I think of her as a real person. But she is not. Real people get older, and look older, no matter how much they may try to deny the passage of time. This old girl has been with me all my life. She is now 96.
When my mother was six she was given this beautiful doll. She called it Beverley and it became her constant companion. When I arrived, my mother named me after the doll. So as a little girl I called her Baby Doll; perhaps it was too confusing for my young mind to deal with the existence of two Beverleys.
Baby Doll looks like a three-month-old baby, albeit a pale pink celluloid model. Chubby body, legs and arms; a beautiful face with twinkling eyes; and a soft smile. No sign of telltale wrinkles. Her clothes are not the latest fashion, but at her age that is unimportant. What a life she has had. Just after she arrived, my mother with her parents, two brothers and seven sisters left their home in Tasmania to settle in Victoria. Mum was the youngest child and the older children were looking to find employment.
But times were tough for the family. World War I was not long over and the Depression years lay ahead, but the family survived. So did Baby Doll.
I first knew her when I was about three. She had been living with my grandparents.
My parents and I lived in Sydney for a few years after my birth. My mum and I waved Dad off as he left on the Queen Mary, then a troop ship, for the war in the Middle East.
We came back to Melbourne to live with my grandparents.
Baby Doll became my constant companion. Afternoon teas at the table and chairs that Grandpa had made — she became the centre of attention, and so did I.
She was there through all the despair of the war years. The ration books, the family dramas, the daily grind of making ends meet. None of these problems were known to Baby Doll at the time, of course.
Then one day the front door bell rang. I rushed to the door, closely followed by Nanna. A man handed an envelope to Nanna. Aunties gathered around.
The screaming and wailing that followed is embedded in my brain.
The telegram informed the family that the younger son, my uncle Tassie, had been killed in the war. Mum rushed to hug me. I rushed to hug Baby Doll.
Baby Doll is a special member of our family as she regally sits on a chair waiting to be part of the next generation. What extraordinary changes we have both seen as we have journeyed on together.
welcomes submissions to This Life. To be considered for publication, the work must be original and between 450 and 500 words. Submissions may be edited for clarity. Send emails to