The Puppy Dog Purse


When I was a child, I was obsessed with the song, “How Much Is That Doggy In The Window?” And so when I was four, my parents happily rescued the cutest dog ever, Scruffy. Scruffy was with us for about a year before he ran away and never returned. Living in the country, this was the first of many reoccurring animal heartbreaks.

At Christmastime, my Great Aunt (although she was not truly my aunt. But that is a long story), would gift the children of my family a Christmas present until they reached the age of ten. Once they were ten, they were deemed too old for gifts. Being the oldest of the nieces and nephews by many years meant I reached that dreaded platform first and would watch with envy the other younger children receive their gifts. Whether this is true or not, in my mind, the gift was always the same. A brand new purse in the shape of a puppy dog’s head.

In kindergarten, I would take my purse to school with me. And whilst Scruffy was white and looked like a, well, scruffy sheepdog, my purse was soft and brown.

The thing was, I don’t even remember liking the purse that much.

It did not look like Scruffy.

But I knew it was special.

And so that is why, one day after school in kindergarten, I almost died for it.

My friend, Lizzie, and I were bus kids. And what that would mean, is that we would have to stay later than everyone else in kindergarten to ride the bus an hour and a half home. An hour and a half? We were mountain kids, too, this entailed that we wait to drop everyone in town off first before the bus could make its trek up the hill to our homes.

On the fateful day, I was loaded up with my backpack and my puppy dog purse, waiting in a clamoring line with Lizzie to get on the school bus. It was hot and everyone was pushing. Somehow, probably because I have always been graceful, I was pushed under the bus.

I remember laying under the bus, blood trickling, starting to well out of my knees, and sticking to my nylons. My hands were encrusted and embedded with gravel. I was sprawled there and when I looked up my puppy dog purse was laying beneath one of the bus’s wheels. I could almost reach it. So, because I was five, and because it was not in my head that this could be dangerous, I dragged myself so that I lay between the front tire and the back tire of the bus. And just as I grabbed my puppy dog purse, the bus started.

Yes, the kids had pushed me under the bus and then had gotten on the bus without a backwards glance.

The whole “thrown under the bus” saying has always had a special meaning in my heart. Meaning I never use that term.

I remember a brief moment of panic, but I was still too young to understand the danger I was in.

I was more afraid the bus was going to leave me. I was also overtaken with my first memories of pain as my hands and knees had begun to sting from the injuries that had occurred.

I could hear Lizzie screaming, “Jenni is under the bus! Jenni is under the bus!”

The bus continued to idle but I heard the bus doors open.

And then a white-faced bus driver was peering down at me. I cannot imagine what that woman must have been thinking. I do remember her berating me as she pulled me out from under the cavernous vehicle, but I was crying too hard to hear the words that her brusque mouth was making.

I clutched my puppy dog purse all of the way home.

That was not the worst of it.

Do you know what happens when you bleed into tights and the wound sits there for an hour and a half?

It scabs.

Over the tights.

So, when I got home, I faced a whole new ordeal.

They had to peel the crusted tights off of my bloody knees.

I remember my grandfather very sternly telling me that he had to do this, there was no other way and I just had to be brave.

I probably wasn’t.

I hated tights after that.

I hated the bus.

And I loathed that puppy dog purse.

Rather than blaming the children who had pushed me, or recognizing that the incident was an accident, I put all of the blame for the mishap on that purse. That adorable. Sweet. Fluffy. Deadly. Purse. It was innocent, but so was I. There was no one to blame. No guilty party. But the purse took the fall, literally.

And it, and its subsequent Christmas descendants, were never used again.

Oh Grandma


It has now been two years since my grandmother’s passing. I was not sure that I would be writing a post about her today, but then I pictured my mother on this day. Having woken up with a heart so still and so swollen with anguish, what else could I write about but her?

The very last time I saw my grandmother, I knew it would be the last time. There was something in her aura. Or the air. Or perhaps it was just a foreboding one feels when they are around an elderly relative. Either way, I tried to pepper her with questions I had been wanting to know all of these years. To get answers in the little time that we had together.

And I thought I would retain that conversation forever. I never ever forget a conversation. Where I put the checkbook, yes. A friend’s birthday, sigh. But a conversation is burned forever into my memory. Which makes it all the more tragic and suspicious to admit that my last conversation with my grandmother is becoming fuzzy. Blurring away with tears and time and perhaps grief is smothering its edges to make the pain less prominently sharp.

Whatever the reason, I wanted to recount some of those things we spoke about on that last day. Not all of her words, but I wanted to share the wisdom of some of her responses to me. The ones I have kept inside until now. Slumbering under a blanket of denial…

When I asked her about a particular person and whether she had spoken to that person in a while, she sighed but very strongly stated, “I don’t have time for people like that.” Honestly, this spoke to my heart. After her death that year I reevaluated my life and my own relationships.

My grandmother always ordered dessert at a restaurant. Always. Sometimes before the meal. Dessert was Grandma. Grandma was dessert. And on that last day when she turned it down after lunch, I knew something was wrong. The turned down dessert caused my eyes to widen and my pulse to beat faster. I ordered it anyway and insisted she have a bite. She ate it without her usual gumption. Grandma’s personality was the extras. She was over the top. Or the top. She was the cherry. The whipped cream. The hot fudge. Her turning down dessert felt like the universe had flipped upside down. And I knew in that moment of vanilla sorrow that the pain was just beginning.

