God’s Poetry in a Doll

You ever have one of those ah-ha moments when you discover something you would never would have had somebody not asked you the right question?

I had one of those moments while answering some questions posed to me about my writing. Somebody had asked me something about MOTHER OF RAIN and in answering that question, I recalled a doll that had been a favorite of mine when I was young. It was a cowgirl doll with a short pixie hair-cut. For years I’d carried that doll with me everywhere I went.

I think I got her for Christmas when I was a first-grader and we were living in Columbus, Georgia. I have this photograph of me holding my doll at Granny Leona’s home in Church Hill, TN.

I have the same haircut as the doll. This photo was taken during our last visit to Granny’s before Daddy took us all to Hawaii, where he was serving with the 25th Infantry Division.

I kept that doll with me through the three years we were in Hawaii and she traveled back to Tennessee with me. She was sitting on my bed when we got word of Daddy’s death. And she traveled with me when Mama up and moved us back to Georgia. Everywhere I went that doll went with me.

Until my sixth-grade year when I finally gave her up. I still remember the day I handed her over to my beloved Thelma as a gift. It was Thelma’s last day with us and I wanted to give her something. Thelma had cared for us in the aftermath of Daddy’s death. She was the one who taught me how to iron a crease in a pair of slacks, how to skillet fry chicken, how to make a hospital corner, a skill that came in handy these past few months caring for Mama.

Thelma, in her wisdom, told me to keep the doll. She knew I’d have use for the doll again one day. Besides, she told me, she only had one child, a boy, what would she do with a cowgirl doll?

But I had no other gift to give Thelma so I gave her the most precious thing I owned. That’s how much Thelma meant to me. She hugged me and loved on me as she had done from day one, and accepted my gift with the love it was offered.

I have thought about that doll from time to time, wished I’d still had her, just for nostalgia sakes. Or to pass along to my own granddaughter, one day, should God ever see fit to bless me with one.

But it was while answering a question about my latest book, the novel coming up, that something came to me that I had never thought about in all these years.

Why I had a cowgirl doll to begin with.

I mean, I’m hardly the cowgirl type. I’m much more the Madame Alexander type.

Perhaps, I thought, the reason Mama had given me a cowgirl doll was because I used to watch Roy Rogers with Brother John every Saturday morning.

Could the cowgirl doll be a replica of Dale Evans, Roy’s wife and TV partner?

So I did something it had never occurred to me to do before — I googled Dale Evans Doll.

And guess what came up?

My doll!

I felt like I’d run into an old friend after a long absence.

She is, in fact, Gail of the Golden West.

Which is really poetic if you consider that I ended up out west and still have friends who refer to me as Sister Goldenhair.

It’s a simple, maybe even a silly thing, really, but it was such a delight to know more about the history of the doll that meant so much to me for so long.

What about you? What was your go-to for companionship when you were a child?

Have you had any ah-ha moments lately?

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