29. She Knew

29. She Knew

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Merry Christmas!

She Knew

We should all have one person who knows how to bless us despite the evidence. Grandmother was that person to me.

~Phyllis Theroux

The house was filled with people: my father-in-law, my husband’s sisters and their spouses, our nieces and nephews. The tree with its colorful decorations was surrounded by piles of presents. We had enjoyed a delicious Christmas dinner and now it was time for the gift exchange. My father-in-law was busy handing out the gifts. Rachel, our fourteen-month-old daughter, sat on my lap, excited by all the bright wrappings, bows and activity. Gifts were being unwrapped, paper was flying, and laughter filled the room.

My father-in-law handed me a gift. “For Rachel from her grandma” he said to me. I quietly took the gift and looked at my husband Marvin with a puzzled expression. It had been almost three years since his mother had passed away. Rachel, with our help, tore the paper off the big box. Inside the box was a beautiful blond curly-haired doll with blue eyes. She wore a pink gingham dress with a white apron. In her arms she held a baby doll that wore a matching pink romper. Marvin removed the doll from the box for Rachel. As we admired the doll, we noticed a knob on the back of the doll. I carefully turned the knob. The doll started to sway back and forth, the motion causing her to rock the baby doll in her arms. A lullaby accompanied the movement. Rachel looked at the doll with wide eyes and reached her arms out to take it.

I was still puzzled. When my mother-in-law passed away, Marvin and I had been married for eight years. Those years were filled with infertility treatments, adoption agency interviews and paperwork. At the time it had seemed that we were no closer to having a baby to call our own than we had ever been.

Now almost three years later we had our precious daughter. I wondered about the story behind the gift of the doll. Thinking of my mother-in-law’s love for shopping I thought that perhaps she had bought the doll and stored it away for one of her other granddaughters. After all, she had already had twelve granddaughters among her twenty grandchildren. Rachel’s grandpa must have found the doll in the back of a closet and selected it for her.

As the Christmas celebration continued, Marvin’s sister Barbara shared with me that she had been shopping with her mother when the doll was bought. Barbara had asked her mother whom she was buying the doll for. Barbara was surprised when Mom replied that it was for Marvin and Donna’s daughter. “But Mom” she said, “Donna and Marvin don’t have a daughter, and even if they have a baby it could be a boy.” Mom insisted on the purchase and Barbara knew that it was better not to argue with her mom.

Later Luella, another of my husband’s sisters, told me her story. One day she had been helping her mom clean out a closet. Finding the doll, she had asked her mother whom the doll was intended for. Again the reply was that the doll was for Marvin and Donna’s daughter. Luella, not wanting to press the issue, carefully put the doll back in the closet for safekeeping. I now understood that this doll was for Rachel, a special doll picked out for her, before she was born, before we even knew if she was ever to be.

Once home I thought about putting the doll away, safe from little hands, a keepsake for her to have when she was older. But then I decided that it was more important for Rachel to have the doll now. Over the years, the white apron tore, the doll’s hair was messed up and her leg even fell off. In time I came to realize that the real gift was my mother-in-law’s faith, her belief that one day her son Marvin and his wife Donna would have a daughter to love and raise. Even if Grandma was not there to share in the joy, her future granddaughter would have a precious gift from her grandmother.

~Donna Welk Goering

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