When I was a little girl, I thought my best friend was beautiful: tall, with dark brown locks and exotic hazel eyes. Her looks contrasted with (what I believed to be) my very ordinary blond hair, blue eyes, and petite stature.
Her grandmother was a very gentle, soft-spoken old woman who wore funny hats, and she adored her granddaughter. (I wanted to be adored like that by someone.) She allowed us to poke around her house and her possessions as only indulgent old grandmothers are wont to do.
One day I espied an elegant glass figurine of a beautiful woman resting atop her grandmother’s dresser. I gazed at it longingly and was told that it was a Royal Doulton. I didn’t know what that meant, so my friend explained that Royal Doulton was a very expensive English china and that this one would be hers one day. I vowed to myself that one day I would have one of my own to admire whenever the fancy struck me.
As a young bride-to-be, I registered for china – “Diana,” by Royal Doulton.
I loved its simple, elegant design, and I had finally achieved my dream of Royal Doulton. Unfortunately, fate intervened and I was forced to sell it after I had been married for a few years when money was tight and debt was not an option. So, once again, I was a Royal Doultonless woman.
Fast forward to the year 2000, when I went on a European vacation. Oh, happy day – England! I dreamed about the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Abbey Road, and – Royal Doulton!
Alas, it was not to be. I came home with a Waterford ballerina (yeah, yeah, Irish crystal).
Move ahead to 2004, and I’m back in London, this time with my parents. My mother had been hearing of my Royal Doulton woes for decades. We took the Tube down to Harrod’s, looked at the directory, and made a bee line for the china section (a veritable museum).
I chose the simplest statuette: An elegant woman wearing a pale yellow dress with a floral tippet draped over her shoulders, the end of which she held in her right hand as she shaded her eyes with her left hand.
The romantic side of me wanted her because of her old-fashioned grace. The practical side of me wanted her because she was small enough to fit in my suitcase.
At supper that evening, my dad discovered my error when he looked at the bottom of the statue. My prize was not a Royal Doulton; she was a Royal Albert! I was crestfallen. I felt cheated. The dream was not a china figurine. The dream was a Royal Doulton figurine!
A few months later, I received a package from my dad and opened it with aplomb to discover an ecru china cup with no handle. It had no decoration save lily petals in bas-relief – simple and elegant. I turned it over to read the bottom: Royal Doulton. I knew why Dale had bought it for me, this forlorn Royal-Doultonless woman. I called him up to thank him. The tone in his voice said more than the words, “Did you see? It’s a Royal Doulton.” Yes, I had seen the name, but more than that, I saw that he loved (adored!) me very much. He has never, ever been my stepfather. He’s been my step-up father.
The following year, when I visited my parents in Colorado, they accompanied me to the local thrift store where Dale had found the Royal Doulton cup. As we perused the trove and found sweaters, kitchenware, and books, Dale hit the jackpot yet again – a saucer with no decoration save a lily in bas-relief. It matched the cup! The pair has been sitting proudly in the center of my dresser ever since.
When I visited London in 2008, I went back to Harrod’s again to get the blasted Royal Doulton figurine. I found one I liked, purchased it without too much agonizing fanfare, and packed it in my suitcase.
What I realized finally was that a Royal Doulton figurine was no longer the dream; I had just refused to let it go. I already had what I wanted – the cup and saucer, the “I love you.” My genuine Royal Doulton figurine – she is just a pretty face. She can’t compete with my cup and saucer.
Happy Father’s Day to the best dad a girl could ever have. You’re better than a Royal Doulton! ❤
I’m just reading this story, two months after you wrote it Stacy, and oh, what a wonderful tale of woes and love! It’s always the small gestures that mean the most to us. ❤
Oh, how sweet, Stacy – I love this story of longing and love. Your step-up Father is the real treasure here – the cup and saucer just symbolize the love. So glad you found your Royal Doulton at last. xo Karen
Yes, I did, indeed – a little later than I had hoped, but after all that waiting, it didn’t matter anyway! xo
What an incredible story! I do believe that certain people and certain things come into our life for a very deep purpose.
Those are treasures for the soul, to guide us through spring, summer, autumn and winter of life.
Literally so many things were still at the attic of our soul during the spring of our lives… too young to fully understand or to know.
Hugs to you,
Wow – that’s beautifully put, Mariette “so many things in the attic of our soul during the spring of our lives – too young to fully understand.” Poetry! xo
Such a moving story, Stacy; I enjoyed every bit of it! Will we see a photo of the cup and saucer one day? That was very insightful when you realized that you no longer dreamed of the figurine, for you had what she represented to you. Lucky girl, to be loved like that. I like your Royal Albert lady, though . . . very delicate in her manner. My Mum collected Royal Albert china, beginning some years after I left home. Hers was the Old Country Roses pattern. Lovely, but a bit overwhelming when it was all put out. All that red and gold . . . My RN sister has most of it now and it’s proudly displayed in a china cabinet. Alexandra is very pretty, too; I love those spring flowers and the watering can . . . ~ Linne
Yes, if you scroll down, Linne, you can see a photo of the cup. It’s simple elegance, simply put. 😉
I know which Royal Albert pattern you talking about – it is really stunning, but a bit too busy for my taste. I do enjoy looking at things of beauty in other people’s homes, though. Sounds as if your sister found the perfect place to display the china. xo
I just realized that I hadn’t uploaded the cup and saucer photo, Linne – it’s up now, though. Thanks for calling attention to my petit faux pas. xo
An amazing story – you’re very lucky to have your “step-up Dad”. I agree with Kathy and you: it’s not the objects, it’s the love. That came home to me very clearly while sifting through our household last summer prior to our house move.
I know I shouldn’t, but I really get attached to my “things.” Everything I own has meaning attached – it is so hard not to become a pack rat! (No more Royal Doultons for me, though – I have enough.) xo
Karen Anspach said:
He has always just been Stacy’s dad to me. What a wonderful story, thank you for sharing. Happy Father’s Day Dale!
He really is the best, isn’t he, Karen? I miss him SO much – it’s time for him to move back down to Louisiana! xo
I am crying a little. What a lovely story. What a wonderful step-up dad to love you so much. The dream is so often more about love than it is about physical objects, isn’t it? sniff, sniff, sniff.
Indeed it is, Kathy. I just don’t know why I have to learn this the hard way. xo
Stacy, I adored reading this sweet post. Your Dad ranks up at the top…a dear man. Thnk you so much for visiting me and leaving your kind comment. I look forward to getting to know you.
I am lucky that he became part of my life, Bonnie. xo