Lamby smelled glorious. Safe and comfortable. It was 1964 and I was three.
My family and I took the sleeper train from Connecticut on the harbor to the piney forests of Wisconsin. I brought Lamby, my well-worn greyish-yuck-colored stuffed animal.
No longer the spry little white lamb with green eyes and a perfect blue bow around it’s neck, I’d loved the once-shapely, unmistakable lamb into raggedy lumps of slush-colored fabric that made living easier.
It was when we were bustling to grab all our luggage to get off the train in Wisconsin that I realized Lamby was missing. The porter, identifiable by his cap, white jacket, and white gloves, helped us search. We undressed the fold-down beds, looked in the loo and all around the tiny room but Lamby was nowhere.
I remember the hard vacancy that felt like pressure in my chest.
Later that afternoon we arrived at my grandmother’s wooden cottage. Inside were a few musty bedrooms, French doors, kitchen, sitting room and dining table, lots of old magazines, games, books, a fireplace, and a porch that looked out on a lake.
We were the first family of the season to visit, so the air in the place was still dry and stale from being shut down for late autumn and winter. In the sitting room, golden shards of dust sparkled in the afternoon sunlight streaming through through the window. Fairy dust. And on the couch was a two-foot long red stuffed animal fish made of felt with large red scales, each sewn on with a sequin to give it a shimmery, fishy look.
My father came over to me as I stared at the fish holding out a small swatch of grey, mouse-colored fabric.
“Here,” he said, “Here’s what was left in the springs of the sleeper bed,” he said. His tenderness told me he understood this was not enough, but was all we had.
I lifted the piece of cloth to my nose and inhaled. Lamby! My mom sewed the small fragment of Lamby onto the cheek of the felt fish. And I don’t remember who, maybe Mom but maybe my dad, maybe even me, but someone came up with the name Fammy for this new hybrid Fish-Lamb friend of mine. Though Fammy certainly was not Lamby, he carried me and I carried him through the next several years.