul came to live with us the Christmas of ’83. CJ is now thirty-two 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 CJ’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 CJ 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.
Did you ever lose someone special? I still mourn the loss of my Woody Woodpecker doll.
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