Snooky, my first and dearest doll, my companion from before I could remember, was made in the days before plastic evolved. Her head was molded of hard rubber while her body and limbs were a thin rubber skin stuffed with cotton kapok.
By the time I was seven, my mother had bandaged, numerous worn places on her arms and body to contain the leaking stuffing. I understood that she had become fragile so by the time I started school I’d taken to leaving her in her doll bed most of the time.
Then one day the stuffing began to leak out where it couldn’t be patched, at the join of her soft body and her firmer head.
It was kind of that Santa Claus thing. My head had just begun to accept that Snooky was an inanimate toy. But my heart knew that she was my best and constant companion.
Mother and I had a gentle conversation during which I allowed that I understood that Snooky was beyond repair; I even understood that it was time for her to go. Mother offered me the option of participating in her disposal or of taking care of it herself while I was at school. She really let me choose.
My head and my heart conferred and agreed that she had to go but that it would be too awful to incinerate her myself. I asked mother to do it. And the next day I came home to find a brand new modern and very desirable Betsy-Wetsy wearing Snooky’s nightgown and resting there in Snooky’s bed.
I remember being sad, but also completely satisfied that mother’s and my contract had been honored. The new doll was one I had wanted. But although I played with it I never gave it a special name.
My mother got it right that time.