Once upon a long long long time ago, when I was just a little girl, there were no other children living in my neighborhood. I a special bestest friend ever. His name was Joey and he was so special that only I could see him. He said no one else was ready to see him. My family, much to their embarrassment I’m sure, accepted him as a real boy. To me he was real! I have often wondered if he were my twin that never was or my guardian angel.
Joey and I shared many long, fun adventurous days together. We also shared many secrets and had long talks about everything. We played house, paper dolls, dress up and other stuff, even with army men and GI Joe. Since there were no other kids we could play anything anytime with only our ideas and rules.
We went on so many adventures in our big big house and outside. Our adventures were amazing; we went to Africa to hunt elephants, to space and visit the man in the moon or even to the North Pole for tea with Santa Claus. Other times we just sat in the sun blowing dandelion puffs, watching the seeds dance away in the breeze. Or lay on the floor watching dust sparkle in the sunlight streaming through the stain glass windows while we got lost in our far away dreamland. The people down the street had a big weeping willow tree. It had boughs that reached the ground making a tent underneath. Joey thought that was the best place for picnics, reading and more daydreams.
Sometimes we went to the store with mommy. She would hold the car door open while Joey got settled on the back seat then I would scootch in next. At the grocery store she always bought a carrot snack cake for the three of us to share in the car before heading home. The best times were when mommy would take us to the Woolworth lunch counter. I would get a sandwich, french-fries, a pickle and a red or orange drink from the fountain machine. Mommy usually just had a soda or a cup of coffee. Joey always had to have a napkin, silverware and a menu, but all he ever ordered was a glass of water. He was silly and I think his tummy was always full because he raided the kitchen every night when we were all sleeping.
Sometimes if Joey and I were sleepy, mad, scared, sad or just wanted to be alone we had our special spot. It was a teeny weensy little cabinet on the side of the chimney in our living room. It was so tiny I had to curl up into a ball, knees almost to my chest and Joey in my lap. We barely fit in but could shut the door all the way. How we loved that tight, dark, cozy little spot. All safe, warm and the comforting scent of unfinished wood tickling our noses.
My parents and siblings tried many times to replace Joey with dolls and stuffed animals, silly people. One day my brother, Johnny, saw a brown teddy bear at the store and knew it was Joey. When Johnny brought him home I grabbed Joey. Squeezing him tight I said “Joey where have you been? I’ve been looking everywhere all day for you! If Johnny hadn’t found you I would be so lonely and sad. Joey you’ve been a naughty little bear and have to sit in the corner.” After that the bear was Joey and all was as it had been. Only difference was Joey had decided it was time to take a form everyone could see.
Little by little Joey chose to stay home when I went out to play or to the store with Mommy. Sometimes he didn’t even want to play at home. E still wanted to hide in our cabinet, watch the dust in the sunshine or snuggle tightly tucked into bed with me. We still talked quietly sharing books and secrets. By this time a few kids had moved into the neighborhood and I would play with them while Joey waited at home. Then one day Joey just went away. All he left was a tattered old fuzzy stuffed bear. I had grown too old for him and he was lonely. So Joey moved on to live with another lonely child and be their bestest friend.
Once in awhile, even though I’m an old Grandma now, I remember how special Joey is and my heart aches to see him again. Sometimes I still talk to him and know the dandelion seeds in the breeze carry my words to him. Maybe the little boy or girl hearing this story is the lucky one Joey lives with now. If you are, please tell him hello and I still love and miss him bunches. Joey, you will always be a special part of my childhood and remain in my heart forever.