Saturday, April 4, 2009

Barbies and a Love Note

We went out to dinner last night (to Burrata Bistro, of course!) with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. Their daughter, Andrea, is the one who got married to Mike Cunningham in August of 2007, and who is now expecting their first grandchild. We are so excited.

When Katie was a little girl, my sister-in-law, Cheri, gave her some Barbie dolls; we added to her collection over the years, with new dolls and Barbie clothes, so Katie had quite a few of them. Katie was a girl who loved Barbies (and later, to my horror, Bratz dolls). I did not enjoy playing with dolls when I was young. I loved my stuffed animals much more than dolls, and Barbie did absolutely nothing for me. All of those tiny little pieces; the clothes that never seemed to fit; the velcro that didn't close when you dressed her, and the arms that wouldn't bend, making changing her clothes so difficult. It was frustrating to me, and (since I was a tomboy, and not into clothes, hair or makeup) not very interesting. But Katie loved her Barbies, and even dictated a story or two that featured Barbie, when she was too small to write.

When I learned that our niece Andrea was expecting a baby, I thought it would be good to pass the Barbie dolls back to her side of the family. The problem is that I had to go to Katie's room and start going through her things to get them. I am not ready to clear out Katie's things; I'm not. But the Barbies' day had come, so I went to work on them.

I went to Katie's window seat, which has two cupboards under it; in each cupboard, there is a drawer that slides all of the way out. Those drawers had some of Barbie's things in them. I also found a plastic bin that had Barbie shoes and clothes in it. So I started to put the things in a bag for Cheri.

I came across a purse...and then the memories started to roll. After we found out that Katie was going to die, there were about two weeks when she could still walk, before her legs became paralyzed. On one of those days, she packed a purse full of Barbie and Bratz dolls, and I drove her to her friend Colleen's house (down the street). She had so much fun with Colleen that she stayed past the time for her next dose of medicines, so I drove back down the street, administered the meds, and left her to play for a while longer. I was so happy that they were having fun together; I didn't want to spoil it!

Yesterday, I found that purse, still filled with dolls that Katie had dressed with her own hands, and enjoyed playing with, during the last month of her life. Did I want to give those away? Could I do it? What would I do with them if I kept them? Would I ever play with another little girl, doing my best to dress & play make-believe with these Barbies?

I got kind of sad at that point, and decided to keep a few of them for sentimental reasons, and give the rest to Cheri. The funny thing is, I really don't like Barbies, and my dislike of them is what got me through giving most of them away! I thought, NAH! These things are a PAIN! Let them go. So I did let most of them go, but I kept a few to savor, because they are things that Katie enjoyed, played with, and handled.

The high point of the process was that I found a love note that a boy had written to Katie, hidden in the bin with the Barbie items.
Here is the note:

Also written on the outside of it were the words, "Don't show this letter to anyone," and to my knowledge, she didn't. In the spirit of her discretion, I have covered up the name of the boy who wrote it.
It makes me smile to remember that she was a girl who could inspire such devotion, before she had even reached the 6th grade. He wasn't the first- or the last- to fall for her; there was one boy who stole a diamond & ruby necklace from his mom, & gave it to Katie! (I found it in my washing machine, where it had fallen out of Katie's pocket. I returned it, of course. That boy is known as "the jewel thief" in our family folklore.) We knew that Katie had...IT.


Kay said...

If it makes you feel any better, I can't stand Barbies either. In my mind they are always 'nekkid barbies'. Because that's how I'd always see them when other girls had them! LOL

Both my kids were into stuffed animals, so Barbie wasn't front and center.

I know it's hard to give away things. I have done it little by little, as I've been ready, over the course of time. When you're ready, you'll know. And then sometimes it's even a little sweet, just like finding that cute little note! : )

Busy Bee Suz said...

First of all you cracked me up with your dislike for barbie...for your reasons....unbendable arms....bad velcro. I know you are funny...without even trying!!! That fills my heart to no end.....
Katie's love for the barbies is sweet...she would want you to share them with someone who will appreciate them. (even if her arms don't bend properly :))

that note is so precious. She already had the boys swooning over her....such an angel.

hugs, suz36+

Busy Bee Suz said...

Oh, as I was finishing that, the darn cat walked on the keyboard and hit enter...
hence the suz36+

now, she is knocking my cell phone off the you want another cat????

Anna Davies said...

Thank you for sharing that note! So sweet and honest and I have to say that for me—a single 26-year-old girl who's had her share of dating disasters (great for writing material, but a little wearing) this was such a fun reminder of how love is supposed to be (funny—I actually JUST blogged about the love lessons I learned from watching campers the other day for Redbook—here's the (very long) link:;_ylt=As22.jlHy8MJ_Og1b3a6M65abqU5

Anyway, THANK YOU for sharing that and I have to say the anonymous boy was one lucky guy—and good for Katie for letting him know how she felt!

Anna (Jiffy)

Mary said...

I don't like Barbies one bit, for all the same reasons and more, but there's no way I'd be able to part with all of them either. And I love the note -- what a sweet reward for your kind gesture.

Anonymous said...

What a task - but I'm glad it brought rewards beyond the obvious one of potential joy at seeing Andrea's child play with them.

That note - so touching. Thanks for sharing - Irene x

Nyree said...

Wow, what a great entry. The decision to give away items of such a cherished loved one can be so difficult. I'm glad you kept what you wanted and gave the rest away. I would have done the same and I'm yet another non-barbie person too...

Anonymous said...

Ooh, I have to admit - I LOVE BARBIE! I played with them for hours with the girls on my block. My mom would buy me special handmade Barbie clothes from a cute shop in town - parkas, etc. My grandmother in NC would send Barbie clothes out of scraps she made from her own dresses she sewed - I still have some of them. Having two daughters (times two birthdays and Christmases per year) who also loved Barbie, we ended up with OVER 100 by the time they outgrew them! Crazy! We gave most away, but I am saving some for my granddaughters some day. Which brings me to the reason for this post - I am so glad you saved some of Katie's Barbies - your future granddaughter(s) will love something to play with at your house - and they will mean so much being that they were Katie's. Bonnie Hunt said on her show that Ken could come visit Barbie at her Dream House, but he could never stay the night...cracked me up.

Hugs from Alaska! L

Maggie said...

Oh boy, Katie was a girl after my own heart! I loved Barbie, I would play for hours and hours...a gene that has thankfully passed on to my Maddie. She spends hours in her room playing barbies and she has a ton of them! I couldnt wait until she turned three (the box appropriate age) so I could give them to her! I agree about the clothes...complete pain in the you know what... Katie was so generous, I'm sure she would have loved the idea of someone so special enjoying her Barbies! Though without a doubt it was painful for you. You are such a sweet person Karen, hugs to you.

Smileygirl said...

That letter from her admirer is sooo sweet! Thank you for sharing on here.

p.s. I thought Suz was announcing her bra size with the 36+! How fun would that be to sign off every comment with that information.

Hugs to you...

Laura 32+

Clippy Mat said...

what a sweet and innocent keepsake from a precious time in her life. so glad you found it.

ChiTown Girl said...

It's been a while since I've stopped by, so I've been catching up on posts. This one was awesome! The note is just so sweet, it brought tears to my eyes. I'm with you - I was NEVER a Barbie girl!