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365 Days

When I was a tiny child, a year was a very Very VERY VERY long time. In January, it would seem like Christmas would never come around again. Same with Halloween.  A year was just an infathomable amount of time for my immature brain. I knew that each day passed, and month by month, eventually we would get there. I knew this to be true. But it was just an eternity. I can’t even describe it. While so many other memories have faded, that one is still relatively clear in my memory.  The endlessness of time stretching out before me.

And from things my son says, I believe this is how he experiences time as well.

Here is an ugly picture that perfectly illustrates the topic of my post.

Here is an ugly picture that perfectly illustrates the topic of my post.

Maybe time moved so slow for me because as a child I spent a lot of time being bored. “I’m bored” came out of my mouth probably every hour of the day. I was bored in school. I was bored at home. I was bored in the car. I was bored at the grocery store. I was bored visiting my Gramma.

I look back now, and all that “bored” time just seems like such a waste. I could have been writing the books then that I don’t have time to write now. I could have hugged my Gramma a few more times while she was still here.

When I was in middle school and high school, time went faster than as a child, but was still very slow. And while the three months of summer vacation always ended way too soon, each individual day was slow and boring and painful to sit through. Sixteen hours of television a day helped a little. But even the Brady Bunch and The Dukes of Hazard can get boring after a while. Just like this post…

Here is a beautiful picture that perfectly illustrates the topic of my post.

Here is a beautiful picture that perfectly illustrates the topic of my post.

Now…Well, MY GOD.

I had my son yesterday. I went to sleep, and he is approaching his fourth birthday. Some of that is because my husband and I mentally block out a lot of the anxiety we had around his medical issues and surgeries. But even when I think about my previous employer, I CANNOT BELIEVE that I was there for over 12 years. (Especially because I didn’t really enjoy it, always wanted to do something more creative, and told myself if I was still there after 5 years, someone should shoot me. And now history repeats itself. I am always trying to do the responsible thing. I never learn. Enough of my whining…) I can’t even fathom how many books I added into their computer system. One that has now been powered down for good. I once calculated that in the year 2007, I allocated 15 million units of calendars as part of a three person team. (Yes, that is straight off my resume.)

I get up now, I rush through my day, doing everything as quickly as I can, sometimes accurately and efficiently, usually not. At the end of the day, I realize that it is actually Friday. I lost the whole week. I am so tired that I go to sleep. I get up, eat breakfast, and somehow it is Sunday night already. I have to turn around and do it all again. My life is racing by me. I don’t have one second to sit down and appreciate anything.

I am afraid tomorrow that I might wake up dead. I am not kidding. People in my family do not have a very good shelf life. Sure, my mom survived terminal cancer, but she has the longevity of the Eatons making up half her genes. They only make up a quarter of mine.

I just need to hurry, to finish as much as I can before I expire like a bottle of Diet Rite at a gas station.* But, the more that I hurry, the more behind I get, the faster time flies. I just wish a had a stop watch, so that I could pause everything so that I could enjoy what I have while I have it. And I need to book that trip to Las Vegas, and Hawaii.  Because someday, I will not be here to do it.

* No one buys Diet Rite, and all diet pop has a shorter shelf life to begin with because of the artificial sweeteners.

Barfey

Barfey. Other kids have a teddy bear. I have Barfey.

Old Barfey in foreground.


He started off as a little white stuffed dog with brown ears from the Hallmark store in the mall, made by R. Dakin. My mom said she named him after one of the dogs in the Family Circus cartoon strip. My mom bought him for me so long ago that I can’t remember. Barfey was just always there, for as long as I can remember.

I loved him so much he became tattered and dirty. And of course my mom, being the woman she is, resolved this by buying me a replacement Barfey–AND THROWING OUT THE ORIGINAL. She snuffed out a young stuffed animal’s life, just as it was beginning. I was so young that I didn’t know enough to protest. And while the second Barfey was the same dog made by the same company from the same store in the same mall, this one had a brown body and white ears! Leave it to my mom to not even bother to color match.

Barfey was my favorite stuffed animal. I slept with him every night. If we went on a trip, he went with us.

Here if my VHS copy of The Velveteen Rabbit, Hanna-Barbara 1985


There used to be a show on Saturday mornings called ABC Weekend Special. They showed family cartoons and movies. One of my favorites was a cartoon of The Velveteen Rabbit, based on the book by Margery Williams, from 1985, made by Hanna-Barbara. (One of my other favorites was a mini-series called Cougar–I actually managed to find that on DVD!) It always made me think of Barfey. That maybe he loved me as much as I loved him. That maybe he too was on a quest to be real, as was The Velveteen Rabbit.

