Saturday, December 3, 2011

Bilbo Dudley

For Friday, December 2, 2011

One of my favorite childhood stories was The Velveteen Rabbit. The story of a boy’s beloved stuffed animal who miraculously comes to life was one I thought of most evenings as I fell asleep. A dozen friends including a red poodle named Spooky and a little white kitten named Princess whose back had a patch of missing fur, were tucked in carefully alongside of me as my Mom and Dad kissed me goodnight. My Dad would ask, “Are you sure you have enough room to sleep?” and I’d giggle and insist that I did.

The idea of having my stuffed animals becoming real was one that remained with me. Oh, I knew it was only a fantasy but I would feel sad whenever I, as a teenager no longer playing with stuffed animals, tucked away another one in a box set in my bedroom closet. To be a forgotten toy, like the Velveteen Rabbit whose little boy grew to love other toys once Scarlet Fever prevented him from playing with his favorite toy any longer, seemed a great tragedy to my wild and colorful imagination. Even when I became a parent, I remember whispering to a few of my rescued old friends that I’d found them a new playmate. I smiled with great joy as “Mary Ann” my three foot doll, renamed “Abby” by Sydney, was once again dressed in her pink snowsuit and dragged outside to play in the snow.

The only stuffed animal that I held onto for myself is a little brown dog with floppy ears that I was given when I was fifteen years old. It was the first gift I ever received from Eric when we were high school sweethearts. The tiny dog had a little tag that named him Dudley, but I added the name Bilbo to that as Eric had been cast in the leading role of the musical The Hobbit. Over the years Bilbo Dudley found his way around my bedroom, sometimes sitting on a shelf, other times finding himself on my jewelry chest, and to this day, nearly 29 years later, he’s still around. In fact, he is now resting up high away from my puppy Ziva, lest she decide to make him her chew toy. “You should write a childrens’ story about him”, my Mom once suggested to me years ago. I’ve always thought of doing that, for Bilbo Dudley went on many adventures over the years. I used to tuck him into my suitcase whenever I traveled and I once even left him behind in a hotel. Luckily, the cleaning lady found him and per my request, the hotel mailed him back to me.

It would be wonderful to pen that story, to have it illustrated, and to see a book published. It is one of my many dreams. As I look at the worn coat that little dog wears today I know that like the Velveteen Rabbit, he has grown neglected, taking a back seat to the three children I’ve nurtured for the last twenty years, but I know that someday, Bilbo Dudley will indeed come to life...I will make him real. He’ll be immortalized even, at least on the printed page.

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