This is a daughter story and also a grandparent story and a story about memory. I think that my story of Stuffed Dog is not unique. We all have our Stuffed Dog stories. What is yours?
Once there was a small stuffed dog,
`probably found somewhere by your father.
A gift given when you were but a child.
The dog stands so straight;
his short spotted coat arranged neatly.
The dog, so silent and unbending,
travels with you.
From adolescence to young adulthood,
from state to state,
from home to home to home.
Stuffed Dog didn’t mind being carried in laundry baskets
under an assortment of misfit toys to his next dusty destination.
Stuffed Dog was always your favorite.
Where you went, there he was,
For years he sat obediently on the beds of your children.
Many dog years.
He was a superhero, with a cape.
Never a snuggle dog;
Then for many years he sat alone
and quietly waited.
Still looking prim and proper,
sitting on the small bed
for your children’s children to hold him,
walk him in animal parades,
a red yarn leash tied sloppily around his neck.
One ear gone forever.
Once again Stuffed Dog is remembered.
Could he be….happy?
One day, still many dusty dog days later,
Stuffed Dog still sat at attention
until a real dog,
spotted white and black
and very curious, as real dogs are,
found him sitting quietly in his laundry basket
waiting for the children to return.
The real dog began to do what real dogs do.
She began to chew;
to rip and to tear,
and the real white and black dog ripped a hole in Stuffed Dog's full belly
and Stuffed Dog bled in ancient straw all over the living room floor.
Off came the other ear.
Old Stuffed Dog looked at you
with eyes now clouded over with age and it asked,
“I have been sitting now for so many years on dusty beds,
under piles of animals
So many hands have held me.
So many children have walked me with leashes made of scraps of yarn.
I have been walked in so many animal parades.
I have been loved for so long.
I am ripped and tired.
It is time to let me go.”
I think I heard Stuffed Dog whisper to me.
Even now, after so many years, it is hard to say goodbye to Stuffed Dog.
While he was here there was still a little bit of a young girl remaining;
a girl with clear eyes
a memory of a smiling father who brought his little daughter a gift
so impossibly long ago.
It is always so hard to say goodbye.
Farewell, Stuffed Dog.