Extended Family?

By Rose Ann Sinay

I have five naked plastic bodies in my blanket chest at the end of my bed. Each is encased in its own white plastic bag, the yellow drawstring tightly drawn and knotted. They keep me awake at night wondering what I should do with them.

I blame my sister, Tammy, who (on her ninth birthday) asked for the trendy Crissy doll. It was the size of a nine month old baby and sported a shank of growing/retractable red hair on the top of its head.

Mom happily complied. She’d never owned a store bought doll and frequently offered to buy us the newest plastic moppet on the market. We always declined, that is until my sister caved.

At first, Tammy was enthralled with the doll always busy braiding long thin lengths of its hair. Soon, after having exhausted ways to style the long nylon mane (so out of sync with the doll’s short, shaggy cap) she began hiding the toy under her stuffed animals. Never having been a doll person, I understood. Crissy’s very un-baby-like smile was, well, a bit creepy.

Unbeknownst to our mother, my sister gave the doll away, causing an effect we couldn’t have imagined.

Another Crissy (sans a pretty outfit) made her appearance when I was in high school. Mom bought it at a second hand store.

“Why?!” I asked when I saw it sitting on the table. I knew it wasn’t for me–I had made my dislike of dolls known early on–I’d cried when I received a Chatty Cathy for Christmas. And, it wasn’t for my sister who had not been forgiven for giving hers away.

Mom had bought it for herself. She’d owned one doll in her life–one made from stuffed handkerchiefs and tied with yarn. I’m sure she had pictured her own daughters’ toy boxes overflowing with an assortment of frilly dressed plastic babies.

“Crissy is a collectible,” my mother said. “And, it was a very good buy.” End of conversation.

And, collectible it was: one turned into two, two into three, and then, number four arrived. They showed up between the pillows on my parents’ bed and on my mother’s dresser. One escaped to the hall table and another sat in a rocker in the living room. My sister and I shook our heads in amusement.

When I complained about their naked bodies on display, mom bought a couple of baby sleepers. It didn’t help. They were still creepy.

My sister held her tongue about the dolls (guilt?), but pushed back when she found Crissy number four sitting on the double bed that we shared.

“Not again,” my sister said as she walked it back to our mother’s room.

We teased mom about her growing plastic family. She laughed at our aversion to her doll collection. Some days the hair on their rubber heads was braided and tied off with ribbons; some days they wore new sleepers. The dolls moved from place to place. My sister and I ignored their existence. Eventually, they just became rotating background. We agreed that if her collection filled a childhood void, then we were happy for her.

Years rolled by. Tammy and I moved away from home, found jobs, and had families of our own. Dad died and Mom moved back to her home-state near her twin and other family. Later, she would move to a retirement home near me in North Carolina.

***

When mom passed away, we sorted through her personal effects to be saved or disposed of. It was then Tammy and I realized she had added one last Crissy to the family. She had, also, purchased a display case where the dolls were congregated, their hair in varying lengths, some with ribbons, none with clothes.

Though we joked about the dolls, we understood Mom had had the last laugh. She left her beloved dolls, all five of them with that same disturbing grin, to her daughters. To my dismay, my sister declined her half of her inheritance, leaving me in total possession.

“Just get rid of them,” my sister said, matter of factly, as she pulled the long tuft of retractable red hair out of the rubber head and slowly rolling it back into place. “We’ll take them to a thrift shop, and donate them if you can’t bear to throw them out.”

I shook my head. I couldn’t get rid of something that had brought Mom so much comfort. I shuddered. But, I couldn’t keep them either.

“Just take two of them,” I begged Tammy, desperate for her to take them off my hands.

“Nope, they’re all yours. Mom liked you best,” she said with a wink and a smirk (very similar to Crissy’s).

I tried to talk my children into taking one for their daughters. My suggestion was met with wide-eyed terror by my daughter, and speculation of how the dolls could be used as Halloween decorations by my son.

I discovered on the internet that the dolls were in demand. They actually had a small value depending on condition. Condition was certainly a plus here. But, sell them? It seemed . . . mercenary.

***

It’s been almost two years now. The dolls still reside in the trunk at the end of the bed. I’ve thought about taking a picture of the macabre quintuplets for posterity, and then, dropping them off at a shop (before the door opens for business). The dolls could be “adopted” by little girls who would love and appreciate them. Yes, that’s what I should do. Unfortunately, nobody would want all five. For sure, the quintuplets would be separated after being together for over forty years. Oh, dear. Was I becoming my mom?

I will think about what to do with the quints tomorrow, or next week, or next year. Maybe – I’ll just leave them to my children.

About this writer

  • Rose Ann Sinay

    Rose Ann Sinay

    Rose Ann Sinay is a freelance writer newly relocated to Connecticut. She continues to write about moments worth remembering, graciously provided by family and friends.

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7 Responses to “Extended Family?”

  1. Tammy says:

    I have to admit that I am laughing while reading this and knowing you still have them. If only I had a Chucky doll to give you!

  2. Linda O'Connell says:

    Five naked baby dolls, oh what a funny story.

  3. Diane says:

    Ok…. I am laughing out loud…it seems I either do that with your stories or I cry…..I am also laughing at Tammy’s comment. As always, thanks for another great story!

    Adoption is in order…make someones day!

  4. Joan Leotta says:

    Great story,

  5. Erika Hoffman says:

    Rose Ann, I think you should take a picture of the dolls and this story and send it to Reminisce. Or maybe a photo of your mom holding the dolls if you have one should be sent. Loved your story.

  6. Britt says:

    wonderful story

  7. Pam Martin says:

    Ro you have nailed it again! I can those darn dolls and the thought that you still have them us hysterical but so you my friend. However, for your own sanity get rid of them!!! Miss you.
    Pam

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