The Velveteen Rabbit, Hanna-Barbara 1985
[In the nursery closet]
Rocking Horse: Real isn’t how you’re made. It is a thing that happens to you. Love makes you real. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become real. Once you are real, you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always. You can’t be unreal again.
Bunny-Rabbit: Oh, I want very much to be real.

I also imagined that the stress that Barfey went through as I slept with him at night and tossed and turned was probably similar to the torture that The Velveteen Rabbit endured as well.

The Velveteen Rabbit, Hanna-Barbara 1985
[In Robert’s bed]
Bunny-Rabbit: Look out, you’re flattening me.
I can hardly breath.
Ouch, I’m not a football.
Easy now, don’t move. Ooo-ooo.

When I was in fourth grade, I got the Chicken Pox. I was scared because I didn’t really know what that meant. (And they proved to be quite uncomfortable.) I clutched Barfey tightly for comfort during this uncertain time, as my mom called her nurse friend for information. Something occurred to me while she was on the phone, and it scared me more than being sick. Thinking back to The Velveteen Rabbit and the rabbit’s fate after Robert’s sickness, I asked my mom if Barfey was going to have to be burned since I was holding him and I was sick. She laughed at me and told me “no”. I was relieved. And pissed that she would find my question amusing.

As the years past, Barfey got shabbier and shabbier. He was made with ground nut shells. This helped him have more weight and stay in bed at night better than other stuffed animals. But by now his nut shells had turned into nut dust. His eyebrows looked ready to fall off anytime. And my, how his nose dangled from his cute brown muzzle! So, I followed the precedent that had already been set–I bought a replacement Barfey. This one had a yellow body and brown ears. (It was as close as I could find to original Barfey’s color scheme.) My mom’s first impulse is to throw things out the second she no longer has a use for them. My instinct is to keep everything. I kept both Barfeys. From here on out, they would be known as:

All the Barfeys from my scrapbook


Original Barfey = 1st Barfey (no longer with us)
Old Barfey = 2nd Barfey
New Barfey = 3rd Barfey

But New Barfey was not an adequate replacement. Not only because he lacked memories, but also nutshells. He was young and bounced out of bed too easily. New Barfey always struck me more as a stuffed animal, rather than the “real” aura that Old Barfey had. You looked into Old Barfey’s eyes, and he talked to you. Or, at least, to me.

Once I moved out on my own, I developed a fear (remember, I love to worry) of losing my Barfeys, such as in a fire or tornado or volcanic eruption. When I discovered Ebay, I found people who had Barfeys to sell. They were easier to locate when I discovered that his Dakin birth name was “Drooper”. (What a bad name!) I even ordered a few use Barfeys to have as spares. But they are not the same. There experiences were with other children. They are packed away in a drawer upstairs, while my Barfeys have a revered position of honor in my bedroom, on a high shelf, well out of reach of dogs and toddlers. Although, I did finally get a baby “Drooper” that I always wanted and my mother would never buy me. Yes, the design was so popular they even made mini ones.

Barfey is so popular, he was on a greeting card (see far left). Gibson Greetings, Inc.


At the same time I was trying to find a way to keep Barfey with me forever, I was also trying to figure out what tattoo I could get that I would never get tired of. (Do you see where this is going?) So, shortly after my 30th birthday, I had Barfey tattooed on my ankle. I wanted him to look furry and cartoony. I think it turned out wonderful.

My Barfey tattoo


As I continued to age, I felt bad that Barfey had no children in his life anymore. My green-haired friend’s niece, who was fond of me and I of her, gave me a friendship necklace. I put it on Old Barfey, to keep him connected to the wonderful childhood spirit. But, alas, she has now grown to adulthood herself.

The Velveteen Rabbit, Hanna-Barbara 1985
Robert: [to Nanny] He isn’t a toy. He’s real.
Bunny-Rabbit: I’m real. I’m real!

I have never outgrown stuffed animals (that will be a future post). I still find comfort in stroking Old Barfey’s nappy fur and feeling his nose gently rock back and forth. And he probably looks a fright to anyone but me. But I have given him so much loving, that to me, he is REAL. Like The Velveteen Rabbit.

The Velveteen Rabbit, Hanna-Barbara 1985
[By the incinerator]
Nursery Magic Fairy: I watch over all the toys who are worn out from too much loving. I will take you away and make you real.
Bunny-Rabbit: But I am real.
Nursery Magic Fairy: You were real only to the boy. Now you shall be real to everyone.

Fun Trivia Fact: Barfey co-starred in the 1978 movie Long Journey Back with Stephanie Zimbalist.


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