This past weekend, my husband and I made an unplanned trip to western Pennsylvania. A work colleague of my husband’s had died suddenly, and my husband wanted to be present at the viewing and attend the funeral.
So we drove west on Sunday, stayed overnight then returned home on Monday. During the portion of the trip that it was my turn to drive, I was merrily flying along that great original superhighway, the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Since it is such an old road, most places the four lanes are right side-by-side. To keep traffic safe (and separate), the turnpike is lined with jersey walls—those concrete dividers. I hate them because they give you a claustrophobic feeling when you are in the left lane. Add to that the fact that small animals run to the center of the road and then get trapped—well, you get the picture.
So, as I was driving along, I scanned the roadway, and suddenly saw an abandoned teddy bear*. Who deposited it there? Was it inadvertently dropped out the window by a toddler, who didn’t know that was the last she would see of Teddy? Or did a malicious sibling dangle it out the window, taunting a brother or sister, only to lose the grip on Teddy who fell to the road? Who knows?
But it did remind me of a long ago childhood trauma. Like most children, I had a favorite stuffed toy—really a kind of floppy doll. I carried it everywhere. It is even immortalized in this photo where its stuffing was coming out. I am sure my mother (or one of the wonderful missionary women I called “aunties”) stitched it back together.
I have no recall of any name I might have given this doll. But I do know its fate. I lost it. And I even know where I lost it—on one of the trains in Africa. We were going on a family trip—probably for a vacation. We went several times to South Africa, visiting Cape Town or Durban. And the best means of transportation was by rail. The old-fashioned style trains had separate compartments; our family of (then) four would occupy a compartment with seats facing each other. The seats converted into one upper and one lower bed on each side. In the center was a pull down table and also a small sink. Quite efficient—and great fun as a way to travel.
Well, somehow I lost the doll on just such a train trip. I had it when we boarded the train. And when we left the train, the doll was nowhere to be found. Forever lost. Just like the teddy on the turnpike.
I really wasn’t deeply traumatized, but the fact that I can recall this doll, and know how I lost it, suggests some deep imprinting on my child brain.
Anyone else out there who lost a favorite stuffed animal? Hmmmm?? So, tell.
*the photo of the teddy is from a website--I did NOT grab my camera, stop the car in the left lane of the turnpike and take a photo!