Thursday, September 26, 2013

dear Joe

May I introduce you to my dear old friend Joe?
We've known each other since we were children.
In fact, Joe was a Christmas present the year I turned three.

The little boy next door could never be persuaded to play with dolls, but monkeys, well monkeys were OK so Joe got to tag along over hill and dale.
He was in and out and up and down and over and under, just like we were.
He was the constant companion of my childhood.
He wasn't left unchanged by time of course.
His first hair color was red, well, orange really, just like his eyes.
He dressed differently then too, just as you would expect.
Can you squint and imagine him in a blue and white sailor suit?
I barely remember that now.
His legs were striped blue and white, like permanent stockings.
Somehow, I can remember that better.
Perhaps because of the shock of waking one morning to find Joe had aged over night.
His body, his entire body was now a soft gray flannel.
And his hair was tan.
I thought he was a visiting toy, but my mother gently explained the transformation whilst I perched on her knee.
I imagine I was four or five then.
Joe received yet another total makeover the Christmas I was eight.
New skin again, and a wonderful tartan suit.
But best of all, he received a companion.
I was in school day after day then and perhaps my mother felt sorry for old Joe all alone.
That Christmas, the year I turned eight, Joe appeared under the tree clannishly clad in plaid and accompanied by a black haired girl monkey in a matching skirt.
She clutched a banana in one hand.
You know what they say about the way to a man's heart.

My own children didn't play with Joe. I guess I must have kept him packed away.
When toys are played with, they become woven into our very childhood. When they are not played with, they are just things.

I want more than that for my dear old friend.
He's hanging out again with the dolls and I can see that my little granddaughter has kindly carried him out to the living room where he can be part of the action.

He represents all that was good and wonderful about the first decade of my life. He represents my childhood, the joy of make believe, of friendship, of play; a time so rich in memory that I find myself thinking of it often with gratitude. Those memories have sustained me through many an adult dry spell.

Thank you dear Joe.
I know you love me, but I love you more. 

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