We were on our way to the movies when Jon saw the giant stuffed sloth in the window of the gift shop. “I haven’t bought a gift for my granddaughter in a while” he said, “maybe I’ll get her a stuffed animal.”
The giant sloth was $500, so we went to the back of the store where the smaller stuffed animals are.
“Oh look at the chicken!” I said excitedly, handing Jon the a stuffed hen. I tend to like the more unusual stuffed animals that seem not to be so unusual anymore. (Yesterday we gave Madeline at The Mansion a stuffed porcupine as a Bingo prize).
We looked no further and when we got outside the store, Jon took the chicken out of the bag and handed it to me. ” It’s for you” he said, “I bought it for you.”
But there was something different in the way he was looking at it.
I brought the hen to the car, took it out of the bag and put it on the console between the front seats, the place where usually Bud sits.
After the movie, when we got back in the car, Jon picked up the hen and held it in his lap. “That chicken is yours, ” I said to him, “it was never Robin’s or mine, you love that hen.” He just smiled, clutching the stuffed animal.
I packed the stuffed hen in our overnight bag when we went to Brattleboro for my Birthday. Now she sits on the headboard on Jon’s side of the bed. A stuffed Octopus, that Jon got for me, sits on the headboard on my side of the bed.
Jon loves to buy stuffed animals for anyone he can think of, his granddaughter Robin, me, the people who live at The Mansion.
But I never thought to buy him one. I never imagined he’d want one.
Just yesterday I saw a video about a gay couple who, 28 years ago “adopted” a doll and started taking them where ever they went. They treat the doll like a real person, dressing him in designer clothes and taking him to restaurants and on vacations.
They’re not delusional, they know he’s a doll, but they describe the three of them as a “regular New York City family.”
When Jon gave Ellen, who lives at The Mansion, a life-like baby doll, she asked for a basinet to put her in. “I know she’s not real” Ellen said, “but I’m afraid she might roll off the bed”
Jon is a nurturer. It’s a part of him as much as his writing is.
He loves to cook for me and give me things he thinks I want and need. He cares for our animals in a way that I don’t. He’s not just loving, but thoughtful about what they really need to live safe and happy lives. He loved taking care of his daughter when she was a kid, bringing her to school, shopping for her and cooking meals.
I’m not really sure how the stuffed chicken fits into all of that. What need it’s filling or why it makes him smile to have it.
But I do feel like the kid inside Jon emerges a little when he’s holding that stuffed hen. It’s the happy kid, who can love a stuffed chicken, even though he knows it’s not real.