“Grandma’s Doll,” Friend, Aug. 2002, 4
Eight-year-old Maggie stretched forward to better talk to her parents in the front seat of the car. A frown tugged at the corners of her mouth. “Mom, do I have to go to Aunt Alice’s house?”
Maggie’s parents had been planning this temple trip for weeks. They had arranged for Maggie to stay with her great-aunt, who lived in the same town as the temple. Aunt Alice was quite old and lived alone.
Mom turned in her seat to ask, “Don’t you want to go to Aunt Alice’s house? She’s very kind and will take good care of you.”
“I know. It’s just that, well, what if there’s nothing to do? Sitting around all day could get really boring. Maybe I should have stayed home and spent the night at Anna’s house.” Anna was Maggie’s best friend.
Mother looked deeply into Maggie’s worried eyes. “It’s true, we could have left you at Anna’s house, but Dad and I wanted this to be a special trip for the whole family. We have been preparing Grandma and Grandpa McCallister’s records for a long time so that we could do their temple work. You never knew Grandma, but you’re like her in many ways. We thought this trip would be a good chance for you to feel close to her.”
Grandma McCallister had passed away when Maggie was only a baby, and Grandpa had died just last summer. Maggie knew that Mom was anxious to have their temple work done so that they could be a part of her family forever. Maggie slumped back in her seat. She knew that this day was important. She just wasn’t sure about spending it with Aunt Alice.
When they stopped in front of a small brick home several hours later, butterflies fluttered around in Maggie’s stomach.
“Grab your bag, sweetie—this is it,” Mom said.
Maggie picked up her backpack and slowly climbed out of the car. Her legs were stiff from the long trip, and she dragged them reluctantly up the front walk.
“Come on, honey. Dad and I have to get going.” Mom stopped at the front door and put her arms around Maggie’s drooping shoulders. “Don’t worry. Everything is going to be just fine. You might even enjoy yourself.” Mom smiled.
It was comforting to see the familiar twinkle in Mom’s eyes. Maggie perked up and smiled back.
Just then the front door opened, and the familiar aroma of chocolate chip cookies met Maggie’s nose.
“Well, look who’s here!” Aunt Alice exclaimed. “Maggie Magpie! I haven’t seen you since you were a baby!”
Maggie raised an eyebrow. “Maggie Magpie?”
“Oh, that’s what we used to call your grandma when she was a girl. Her name is Margaret, too, you know.”
Maggie barely heard her mother’s good-bye as she stepped into the house with Aunt Alice.
“Come and have some cookies while we get reacquainted, Maggie Magpie.”
Maggie looked around as she walked through the front room toward the kitchen. She stopped in her tracks when her eyes came to rest on a tall display cabinet full of fancy porcelain dolls. “Wow! Do you collect dolls?”
“Sure do. Do you like dolls?”
“I do! I have a collection, too. Well, it’s not as big or fancy as yours, but I really like dolls.”
“You know, your Grandma McCallister liked dolls, too. In fact, I may have something of hers that you can take home with you.”
Maggie followed Aunt Alice into the kitchen, wondering what she might have for her. Aunt Alice poured Maggie a glass of milk and set out some cookies. “Help yourself, honey. I’ll be right back.” She climbed a creaky flight of narrow wooden stairs to the attic. A few minutes later, she returned with an old shoe box.
“Just before your grandma died, she gave me this box. She asked me to keep it for you until you were old enough to take care of what’s inside.” A smile filled Aunt Alice’s face. “I think you’re old enough now. Want to see?”
Maggie nodded eagerly.
Aunt Alice took off several rubber bands, then carefully lifted the cardboard lid. Very gently she peeled back layers of faded tissue paper. Maggie leaned forward to see what lay inside. Beneath the folds of paper lay the most beautiful doll Maggie had ever seen. The eyes blinked open in the pale porcelain face as Aunt Alice lifted the doll out of the box. “Do you want to hold it?”
Maggie could barely breathe as she carefully took the doll into her arms and rocked it tenderly.
“Your grandma called her Bessie, or sometimes Miss Bess. She has the same beautiful dark red hair that you have and that your grandmother had.”
As Maggie gently smoothed the pale blue dress and white lace pinafore and patted the shining curly hair, she imagined another little redheaded girl holding this very doll a long time ago. She felt a new love for Grandma and began to believe that maybe she knew her a little bit after all.
An unexpected tear slid down Maggie’s cheek as she looked into Aunt Alice’s beaming face. “Thank you, Aunt Alice. I’ll take good care of her, I promise.”
“I know you will, Maggie Magpie,” Aunt Alice said. “You’re a lot like your grandma, you know.”
Maggie smiled lovingly at Grandma’s doll. She was glad that she was a lot like Grandma. And she was grateful that her parents were at the temple doing Grandma and Grandpa’s temple work. She wanted them all to be a family forever.
“Family history and temple work … build bridges between the generations of our families, bridges to activity in the Church, and bridges to the temple.”
Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander of the Seventy
(Ensign, May 1999, page 85.)