My mom brought some very special things to me on her trip out here this time.
Ethel & some christmas ornaments.
Ethel is a very special, vintage 1920’s doll. She belonged to my Grandmother Ada’s only sister, Ethel, who died sometime in the early 1930’s when she was 14 years old of kidney disease. My Grandmother kept her sister’s doll for many, many years until her death in 2002 when she left “Ethel” to me.
My family lived with my grandparents Clifford & Ada during my preschool years when my Dad was finishing his university education. I have very vivid and fond memories of those years and I remember it as a happy time. I was extremely close to my Grandmother Ada and miss her deeply still. I have memories of my Grandmother getting “Ethel” out of the attic closet once a year to clean her with a soft damp cloth. Ethel was stored in her original box and in her original clothing and I can still remember Grammie chatting to “Ethel” as she cleaned her….”now let’s clean her face….”.
After my grandfather passed away in 1989, Grammie left the farmhouse to move in closer to town. She would visit the farmhouse often (it was not sold, just sat empty) and on one of her visits to the farmhouse, she discovered that the mice had gotten to Ethel. The mice chewed the original box, chewed the original outfit and left mouse droppings all around poor Ethel. Grammie was terribly upset by this, and she showed me the damage when I visited next. Grammie had already thrown away Ethel’s original clothing and box because they were beyond repair. I offered to take Ethel to see if I could find some clothing for her, and Grammie trusted me enough to let me try. At that time, there was no ebay of course, so I went to the local fabric store to secure a doll clothing pattern and some fabric. I decided that Ethel was not a flashy kind of doll, so a simple dress and bonnet would do. The pink outfit that she wears now is that outfit I cobbled up for her from the fabric store and it was sewn by my great aunt from a different side of my family. Ethel still has her original socks & shoes.
I left Ethel behind when I moved because I was too overwhelmed to deal with her. I didn’t want anything to happen to her and I had enough to worry about. (I am ashamed to admit that I hand-carried every photo negative (over 200 films) of the kids to this province in my carry-on luggage because I could not bear the thought of anything happening to my kids’ pictures during the moving process…..strangers pawing all over our stuff…..). And when I go home for the summer (twice now), I am too loaded down with stuff on the way back to have room for Ethel.
I was truly delighted when Mom lifted Ethel out of her suitcase.
I know her story; she and the memories that she embodies are dear to my heart.
She belongs here with me.
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