from Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
by Virginia Lee Burton
I named my favorite doll Rosebud. Her face was beautiful—-rosy cheeks, a perpetual smile and blue eyes that closed when she lay down. She wore a filmy pink dress that came down to her pudgy knees. And she wore underpants, too. Her hair was bent in the shape of a handle, perfect for hauling her around.
Even though Mary Anne was real, and helped Mike Mulligan do real things like dig holes for basements and especially town halls, Rosebud was as real as I needed her to be. I know I was as proud of her as Mike was of Mary Anne.
After many years of togetherness, Rosebud started showing her age. Her head was getting pretty loose on her neck. The fiber of her body was starting to separate from the plastic of her head. I think because she always agreed or disagreed by nodding or shaking it.
When it became clear that Rosebud’s life (head) was literally hanging by a thread, my grandmother came to the rescue. She told me she knew someone at a doll hospital who could fix Rosebud up, good as new. I was so gullible. (I kinda still am.) I trusted Rosebud to my grandmother’s care.
Two weeks went by and Rosebud was still at the hospital. I asked and asked for her. Finally, I think my grandmother gave up hoping I’d forget about her and she returned Rosebud, not good as new, but same as she was. The hospital couldn’t help after all.
Part of me wanted to keep Rosebud, but I knew deep down that I had outlived her. I found an old shoe box and carefully tucked Rosebud in with tissue paper and covered her up. I got my brother to dig a hole in the backyard where we buried our fish and turtles.
A little part of me grew up that day. I learned that I didn’t need to look at Rosebud and hold her to love her. I know she loved me back.