But perhaps the hardest thing for me to recall is when she wearily and out of the blue said, “You know, you might feel sorry for me because I am old, but I feel sorry for you. For all of the things you are going to have to go through. For all of the things you will have to see and face and endure.”

I think about what she said in that moment a lot.

A lot.

For in her words was a truth that is rarely spoken.

By the time a person reaches old age, they have lost so much. She, herself, lost her husband while she was fairly young. She lost her oldest son a few years before she passed away. So much was taken away from her. The thought of having to suffer through what she did makes me swallow giant tears of dread and fear in the back of my throat.

Two months later I would experience the loss of her. Adding it to my small dam of loss that one builds around their life’s river trying to fabricate their lake of happiness in their soul. The pain was great, but I know there will be more to come. So very much more pain. Is it something to feel sorry for? That is the question. The dangerous and depressing quicksand of pondering too deeply. Of course it is, but I hope there is light to look forward to, too.

I think back on that last day with my grandmother. Of her words. The heavy sorrowful words of wisdom. And it makes my heart sink with the weight of hopelessness. But then, on the edge of that foggy memory, a ray of sunlight appears. And with it comes the trinkling sound of my grandmother’s quick laughter. It cuts through the clouds of gloom with the lightning crackle of humor.

And I begin to remember one more thing about that day.

The shadow of the memory is so faint that only the outline of it appears in my mind. My husband driving my grandmother and myself through our small town, the car hitting a piece of debris in the road. My husband turning to Grandma and apologetically stating, “Sorry for the bump.”

My grandma quickly chortled one of her witty followups, “Did you say hump or bump?”

To which I blushed and laughed.

Our laughter blurred together filling the car with the bells of joy. When it became quiet again, she mischievously continued, “Just making sure you weren’t making me an offer.”

And we laughed some more.

“Oh Grandma,” I gleefully murmured.

Oh… Grandma.

Babydoll Dress


Free People does not actually call this dress, “babydoll,” however the shape that this is could not be anything else, in my humble little gnome opinion.


I was on the fence about keeping this dress, because I had also gotten the dress in this post and I try, oh how I try, not to be a glutton. But I kept taking it out of the return box and caressing it until finally it felt weird to send back a dress that I had touched so many times. I’m not that kind of girl.


Speaking of baby dolls, I have to admit to being terrified of them (ahem, gnomes being completely different). When I was a child of eight years old, I had a Cabbage Patch Doll I named Mary. I had begged Santa for a Cabbage Patch Doll that year, the ones I had seen on t.v…. With hair. And clothes… And chubby cuteness.


I was rather surprised when I opened up Mary on Christmas day to find a withered up little thing staring at me from the box. She was a premie Cabbage Patch Kid. She was ugly. She was scary. However, she was the only one that I had and so I loved her. I played with her for years, but always in the back of my mind, was sorrow over not having a “real” Cabbage Patch Kid. Always she was not perfect. Regret swallowed her strange little head.


I do not know what happened to Mary. Perhaps this is for the best. Otherwise I would have felt obligated to give her to my own daughter and the generational Mary duty would have continued. In fact, my daughter had no interest in baby dolls. It was not a fad while she was growing up. She did have every single Kelly doll ever made (thanks to an aunt who loved Barbie) which I regret donating many years ago.


There was one doll I purchased for my daughter… It was a cute little baby. A sweet face… Whose body was made from some sort of water vessel. This meant she weighed one trillion pounds. She was dressed in… Wait for this. It is a doozy. She was dressed in an Eeyore suit from Winnie The Pooh and even had the hoodie with donkey ears attached. I do not know what I must have been thinking the day I purchased that doll.


She played with it for a bit… And then it disappeared. I know. It could be anywhere. I am worried I will open up her closet one day to find the Eeyore baby staring at me from the depths of the closet. Its water body having slowly oozed out of the Eeyore suit to form a wretched smell. A gooey film clinging to its body as it stares at me accusingly.




How do I always manage to get so off track?

Do you own any babydoll dresses? Or baby dolls? Or warped Eeyore water babies languishing in your closet plotting your doom? I am hoping I can only answer “yes” to one of those questions.

“I did a bad thing.”


My husband crawled into bed next to me and laid his head on my shoulder. He opened his mouth and instead of sweet words of love pouring from his lips, five scary words came out instead. “I did a bad thing,” he mumbled into my arm with worry.

“What did you do?” I was not too concerned, but my heart fluttered a tiny bit and my stomach did a little flip.

“I ate your all of your reese’s pieces.”

The body spin cycle stopped and I wrung out my emotions by hand.

“Oh. I don’t care. I forgot I bought them.” Then I laughed. I stopped and looked at him.

“It’s not like The Twix Bar.”

“I didn’t eat that Twix bar! Look, I ate your candy and then I told you about it. If I had eaten your Twix bar, I would also have told you about it.”

“Not if you are trying to throw me off your trail.”

“Are you saying I ate your reese’s pieces and then confessed just to convince you that I did not eat your Twix bar sixteen years ago?”

“It is highly suspicious.”

“I didn’t eat your Twix bar!”

“That is exactly what someone who didn’t eat my Twix bar would say.”

The criminal sighed into my arm. His breath smelled of sweet peanut butter… And lies.