Every Easter, right up to the age of 19 when I moved out on my own, my mother would make me a beautiful Easter basket with only the very finest chocolates and buy me a stuffed animal. The last stuffed animal she bought me was a 5’ tall, bright orange giraffe. I took that giraffe to every single home I lived in up to the age of 42, where it would always take up an entire corner of my bedroom – something my boyfriends over the years must have wondered about and possibly a reason why I’m still single.
It wasn’t that I was so enamored with the large, fuzzy beast. It certainly never went with any of my décor. Truth be told, I wish she’d chosen something more traditional – and smaller. A simple furry bunny would have been more than adequate and had some symbolic connection to the holiday. I always wondered what her thinking was behind such an odd choice or mine in carting it around all those years. I do recall the thought of throwing it away filled me with guilt. Of course, as a Catholic, however lapsed, just about anything could fill me with guilt, but still such a choice would not have been unreasonable as time went by.
I think now that it may have been my mother’s way of saying “Remember that my love for you is enormous,” as I was about to start my own life and leave hers. I wonder what that must have been like for her, living alone for the first time at the age 51, her main purpose – raising me – now over. She died only three years later. Each Easter, I still smile at the memory of walking into the living room that morning so many decades ago and seeing my mother sitting on the couch in her robe, a cup of coffee in her hand, and an expression of excitement on her face as she anticipated my reaction to her surprise.
When I finally decided that the giraffe really did need to move on, I carefully sewed up the torn seams where pet cats had used its legs as scratching posts, and donated it to a thrift shop that benefited the local animal shelter where I felt it had the best chance of finding a good home. It’s been several years now and I’d like to believe that on another Easter morning, some other child received this huge expression of their own mother’s love… however odd they may have found it at the time.