Jo Bridges

I was fourth born in a family of five children. My mother and father divorced when I was eight. The heartbreak of having my mother move away from the family was so deep I can feel the pain to this day. It has made me who I am today. That pain...

I was a tiny little thing. So pretty and fun. My father called me "Sunshine" because, he said, "When Jo comes into the room sunshine follows."

But I was not feeling sunshiny at all those days. No mother to guide and encourage me.

One day there was a knock at the back porch screen door. My name was called out and I went to see. There stood an old neighbor woman holding an aged brown box. She handed me the box and said, "I see your sadness and I want you to have this".

I opened that precious box and pulled back the fragile tissues. There was a wonderful doll, a composition baby doll! My neighbor's childhood doll. She gave her to me!!

My heart danced with the joy of it!

My brothers found her and made diabolical plans only boys understand. My next memory of that doll was seeing her tossed from the roof of our 2-story house, dashed to pieces on the ground.

She was gone. My doll. My gift...
...But not. I remember that doll and the face of that "old" neighbor woman.

I work with children now and have for over 35 years! My heart is with the children. Many times I see a little girl who seems as though the sunshine has left her eyes. I choose a doll from my overpopulated doll collection and give that doll to the child. I tell the story of my neighbor and her gift.

And then I remind the child...when she is grown to "pass it on!"

Somehow, every time I give a doll least one more comes to takes its place and wait in my home for its new mommy.

It works that way you know...pass it on!