Bronwyn and Otis Lee: Putting God First

Bronwyn and Otis Lee: Putting God First

My youngest daughter Bronwyn has always pushed the envelope, sticking her hairy toe across any line drawn before her. Bronwyn, or “White Breast” was a Welsh heroine in her father’s favorite book, “How Green Was My Valley.” We never told her what her real name meant until much later. We just called her “pure heart” which matches her nature now. Her “pure heart,” however, was coupled with a predilection for stubbornness and extreme sports. Life with the Bronskie was never dull.

When she burst forth from the womb (after performing a continual tap-dance in my abdomen for nine months) her bright red face and Indian mohawk were prophetic. Her colicky warpath made for long nights of rocking and loud days of cajoling. Once we passed babyhood, Roger and I were sure Bronie would settle down. Forget it. She protested any hair-combing or hair-washing the first two years of life. Headbands and hats were our only option.

I don’t blame her for being cross. Nobody could spell or pronounce her name (including her). She was dubbed everything from “Brownie” to “Broadman” (the name of the old Baptist hymnal). Her only consolation came years later when we travelled to Wales and discovered her name was a household word. Instead of Barbie dolls, Welsh little girls had Bronwyn dolls.

Bronwyn had three treasured possessions in her young life:  the first was the “animal blankie”-a multi-colored mini-quilt pock-marked with farm animals and handed down from her older sister, Brianna. One tear-filled afternoon, we jumped in the car, peeled out and frantically drove to El Paso’s Motel 6 to retrieve it-dust bunnies and all.

The second treasured possession was a blue taffeta dress with a built-in jingle bell petticoat.  It never left her stinky body between the ages of three and four without a fist fight.  The third, and by far the greatest, was a bald baby doll named Otis Lee.  Otis appeared as the trophy toy from her three-year-old Christmas bounty.  None of the other gifts mattered.  It was Otis who stole her heart.

Otis had a hard life.  Besides the smelly task of living under Bronwyn’s armpit day and night, Otis had many brushes with death. Becky, our black and white border collie, fancied Otis as a chew-toy.  Besides dragging the plastic heartthrob through dog-poop, several teeth-marks had actually penetrated Otis’ skull.  After major surgery and some duct tape, Otis survived.  We’re not sure whether he had brain damage.  The worst catastrophe of Otis’ and Bronwyn’s lives came when her older sister Brianna had finally taken all of the pestering she could stand from her annoying little sister.  Being the precocious yet sneaky seven-year-old that she was, Brie watched the weather channel to find a rainy night in July.  After dark, she slipped Otis under a very deeply planted rosebush and waited for the mud to bury Otis alive.  Her act was ruthless, pre-meditated dolly murder.

Much to my chagrin, Otis was found.  Bronwyn was in hysterics.  In desperation, I threw Otis in the washer on perma-press.  Although the rubber body parts were slightly deformed, Bronwyn didn’t mind.  Otis slept in her bed for years.  One day she was forced to give up Otis for another.  Otis was exchanged for Richard, the man who captured her heart.  Bronwyn loved Otis, but as long as she held onto him, she could never grow-up and enjoy the man of her dreams.

After all, Richard is washable.

We hold onto many things in this life-journey.  Most of them are made of plastic. However, if by faith we choose to invite Jesus Christ into our lives and receive His gift of eternal life, we are forever transformed. All the playthings of this earth seem to fade when He captures our hearts.  We do not carry Him under our arm, as Bronwyn toted Otis.  We carry Him in our hearts.  And when He draws us with His love, we will never be the same.

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