Julie Kelly

Earlier this year I wrote my story "Together Again" of my mother passing away, and losing my beloved Furga doll when my stepmother re-did my room, and threw away my toys. This is really a combination of that theme ...

To say my stepmother and I did not get along is an understatement. I felt like she tried to undermine me in every way, and further enrich the lives of her two children. Finally I moved out, ASAP.

Many years passed, we kids are grown now, and have kids of our own. The family is all civil but I don't feel real love or trust in our get togethers. I am trying to forgive all past occurrences, move on wanting to trust, forgive, and love my entire family, real, and step, but is just behooves me as to how to do this?

My stepmother's attitude seems to be all work - no play, serious all the time, negative most of the time, and simply unforgiving. This makes it very hard to get close.

Well, with the finding of my doll from my birth mother on eBay, I began a doll collection that becomes a great source of joy, and healing for me but a source of confusion, and frustration to the rest of the family who sees it as frivolous and wasteful monetarily, and time wise. Still I try often to draw them into my world, and find a common ground of understanding to work with. I decided in my heart that I will not give up. I will do all I can to help us become a close family - somehow.

It seems my stepmother is the key. Can I band-aid the past wounds, and show I have forgiven? Perhaps it will be the surgery we all need to heal this torn family.

After much thought I hit a brainstorm. Surely my stepmother was a child at one time, and surely she loved "dolls or a doll." So I began my research carefully drawing out little bits about her childhood, sorting through the memories she divulged, bit by bit, piece by piece, until a picture emerged of an ugly duckling little girl who also lost a parent at a young age. A child that was expected to go to college, help out at home, and work forty hours a week too. An older sister of four that had a lot of responsibility, and a lot of burdens at an age when most teens are socializing, going to football games, driving to the malt shop, etc.

Finally one day, a break through from her childhood memories, as she was looking at one of my dolls, I gently asked, "What doll did you play with, who was your friend?" Her eyes got misty with a far away look, the lines in her face became relaxed, and she said, "She was the prettiest doll I had ever seen," this was her look as she remembered her childhood friend, Mary Hoyer.

The hunt was on....

Secretly I searched for six months, buying here and there, sewing, refurbishing. When I was done it was a week from her birthday. I had been able to put together a wonderful amount of Mary Hoyer collectibles, dolls, and clothing.

I got a blonde Mary and a brunette in very good condition. I found the original Mary Hoyer doll case at the flea market also in pretty good condition. I cleaned and polished it up, went to the engravers, and had them engrave Mary Hoyer on a brushed gold plaque, and attach it to the front of the case.

I found several original Mary Hoyer patterns and wall papered the inside of the case with them since the inside lining paper was stained, and really the only thing I could not clean up. Then I found a person selling an old small picture of Mary Hoyer herself holding one of her favorite dolls, made a small gold frame, and secured it to the case under the plaque.

I bought three original tagged Mary Hoyer gowns, some accessories, and found a women who was knitting the Mary Hoyer outfits from the original patterns so I got matching gray and pink angora skating outfits for the "girls," matching bathing suits, and cover ups. I even found them each a pair of vintage ice skates.

Then it was time to add my own handiwork, hand stitching one red, and one blue matching felt alpine dresses with cut felt appliqué flowers, white blouses, and matching hats. My last addition before the unveiling was a late find on eBay of a poodle skirt with Mary embroidered on it. It arrived in the nick of time.

I put one doll on each side pocket made for just that (they fit like a glove), then tied them with the silk ribbons attached to the case just for that reason. I hung up all the little dresses, and gowns in the hanging area, put all the accessories and shoes in the pull out drawer. Now everything was polished and beautiful, ready to go to the party.

Well, I was a little afraid and very excited, for my work had taken many hours of searching, work, love and, of course, more than a few dollars too. Could I be in store for a grand rejection?

I waited until all the gifts were done before bringing in my rather large gift. All eyes were on it. First I gave her my simple hand made card. It said, "Let me reacquaint you with old friends." She unwrapped it slowly with a hint of suspicion in her eyes but I was not ready for what happened next. Total shocked surprise, and tears, real tears "OF JOY". I have never, and probably will never see that look on her face again but it must be the look that a mother gives to its brand new baby, so full of tenderness, and awe.

She gingerly stroked the gowns, touched the skates, and slid open the drawer. She took out the blonde Mary Hoyer, and said, "I remember you," and wept, not openly sobbing but inside so all we could see were the tears streaking down her cheeks. Years of trying to be strong, and hiding the emotions were melting away, and with it, the years of sadness left her face.

I got that glimpse of the child, the one before her dad died, and her life became a life of work, and worry. She looked at me through her teary eyes, and no words came out, silently she whispered, "thank you," and I went over, and gave her a hug. I received what I feel is the very first real hug she ever gave me. Oh there was the "Hello it's Christmas" hugs, and the "goodbye see you next year" hugs, etc., but this one felt real, and there is a difference.

I see Mary Hoyer when ever I visit. The box sits open in a place where she can be viewed daily. I think when no one is there she takes them out, and hopefully plays and pretends a little.

We all need a little bit of child in us to give us the innocence, and joy of life that age, responsibility, and stress take away all too soon.

I would like to say life is perfect for us after that but we are still working at our relationships, yet something broke that day, something that had been a barrier went crashing down, and a new closeness is building every day. I was right that my stepmother was the key in unlocking this door, my stepsisters have also unlocked the doors of their hearts. Now my children have cousins that they get to play with and be with, and I have sisters - and it's wonderful!

It may be too late, and too much to call her mother, but it is never to late to call her FRIEND.