I started to write about that stuffed toy tiger, for it had a story attached to it (seems like most of my possessions have stories attached to them and this is why it is so hard for me to declutter), when I realized that it deserved a post of its own! So, this is Tiger's Story:
I don't remember the exact events of the day I acquired Tiger, but this is the story of that day as my mother told me. According to my mother, for my fifth birthday, my father and she took me shopping at a store called Chands. I don't remember if my mother had said anything to me before going to the shop, but, knowing her, she probably told me not to ask for anything!
But, once in the shop, my father had said to me, "Baby, choose anything you want"! LOL! How could I resist such an invitation? I had made a bee-line to this stuffed toy tiger that was probably the biggest toy in the store! It was in a stretched out reclining position, with the head held up and measured about 3 feet long and about 1 foot high at the head. It had an excelsior-filled body with tawny fake fur with black stripes on the top and a creamy-white belly, a pink embroidered nose and green eyes that glowed in the dark. It had a noise-maker inside so that when you pressed down on its stomach, it growled. It cost 125 rupees, which, at the time, was A LOT of money! In comparison, a gold necklace with clusters of small rubies cost Rs. 135! (I don't know how much that would have been in US dollars back then, but, in 1973, when we left Sri Lanka, 8 rupees equaled $1; today, 152 Rs. equal $1).
|Notation in my Baby Book about the Tiger|
My mother had tried to interest me in a smaller toy tiger, a doll, a different toy, something less expensive, but I was adamant. Father had said to choose whatever I wanted and I had chosen! Mother said I hugged that toy tiger and wouldn't let go. Father bought it for me. (Was I spoilt? I'll let you decide!)
My mother took me to a studio to have a picture taken of me seated on the tiger!
|My Tiger and I|
I remember that dress - it was coral pink with lace butterflies linked with lace around the skirt and the neckline. Mother sewed the dress; I don't know who made the lace, but she probably bought it.
Tiger was loved. It was my most cherished toy. It was my confidante. Its sawdust body absorbed my tears because I would hug it and cry into it whenever I was sad. It had long whiskers that I "trimmed". One green eye fell off and was glued back on. A mouse nibbled its tail and Mother patched it.
When it was time to dispose of our possessions, I gave away most of my clothes and many treasures, including my beloved collection of books and my 3 foot high walkie-talkie doll my mother had bought for me when I was 6 or 7 (it too had a story: my parents had given it to me, pretending it was a gift from my uncle who had returned from a trip abroad - I don't know why they did that, but maybe I was told he'll bring me a doll if I was good? But I knew it wasn't from him the moment my mother told me to thank him for the doll and I did and uncle was quite confused, asking what doll and my mother prompted him with a "Why, the doll you brought back from your visit abroad"; I gave the doll to my stepfather's dental technician whose baby daughter had been diagnosed with cancer and wasn't expected to live; he had asked if he could buy the doll for her).
But I couldn't give away my tiger. So, I asked my cousin to keep it for me and she did.
When I went back for the first time in 1979, Tiger looked a bit dingy and no longer growled, but I wanted to bring it back with me. Various members of the family tried to discourage me from bringing it back; they told me I would have a hard time with Customs at the airport, that they would cut into it to see if there were any gems or other smuggled items. I cried (yes, even if I was 23 at the time!) I said, in that case, I will bury my tiger that my father had given me, just as I had buried Father. I was at my aunt's house at the time and she couldn't bear to see me cry. She said something to her husband who told me not to cry and told off the rest of the family. Together, we wrapped Tiger in clear plastic and I was allowed to bring it as my second piece of checked luggage without any hassles at the Customs.
I brought Tiger home and shampooed him to remove some of the dirt. He had pride of place at the foot of my bed, again. Over the years, the fur on the top of his head got loved off, the tips of his ears got torn, the pink embroidered nose frayed, one or two stitches in his seams gave way and he leaked sawdust every time he was moved, and, I don't know if you noticed, but just like the Velveteen Rabbit, Tiger became Real and went from being "it" to "he". He moved with me when I moved into my house. My daughter grew up knowing who Tiger was. The bed in the guest room became his room. It seemed to me that he had begun to have a quizzical look on his face. He looked old and worn out, he no longer held his head up proudly, but I would still pet him on the head at times and his eyes still glowed at night.
One day, however, I knew it was time for Tiger to go. I was a 50+ year old woman, at the time, with a stuffed toy tiger and it seemed slightly ridiculous. I let go of Tiger and I cried.
I am grateful for:
- an indulgent father
- my mother's record keeping
- mother having my photograph taken with my tiger
- memories of my much loved toy
- stories to share!
Another fascinating story. You may no longer have the tiger but you do have some wonderful memories and that photograph is beautiful. Mine is a small (thankfully) panda and it sits on Lily's bed. XReplyDelete
Thank you, Jules. I am glad I have that photograph of Tiger when he was new and looking his best. :) That is a very special panda that you have, too.Delete
This is a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it. It brought back memories of a large picture in my Grandmothers house which I loved. When she died, it proved impossible to keep. I was 20 and I wept. My parents bought me a tiny copy which I hung in my student room, and I still have. But it has been in a box for a few years, I'm in my 60s, perhaps it should go...ReplyDelete
Thank you, Angela. Maybe you can bring that picture out of storage and hang it somewhere so you can enjoy it, again? I have gone through several decluttering sessions and what I have now are things that have survived previous sessions. Very, very difficult to let go of them.Delete
What a lovely story Bless. In the photo Tiger looks as though he has a proper expression on his face and he was indeed a very big tiger! Spoilt? No. Loved? Definitely.ReplyDelete
I had a panda when I was little - they must have been popular, having read Jule's comment :) but he got lost when we moved house which we did regularly when I was little. I can still remember him now. Funny how the little things stick with us isn't it. xx
Thank you, Suzanne. Sorry to hear you lost your panda. Were you very upset to have lost it? Hopefully, your panda was found by some other little child and continued to be loved.
