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SEPTEMBER 24, 2012 7:51AM

I Spent My Inheritance on Beanie Babies

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There are dozens and dozens of Beanie Babies piled up in the corner of my daughter's bedroom. She tells me to add them to the yard sale I've been putting off for months. One day I will haul all the odd, no longer useful pieces of our lives down to the front lawn. 

And now, I see I will add most of the Beanie Babies as well. She kept one or two because,  You made up such good stories to go with them, Mom. She never knew the real story of the Beanie Babies until many years later... 

Beanie Babies were all the rage in the '90's. They were the hottest thing to collect and everyone was collecting them. 

Our neighborhood toy store received a new shipment every few days and people lined up outside the door. No one waited until they were unpacked. The box was placed on the floor like a dog bowl as grown women pawed through it. Once I bumped knees with a woman and looked up to see an NBC News anchor on the floor with the rest of us. 

I don't even remember the appeal of these small stuffed creatures, but all the kids wanted them. There were even books explaining which ones would be worth the most money one day.

I was counting on selling the Princess Diana and the 2000 Commemorative one for my daughter's college tuition.

Beanie Babies fizzled out eventually. But not before I had spent a small fortune on them.

That was the year my mother died. When I married my husband seven years earlier she never spoke to me again.

 If you marry a black man I will never speak to you again. 

 She kept her word.

 It was strange to learn that I was included in her will. It seemed as though it was an afterthought. As if she hadn't expected to give it.  I certainly hadn't expected to receive it.

 I set out to spend every penny of that money on my daughter. On things I thought a good grandmother would buy for her beloved granddaughter.

My mother had never acknowledged my daughter's existence. So I did what any mother in need of a good therapist would do. I used the money to buy Beanie Babies. Lots of them. Too many to count. 

Because a good grandmother would have bought these things.

I was crazy with grief and anger. It was one thing to disown me but to not acknowledge my child was more than I could bear.

I dealt with the loss, the grief, and especially the anger by purchasing every Beanie Baby that company produced.

My daughter had them all. They were stuffed in bags in her closet. We discovered that the "Princess Diana" and  "2000 Commemorative" ones were not going to pay for a Happy Meal at McDonalds let alone college tuition.

Once my daughter even asked why she had so many of them.

 Because your mother is crazed with grief and the only sane solution is to collect Beanie Babies.  Silly girl.

It was a sad time. I could not wrap my mind around a grandmother who would not be a grandmother. I could not wrap my mind around this beautiful child being rejected by someone who never met her.

I stormed that toy store on a daily basis. I sat on the floor rummaging through the just opened boxes, searching for the newest ones. It became a compulsion of enormous proportions.

I was not just buying Beanie Babies. I was buying love. 

Here's love from your grandmother,  I would think as the cash register rung up each purchase.

What my daughter didn't have, she didn't miss. I felt it all for her. I cried the tears and screamed in the pillow and bought the damn Beanie Babies.

I wanted her to have it all. The doting grandma, the loving extended family. People who loved her madly besides her dad and me.

In the end, none of it mattered. My daughter grew up knowing that she was loved more than anything in the world by her parents.  She didn't need a grandmother when it got right down to it.

I was the one who needed it. I needed my mother to love me and to love my daughter.

I was the one who set out to fill up the holes in my life with Beanie Babies.

And I spent my inheritance trying.


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A partial repost, in honor of the Beanie Babies moving out...
And she turned out to be a storyteller like you so you did the right thing all around.
I too know the pain of my father no longer speaking with my daughter and never having met his own great-grandson who is now 6.
Hurts like hell-each day.
I get this piece Joan, much more than I wish I did.
Ah, sad and funny and apt, the ways we cope with was is dumped in our laps sometimes. I missed this one, so glad to see, hoping a little girl who needs some love gets it from passed on Beanie Babies.
You know, yoour piece makes me, ironically, so grateful again that when we adopted our Black son, 22 years ago, our families, T's and mine, were wholly supportive and so I know, in an odd, obverse manner, what you've dealt with, at least to an extent. My dad, when we told him that we were going to adopt hm, asked me, in effect, if we were prepared for what might come. We said we were and he was wholly supportive. My sole regret is that my mother, who died at 45 in '73, never met our son.

