Monday, November 26, 2012

Melba and the babysitter

Art dolls by Laurie Johnson.
In another of those previous lifetimes to which I refer, I had a business making stocking-faced dolls.  As I was getting started, developing patterns and models, my sister and I sat and sewed together.  She created the pair shown here, gumball-headed Melba and her babysitter.  They have been with me for nearly 40 years and grow more dear with age. Their gowns are made from scraps, the babysitter's hair a doll product from the 1970s, a few inches from a lengthy hank of curly mohair.  Bits of exhausted pantyhose, stuffed with polyester fiberfill, are heads and hands.  Real blush colors the cheeks.  The same doll-making supply house that carried the mohair also sold the narrow double-faced satin ribbon.

I believe passionately in the right we each have to choose our path, no matter how far it may carry us from a rational course.  Who is to define rational?  We are drawn toward that which exerts itself upon us, away from that with the weaker gravitational pull.  Even to try and insinuate our notions of a right trajectory on anyone else is arrogant, demeaning.   We cannot possibly know the terrible price someone has paid just to be where they are, just to be.   Without that wisdom, how can we correct or condemn their actions.  We each reside in the center of a unique universe, bombarded by media-invented images of success and contentment, often questioning why we must take such adaptive, evasive, circuitous steps to approach a version of peace.

My sister has found her comfort level in less frequent communication and while I miss what had once been elevated foolishness along with so much shared DNA, I can only support her choice.   As I think of everything and everyone I have known that no longer fits me any better than those size 8 1/2 Calvin Klein rosy metallic flats, I wrap my imposed estrangement up in a mental flannel blanket, ends tucked around tight to keep the baby from feeling unsafe in life's drafty expanse.  For decades the babysitter has kept watch over the sturdy and cheerful-seeming Melba, knowing at times that bravado and idiocyncrasies are all that keep us tethered.  Whatever it takes.


Erin in Morro Bay said...

My little sister decided when I came out that she could no longer have a relationship with me and we have been estranged for 10 years now. It took awhile, but I have reached the point where I can remember and enjoy what we had, rather than mourn for what we've now lost.

beth coyote said...

Sweet and melancholy story. Everything changes, doesn't it?

O I love the dolls.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Erin - So much beyond our control, which is the good news and the bad. I'm sorry your sister felt the need to make such a choice. I'm glad that you, too, have richer times to remember. Ceaseless grieving only wears us out. Sending love. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Beth - It changes and so often we have no idea why. To speculate is pointless. I'm glad you love the dolls. Their story is nowhere near finished. xo