This elephant figurine was a gift for my fortieth birthday from my late husband Ken, the first gift he ever gave me. He’s hand painted calico, about two inches tall, cream colored with gold braid, trimmed in green leaves and topped with red tapestries.
He surprised me with a family party, even though we weren’t a family yet. We were fortunate that his children and mine were so accepting of one another.
It seems odd to me now, after all the years he’s been with me, that I never gave my elephant a name. I suppose it’s never too late, so I’m going to name him now. He will be called Calico. Imagine having to wait until you’re thirty nine years old to get a name!
When Ken gave me this gift, he said “an elephant never forgets,” and if that’s true, this little guy has a head full of memories. He moved from “my house” to “our house” after Ken and I were married.
We each owned a home, both comfortable, and big enough for visiting family when the need arose, but we found we were neither one completely comfortable in the “other house.” We sold both of them and bought a brand new place of our own, one that had never been lived in by anyone. It was ours in every sense of the word. What fun we had, like playing house.
This was in the mid 1970s, just the beginning of the home computer phenomenon, and Ken was an early geek, developing his own systems and writing his own programming languages. He needed a place for all of the gear necessary, so that was the first thing decided. He’d take a guest room and make it his workroom.
The rest of the house pretty much fell into place as we moved our furniture in and found the best places for our treasures. The master bath became a tropical forest of beautiful plants, more gifts from my beloved. Calico had his own tiny jungle, and happily put down roots there.
Those were incredibly happy years, spent discovering California in our motor home, and spending long vacations at beach campgrounds, where we would arrange to meet friends, coordinating our reservations. Calico was there, in his special place near the front so he could see where we were going.
About eleven years after we were married we decided it would be easier to just move to the beach, rather than loading up the motor home each summer. We bought a lovely home about five miles from the beach, again brand new and never lived in. We had the fun of making it our own all over again, and Calico moved to a place of importance, on the corner of the organ in the family room.
Eight years later Ken was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Our lives were turned upside down, and took on a pattern of doctor visits, radiation, chemotherapy and hospitalizations. When Ken was in the hospital, I was there with him. We never spent a night apart in all nineteen wonderful years we had together. Calico was always there, in my bag.
My pretty little elephant still accompanies me wherever I go away from home. He’s been my constant and faithful companion for so long that I’m afraid I had begun to take him for granted, sitting here on my desk.
After writing this, and looking back on all we’ve been through together, I realize I must give this tiny treasure more respect. He’s moving front and center in the family room right now.