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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Toys in the Basement

If someone came into our modest home, he or she would notice right away the old raggedy dog toys and bones scattered throughout the house. They lie along the walls—an old purple plush toy, its stuffing long gone (Saylor), a newer stuffed polar bear, a rawhide bone. Walking through the dining room, you would see an old hedgehog underneath a picture window, half stuffed, and a pink pig ridiculously limp from lack of stuffing. In the kitchen, underneath the table, is a multi-colored plush ball that squeaks, still in pretty good shape. Rope toys lie half-way hidden underneath chairs. Singer has found them all in a basket in our basement, where we kept Saylor’s toys. In later years, she would focus briefly on one toy. Most of her toys lay in the pink basket in the basement, forgotten.

Singer has found her aunt’s former possessions and dragged them all over the house. I’m reminded of a child who finds her mother’s old clothes in an attic to play with, perhaps leaving them scattered throughout the house for weeks at a time. Singer has been enjoying these old treasures, romping with them throughout the house and then just leaving them for reminders. I wonder what she discerns from their scent, if she is taking away from them a bit of Saylor? Does she get images of Saylor, who is her aunt on her father’s side? Does she wonder about her? I like to think she does.

It’s interesting to see these toys, played with by Saylor when she was one and two years old, then slowly abandoned in the basement as she aged. Near the end of her life, she did still love a pink dinosaur that had different sounds than the typical squeaker. We brought it to her while she was at the hospital and snuggled it under her paw. It is wrapped up still, I cannot bear to look at it yet. One of Saylor’s favorite toys of all time was a grey plush elephant, with long, distorted legs. Each foot had a different sound in it, and she loved chewing on each of the feet to hear their distinct sounds, like playing a musical instrument. Eventually the elephant became destuffed, its head torn apart like most of her toys, but she still loved it for the musical feet. I couldn’t bear to throw it away, although Singer has not yet brought it out. She probably realizes it’s not worth much now, except for my memories of Saylor.

These toys are quickly brushed aside when I vacuum, only to be brought out again by Singer. But I don’t mind. It’s comforting to see these icons of playfulness, joy and healthy vigor in our house once again. They are symbols of puppyhood and I’m also reminded of Nathaniel’s babyhood, when his toys were scattered throughout the house, and he would busy himself looking at each one, investigating and thinking about his world through his toys.

I imagine Singer is seeking answers from her new world as she sniffs, then grabs each toy, prancing with it throughout the house. I kiss her on her warm head, and think about her as a young puppy, faint memories still lingering in her scent.


Marianne said...

That made me sad. I found a bowl that belonged to my dog Girl probably ten years after she died under the sink in the basement and it made me sick with missing her. Those memories are so wonderful but so hard to take. I hope Singer does get some message from Saylor from the toys and I imagine she must.

Singer's Mom said...

Now I'm sad for you thinking about your dog, Girl. (What a charming name: I call Singer "Girly" all the time, as I did Saylor:) A few days ago, I was at Target and I passed by the pet aisle and glimpsed a red plastic dog bowl which triggered my memories of Marty, my first Irish setter from the 1960s. Remember when dog bowls used to be plastic? His was red, of course!