What a wonderful story, Bless. Thanks for sharing. I'm not sure that I would have been able to resist the tiger either--especially its glowing eyes. However, I'm pretty sure that my father wouldn't have gotten it for me and he would have never said pick out anything you want. When you are the third out of four kids, those kinds of sayings don't come up very often. I'm glad your father was able to indulge you because he died not that many years after that. What a great memory he gave you.ReplyDelete
The tiger may be gone, but you have a wonderful picture to remember him by.
Thank you, Live and Learn. My father was a most indulgent parent, according to family members, and I was the youngest of his 6 children, the baby to be petted and spoilt! I was also the baby he hadn't wanted because he was afraid my mother would mistreat her step-children if she had a child of her own. But I know he loved me after I arrived. :)Delete
Thanks for sharing your beautiful photo. I don't expect you would get the tiger thru customs today. I understand you crying because of the emotional attachment to the gift from your father. Glad you got it thru and enjoyed and finally gave it up. Most of the things I have a problem letting go I have the emotional attachment.ReplyDelete
You are welcome, Sandy. Yes, I don't think he'd have made it through customs, today! It is hard to let go of things that have a sentimental value, isn't it?Delete
I love the story of Tiger and I think he was worth all the money as you truly loved and appreciated him for years. I am familiar with "The Velveteen Rabbit" and understand how Tiger also became "real". The photo is lovely, your mother must have been a talented seamstress to sew such a beautiful dress!ReplyDelete
Thank you, Bushlady. Yes, Tiger was loved and kept for a long time! Almost 50 years, to be honest. My mother was a very good seamstress and she loved to dress me in pretty clothes. There is even a newspaper cutting of me, aged 3, modelling an outfit she had sewn. She hated that I didn't much care for clothes or dressing up, as I got older.Delete
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I enjoyed your story of the tiger and the picture of you and the tiger. The dress is lovely.ReplyDelete
It's very interesting to hear that you are from Sri Lanka. The lady my daughter helped care for was from there, and when she got worse, they took her back there. My daughter's job was over, but the family invited her to come visit Sri Lanka. She may go someday, just not right now.
Wow! It is a small world, isn't it? I am sorry your daughter's job had to end, though, because the lady returned to Sri Lanka. Will your daughter be looking for another job? If so, I hope she finds one without any difficulty.Delete
Yes, she is job-hunting. She wants to take some more classes at the local community college, so needs a part-time job. Taking care of the lady was getting to be too much towards the end--it had turned into a situation where the woman needed care 24/7 and my daughter was getting very little sleep, so it's just as well. She could not have kept up the level of care that was needed for very long. She was getting worn out. Plus, she is young and has no medical training, so the situation was getting beyond her. So, I'm proud of her for finishing up well, and glad the family recognized the need and made other arrangements.Delete
Sounds like it was the best solution to the situation. Hope your daughter finds exactly the right job for her needs. Sometimes, the campus might have a part-time job for her (my daughter juggled 3 part-time on-campus jobs during undergrad). Good luck to her with her classes. What will she be studying?Delete
I don't have any such stories to share with you. I don't remember any special toy or possession, and there are scarcely any pictures of my childhood. I envy you your memories of Tiger. Such a great story. And so wonderful of your mother to have kept physical records of those memories.ReplyDelete
Susan, sometimes I think that it is better not to have memories of special toys and possessions, because then, it is easier to let go of them! I have an album full of pictures from my childhood and a baby book full of notes, including a few loose pages tucked into it; it seems my mother kept a month-by-month record for perhaps the first couple of years of my life. I only have about 4 of those pages now, and they don't have the year written down, but in one she notes that I am now 1 year and 7 months, so I can guess the year. I just wish I had kept similar notes for my daughter; I had a baby book for her, but I didn't keep it up.Delete
I loved reading that story, Bless. That stuffed tiger obviously meant a lot to you and so it was money well-spent by a loving dad!ReplyDelete
When I was born, I was given (by my godfather, I think?) a stuffed lamb, which I kept for many years. I'm pretty sure I have it around somewhere here, as I reminded myself reading your very touching story, but I can't think of where it would be? Maybe I dreamed that I brought it here and it actually was in the suitcase that was lost forever when I first moved to this country.
My daughter had a favorite doll when she was a toddler and she eventually overgrew it and one day asked me to put it in the donation box (back when she was perhaps 8). Instead of doing that I put the doll away in a closet and didn't tell her I had kept the doll until last year. The doll "creeps her out" but she was super excited that I had kept it. I did make her promise not to throw it away or donate it, though, and to give it back to me if she ever decided she didn't want it again. Because, eventually, she'll want a reminder of her childhood.
My boys weren't attached to their toys in the same way and didn't keep anything. I take that back, my Oldest still has his first Nintendo Gameboy and, as of last year, still played the Pokemon game that it came with. He was 5 when I got it for him and he's now 23! Youngest Son is almost 16 and still sleeps with all his stuffed animals on his bed. I've culled them (with his help) through the years but he's been adamant about keeping those. I think it's sweet :)
Nathalie, I hope you find your stuffed lamb! Maybe one day, when you are decluttering, you'll come across it.Delete
Wise of you to keep your daughter's doll for her. Later, when she's much older, she can make that decision if she wanted to continue to keep it or not. I, too, think it's sweet your youngest son is keeping his stuffed animals. :)