Paper Dolls

Happy Birthday Ms. Diana Ross!

“You can’t just sit there and wait for people to give you that golden dream. You’ve got to get out there and make it happen for yourself.” – Diana Ross

As a child, Diana Ross could do no wrong in my eyes. She was beautiful, graceful, glamorous, and was a super star. To me, mother was an every woman version of Ms. Ross. My mom was thin, graceful, stylish and beautiful. On days she was suppose to visit, I would take forever looking for the perfect outfit. I wanted to match her coolness, grace, and style. As always, I made sure (as much as a 5 year old could) my hair was done, bangs popping, knee socks even, dress perfect.

Diana Ross

I don’t remember waiting or ever being let down, if she ever missed an announced visit, I don’t recall; all I knew pure joy when she came. She would arrive looking like a Soul Train dancer and I would walk hand and hand with her, looking up to her thinking how lucky I was and looking around to see if any of my failed saw me walking with my mother as we left my grandparent’s home. It wasn’t until years later I would be able to see past her facade and have insight to what was brewing past them eyes and tight smile.

On this day, she had a micro mini dress, an Afro that would compete with Angela Davis. That day, she gave me Holly Hobbie paper doll book. She had borrowed a friend’s truck and when I climbed in, there was a loft of bread next to my new book, which meant we were going to feed the ducks. I never remember our conversations, but I just knew I was happy and proud. I wanted to be just like my mom. Our days together were always too short, but even then I knew home was with my grandparents.

Holly Hobbie

I got home and would spend hours with my paper doll. Carefully punching out all the outfits and creating new ones with Grams. One day I would go from paper dolls to Barbie dolls, but until then my paper dolls were my babies and I handled them with care. Family members would add to my collections, Grams would reinforce them with cardboard, stretching their life expectancy well past what they were intended.

Writing these stories I realize I might be romanizing these memories a tad bit, especially as I’m writing them my mother and I are estranged. While recalling my past this isn’t lost on me, but at the core, through it all, I know I was loved by a village that included my mother.

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