The Legend of Lamby by Deb Jennifer

When I was not quite five years old, we had a house fire.  My brother and I were in our grandma’s bedroom watching the Super Friends on Saturday morning.  Our grandmother was out getting her hair done.  There we were on the floor, cheering on Aquaman and Wonder  Woman, our backs propped against the foot of the bed, as the room slowly-slowly filled with smoke.  My grandmother had these funky electric baseboard heaters, and sometimes, they smoked a little and smelled funny when they first came on.  So we kept watching TV, oblivious, like lobsters slowly coming to a boil.  My mom came in to check on us, saw that the smoke seemed to be coming from the bed, frantically shooed us away, and yanked it from the wall.  Flames leapt up.  The bedspread had been against the baseboard heater and had caught on fire.  The bed and wall were engulfed, just like that.  What I remember most was how fast the fire moved.  And how thick the smoke got, how quick.

The fire trucks couldn’t get up our long, narrow driveway so the VFD guys ran hoses.  My brother and I were whisked off to a neighbor’s, coats and boots over our pajamas.  My grandmother was reached at the hairdresser’s and hurried home.  They got the fire out, but my grandmother’s room was destroyed and the entire house had to be gutted because of smoke and water damage.  Everything we owned was gone.

This is supposed to be a story about fire, so I suppose I could tell you about how for years I was terrified of it, sure my house would burn down in the night.  I staged elaborate fire drills in my head, and made sure I always knew where the nearest escape was.  But instead, what I want to tell you about is a little stuffed lamb.

See, I had this favorite stuffed toy, a little white lamb with a pink flower stitched near her ear.  I loved that lamb.  Lamby, I called her.  (And my bear was Teddy… not very original in the naming department, I know…)  Lamby and my other toys were ruined and I never saw them again.  Sure, we got new things.  I got to pick a whole new wardrobe.  And new tulip wallpaper for my bedroom.  But Lamby was gone.

Fast forward six months or so to kindergarten where I met an elfish little girl with blond hair I was drawn to immediately.  Her name was Lynn, and she was destined to become my very best friend from kindergarten through high school.  She was the sister I always secretly longed for, my co-conspirer, my confidante.  But here’s the kicker… the first time I went to her house, she took me up to her bedroom.  And who did I see there on her bed, all cleaned up and white as could be?  Lamby!!!!  I recognized her immediately, little pink flower and all.  I picked her up and sniffed her.  She still smelled like smoke.  It turned out Lynn’s dad was a volunteer fireman and when they were cleaning up after the fire, he took a few of the smoky, waterlogged animals home thinking he’d throw them in the washer, see if they cleaned up well enough for his kids.  Lynn happily gave Lamby back when she heard that I was the kid whose house burned.  It was a miracle!  Well, maybe not a miracle exactly, but my first cosmic coincidence.   I’ve been a big believer in them ever since.

11 Replies to “The Legend of Lamby by Deb Jennifer”

  1. What a great post, Jennifer.

    I’m forever washing and salvaging stuffed favorites for my boys. I’ve tucked away their ‘first favorites’ for when they have kids. I wonder, when they pull them out, if they’ll have a flash of warm remembrance? I hope so.

    P.S. I pulled Promise Not To Tell off my TBR pile last week (Catching Genius is next) and I’m half way through it. What a wonderful story told with lots of dramatic tension that makes it very compelling. Can’t wait to see what happens!

  2. Of course you have Lamby, you HAVE TO have Lamby because I just wiped away a tear over your reunion. There’s a saying/Rule of the Universe, Jennifer, that “Nothing is ever lost” and — from personal experiences — I believe it.

  3. Winston (my dog) had a stuffed lamb named Lamby, too. He probably used it for less wholesome purposes than you used yours for. As a result, it got quite filthy, so I threw it in the washing machine, which got water in the squeaker. One horribly botched squeakerectomy later, Lamby went to the great pet store in the sky. But I just saw a new Lamby in a catalog, so I’m totally ordering it.

  4. I have a dog, Barney, and he’s a black lab. On Sunday I got a puppy, Molly, and she’s a black lab. Molly was on a shelf close to the ground, and what did Molly do when she met her twin? Ripped his ear off. How cute. Thank God for sewing machines.

  5. That was a touching story. I’m so glad everyone in your family was OK that day and that you were finally able to get Lamby back.

  6. WOW, Jennifer – that’s an amazing story! I love it when life does that, I mean, really, what are the odds? You are truly blessed – someone’s looking out for you! 🙂

  7. This is about as sweet a story as I’ve heard. How frightening, how fortuitous, and how touching. Are you still in touch with Lynn, and, yes, I’ll also ask: do you still have Lamby?!

  8. Yes, I’m still in touch with Lynn. Our daughters are close in age and play together now. Very sweet. We wish we lived closer.

    And yes, I still have Lamby. She’s actually packed in a box of childhood treasures.

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