Every kid needs a sidekick when they are young. Somebody to be the buffer between them and the world. Someone to tell their secrets to. My sidekick was Billy. I don't know at what age Billy came into my life...maybe when I was three or four years old...but he remained a steadfast confidant to all my hopes and dreams until I was well into my teenage years.
I can remember one Fall when I was about six or so when every day my mother would go into her bedroom and all you could hear was the whirring sound of her old treadle sewing machine. Sometimes I was allowed to watch her as she put together my new school clothes. But when that door was closed, it mean secrets were happening in that room and no amount of begging would get my mother to tell me what she was doing.
It wasn't until Christmas that year when I found out. She found a small citrus crate and covered it with the old sticky contact paper people used to line their pantry shelves with. It was white with small flowers on it and magically changed that old wooden crate into a lovely baby's bed. Then she spent hours sewing and stuffing the mattress, pillow, and sheets to go with it. She must have spirited Billy away from me in my sleep so she could measure him because that Christmas he also had a new wardrobe of baby clothes. I spent many a happy hour putting that doll to sleep and reading him stories.
But life for Billy wasn't all fun and games. Even the life of a baby doll can be harsh. One day while I was playing with him outside, the neighbor's dog took an instant liking to Billy and wanted him for himself. A tug-o-war ensued with one of poor Billy's jointed legs being torn from his body. Taking his prize, the neighbor's dog ran off while I sat on the porch steps crying over the loss of a plastic limb. Then I did the only logical thing a six year old could do. I didn't want my poor friend to go through life with only one leg so I promptly pulled off the other leg!
For the rest of Billy's existence in my life he seemed quite content to get around by bouncing on his butt. You see, it didn't matter to me that Billy was "handicapped". He still knew how to keep my secrets and that meant the world to me.
Years later, I returned to my old home after both my parents died and I was named executor of their small estate. Tucked away in the back corner of the attic was a box and inside, wrapped in an old blanket was Billy. I was amazed my mother had kept him but then I'm sure she realized how much he'd meant to me all those years ago. Maybe it was just her way of keeping HER "baby" close to her long after I had left home...