Unlike most such fads, Beanie Babies were actually wonderful, cuddly toys. My daughter had bushels of them, and I even have one of my own (a return gift from her many years ago). So there's nothing to be said against them as such, but the idea that they would ever be "worth" anything (particularly those ugly "commemorative" ones of any sort) was absurd.

Cuddly as they are, I can easily understand how they can become a stand-in for love. Thanks for an honest and thought-provoking piece.

I can think of a lot worse ways to cope with rejection by a parent. Heck you could have given it all to some church or even to Scientology! Don't laugh. A lot of people have done just exactly that!

Buying love. I try to buy my mother's love with ice cream. It doesn't work. I just have to let it go. Let it go. Easy to say. G'bye Beanies. Time to move along.
It may seem strange, but the Beanie Babies leaving is a momentous event and an insignificant event at the same time. They took over my daughter's room, and now they are moving on. As did we all...

@Alan, I saved a few of my favorites from her childhood for purely sentimental reasons.

Linnn, she is the real writer in the family...:)

ladyfarmerjed, a parent rejecting a child is something I will never understand. I'm so sorry for your pain.

Rita, I hope someone else loves them too.

Jonathan, you were lucky. And yes, it's sad your mom didn't get to meet your son.

skypixie0, looking back, there were so many worse ways to cope. :)
zanelle, yup. You are absolutely right. Moving along... :)
Ah, Beanie Babies. We came very late to that party. I understand how we substitute things with purchases when we find ourselves wanting something that is impossible. I get this and I think many people have in their lives at some point or another, collected things which they thought were somehow meaningful or valuable to their existences. Then we reach the age which allows ourselves to look at everything clearly and we can let go of all the things, that we thought were what we needed. We can make peace with who and what we are and all the things that were real and imagined about that. Well done Joan, you are a person who reaches so many with your words.
I can't think of a better way to spend that inheritance. No better return than a happy daughter knowing she's loved, even if she is a bit overrun by Beanie Babies.
As someone who knows the insanity of waiting in line after line outside of Hallmark stores for the latest Beanie Baby (and also in McDonald's lines for the mini BB's that I had to buy not one but two Happy Meals to get - since I had two to buy for) I relate so well to this. My mother aided and abetted the madness. She'd wait in line at her NE Ohio stores to get me the ones I couldn't get in Cincinnati and vice versa. Guess what happened to them? I donated them to charity. Garbage bags full of them. Ridiculous although it was fun at the time.

But I've tried to buy love too, for my kids. Over and over again. It's futile but I still do it. It's a hard habit to break especially.
There are too many of us trying to fill in the holes. So sad./r
Jeez Joan, this hits home.

Beanie babies are so cute, I don't blame you for collecting them in lieu of your mother's love. I bought a few back in the day for my children. Not long ago I bought a large basket of them at a garage sale for ten cents a piece. Who can resist?
At least you know the whys and wherefores, I was over forty before I finally figured that out.
I once knew a woman who was bent on collecting them all, each one. Every single time they introduced a new one, she was at the store. I had four little kids in those days, so every Happy Meal was times four and they were like Tribbles!
The Beanie Babies moved out? Did they find jobs?
I spent one inheritance on a Jeep. I am happy every time I climb into it. I do not understanding the exclusion of a child from a parent's life. The Orthodox Jews used to do this if a child married out of the faith. I don't know if that is still done.

I am sorry that you had to lose your mother twice. Once is hard enough.
I remember this, it's even better now. As are you. Keep one or two if The J really loved them, otherwise toss those tainted talismans of guilt and pain. With or without an inheritance, you have given and received so much more love than she ever would or could have done.
This is in accounting terminology a sunk cost. It was worthwhile at the time of purchase.
Joan, every year I go home and sleep on a bed that has all my sons beanie babies above them. He too was going to pay for college tuition- but alas all those things went the way of his Goosebump books and my Bradford Exchange plates.

We may not have the $$ but we do have some memories and those who wont speak to us and resemble those very silent Beanie Babies.

A very touching story. Also a fine piece of symbolism as to the cost of withheld love.
I remember this one. I never liked Beanie Babies until I read your post.
Thanks for the RRR's, Bernadine!

Sheila, if we are lucky, we do make peace with the grief eventually. Thank you for the kind words.

jlsathre, and overrun, she was!

Margaret, I used to buy the Happy Meal, throw it out, and bring home the Beanie Baby. Oy.

Christine, you are so right. I'm betting there are many people walking around with big gaping holes, but you'd never know it to look at them.
My own mother would not have nothing to do with my son who is autistic. So I forbade her to have anything to do with my normal daughter. My family is racist and it has causede much distress over the years. In the end, I was happier without them around because all my daughters friends are Indian. And most of all, my son cried over her treatment of him.
As a person who gets some strange compulsions to buy crap... I get it and I am so glad that you did. It is odd that the intellectual understanding can't really help the need to... I suppose it is a compulsion because the story is easier than the truth. I am sorry for the pain that your mother caused.
Thanks for coming by, V.

Miguela, they were pretty cute, I'll admit. :)

jmac, there's just so much to figure out in life...

nilesite, imagine if I had more than one to buy for!

Con, they are on their way out. Freeloaders...

Ande, I wish I'd bought a jeep! Thank you for your kind words.

"tainted talismans of guilt and pain." Sally, you writer, you... thank you, my dear friend.

Sheepie, yes.

Linda, I think some of us were duped into thinking they'd be worth bazillions one day... :)

Thank you, Stim.
Joan, I'm so sorry your mother missed such a lovely granddaughter, and I'm sorry for your pain. It seems so petty to go to the grave carrying grudges. I'm reminded of a quote I saw somewhere, that carrying a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. And it sounds like with or without Beanie Babies, your daughter was loved and cherished.
good kinda crazy , i say!
""How could she have done this to me?"
easy. mothers can do anything to u, due to all those womb months .
my mom did a similar job on me.

"People who loved her madly besides her dad and me."
at her heroic goofy addled bedside.

she kept wanting to "go to school". hm.

In the end, none of it mattered.
My daughter grew up knowing that she was loved more
than anything in the world by her parents.
She didn't need a grandmother when it got right down to it."

i hope that my nephew, who never met his Grandmother
or GRandfather,
til the very end,
til the money became important,
i must say...
i hope the boy could get a sense of what he missed.
Mimetalker, thank you!

What I've learned, thank you for reading and commenting. It breaks my heart to think someone would reject a child. In my eyes, you did the sane thing.

snarkychaser, thank you for coming by. "I suppose it is a compulsion because the story is easier than the truth." I like that.

froggy, that quote couldn't be more true. Thank you.

James, thank you for your comment. I appreciate "good kind of crazy" very much... :)
I spent what I found under the couch in change on an ice cream cone. Not the same but I thought I would share!! :)

(my philosophy, your mom's lost!! U good peeps!!! ~hug~ That's my serious comment...god, I'm tired.......)
I've got a whole box of them in my basement. Can I add them to your pile?

Get rid of them. In so doing, maybe it will get rid of some the anger and resentment they represent.
A beautiful essay. Thanks for sharing. R
You really could teach a master class in writing, Joanie. You are flat out one of the best writers on this blog site. Magnificent. ... And, R, of course.
Beautiful. r. My family understands this. My niece's children are biracial. We love them very much. It is a terrible thing in my opinion to disown anyone, much less your own flesh and blood. It's one thing to be angry, and quite another to be vengeful. It's sad that your mother never did the right thing to patch it up, but in her mind must have thought she did the right thing by doing that in her will. I'm glad you continued on with a happy life and a strong family unit of your own. If it wasn't for the one reason, she might have found yet another. She was mad you were leaving her. Could you not sell those beanie babies as a whole collection on ebay?
Jeez Joan you write where it hurts.
I'm tempted to think when she threw out a signed copy of House On Pooh Corner it might have been deliberate, but ... naah, no-one's that out-of-whack, are they ?
Joan, the heartache of our mum's disowning us is only surpassed by the heartache that they also disowned their grandchildren. It used to kill me to know that my mother would buy Christmas gifts for neighbourhood children but not for her grandchildren.

Much love, Joan.
Wow. This really gives me an insight into the Beanie Baby craze. I wonder how many other parents were buying them for similar reasons? As always, I feel so sad about what you had to go through with your mother. What's wonderful and uplifting is the beautiful bond that you have with your own daughter.
That your momma left you in her will seems to show her ambivalence about cutting you from her life. While to you, it felt like a wall of silence, in her head perhaps, a door always stayed open.

Regardless, I am glad that you are sending the beanie babes to new homes. It's time, in so many ways.
{{Tink}} thank you for reading and commenting twice!

Cranky, they are on their way out the door. Thanks. :)

Judy, thanks so much for coming by~

Deborah, I'm blushing and sputtering, your words are so kind. Thank you for the encouragement.

Lynette, yes it's unimaginable to disown a child. I think selling them on Ebay is a fine idea, but the more I think about it, the more I think I'll donate them somewhere, and be done with it. Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

Kim, throwing out those books was nuts. There were other things too, but those may have been the most valuable. It's a mystery.

Little Kate, your comment breaks my heart. Why did she do that, I wonder? Another mystery.

Alysa, it certainly was a craze. I don't know what compels people to buy so much of something, but I'm pretty sure there is a big hole somewhere they are trying to fill.

Greenie, it was my daughter who (before moving this week) cleaned out her room again, and said we should get rid of them. I looked at this mountain of stuffed animals and though it had never occurred to me to get rid of them, I now couldn't wait... :)
i know it is no substitute, but its the truth: i love you. and i love your brilliant and loving daughter. not as much as you, cause i havent seen as much of her in your writing as i have of you, but enough that, added up with everyone here, more good vibes go her way on any given day than someone with four loving grandparents.

ah, but its small consolation, i know. my boy was lucky enough to have two utterly uncaring grandparents, one still here. some people do not deserve their riches.

if i were you, i'd pick a couple to save for myself, too. they are very soft and quite lovely, some of them.
Love the way you justapose the hardness of pain with the softness of the beanies. You do have a way.
You interpret your self and your relationships so well, so wisely.

But Beanie Babies? I didn't think smart people did that!

My crazy stupid ex-sister-in-law who could drive a family into bankruptcy faster than anyone you could ever imagine had three big plastic bins of them - and not your run of the mill plastic bins, she had 4 foot long ones. I bet they were still in the crawl space when the house was foreclosed.

Congratulations on getting rid of them - along with their symbolism. Especially that.
Daisyjane, thank you, thank you, thank you. You warmed my heart today. xox

Rachel, it was heartbreaking. But luckily, hearts heal... Thanks so much for reading.

Sarah, thank you. Good to see you back!

nerd cred, didn't you read the story? I was temporarily, certifiably nuts! :)
Wow, your sister-in-law must have been spending money on more than Beanie Babies.
The ones in our house are leaving this week...
Reading your words, Joan ... and ... thinking that ... somehow ... through all of this ... you found the softest softest way ... to change what so easily could have felt a burden for your daughter ... had she been able to sense your pain ... into a chance for her to feel instead ... the lightest softest ... warmest gifts of joy ... the lightest softest ... warmest gifts ... of love ...
Wow. What a brave post! Definitely strikes a chord with me. Thanks.
We all spend our money trying to fill in the holes. It could be could have tried with over-work, cocaine, food, or lots and lots of garage sales purchases. I've seen the results of that, and it's not pretty.