It all happened the summer I turned 13 years old. Otis was there; he saw it too. He can testify and tell you how crazy it was, but you have to be able to speak Cairn Terrier, of course.
It went like this: all the Gales were having a family reunion in Kansas. My mom carved 3 weeks out of our summer camps, classes, and vacations for this thing. It was huge! But that’s how it is with Deedee, big or bigger.
Deedee is what we call my Grandma, Dorothy Gale. The story of how I first tried out Deedee’s name is always passed around family get-togethers, so it was only a matter of time before I again heard how I tried to pronounce “Dorothy” at my 1-year-old birthday party.
Deedee found me sitting in the barn one day, scratching Otis and enjoying as the gentle wind played with my hair. I love Deedee’s barn. The faded, creaky, familiar walls turn golden in sunset and the smell of hay lingers comfortably, mingling with the scent of the freely scattered sweet peas in the magic barn. Deedee adores sweet peas, and as she walked up to the barn, I noticed she had a few in her hair. I jumped down from the retreat I had built a few years ago, the one only Deedee knows about.
“How is the wiz Dolly?” she asked, hugging me.
“Loving her dear old Deedee!” I smiled, cheerfully answering our old greeting. “Deedee,” I asked as she bent to pick a weed from a patch of pink sweet peas, “What is this?”
I pulled a little photograph out of my pocket and gave it to Deedee. Her hand shook a little as she straightened and held the photograph tenderly. “Where…where did you find this?” she asked quietly, staring into my eyes.
“I was poking around in the barn,” I mumbled, looking at my shoes. Obviously, I should’ve left the photo where it was, I thought.
“Danielle, Dolly my dear, don’t be ashamed!” Deedee laughed and squeezed my arm. “This just brings back young memories, Dolly darling,” she explained, leading me to the swing that guards the front of the barn. “Sit by me, and let me tell you some things,” she said, patting the empty seat beside her. “See there,” she said as I sat down, “See that young girl is me,” she pointed to a girl with dark hair in a blue dress. “That standing next to me is Tim, the mechanic who worked in this very barn.” Tim was a large man, well-built, with the friendliest smile I’d ever seen. His hair, face, and his clothes too, seemed to be tinted with silver.
“Does that man have straw in his hair?” I asked incredulously.
“Deedee laughed, “Yes, of course! That’s Scotty, our farmhard we had. He was always covered in something, we should be grateful it wasn’t slops.”
“Deedee,” I asked, pointing to the girl in the picture (I couldn’t believe it was Deedee), “What are you holding?”
“Why, that is Toot, my dog I had when I was a girl. I believe,” she said, eyeing Otis, “That Otis is a descendent of Toot.”
“Deedee, if you’re holding Otis–I mean Toot, what’s Scotty holding?” I asked, scratching Otis behind his ears, the ears that are identical to Toot’s. Deedee looked where I was pointing and laughed so loud Otis jumped up, “I had forgotten all about Cow!”
“Wait, that brown, furry thing is a cow?” I asked, shocked.
“No, no of course. It’s a stuffed lion I won at the fair. We named him Cow Harold Lee,” she chuckled.
“Cow Harold Lee, like…Cowardly? Oh Deedee, did you name him after the Cowardly Lion in the the Wizard of Oz?” I laughed too, then took a closer look at the photo. “The Wizard of Oz,” I breathed, grabbing the photo, my eyes widening. The Cowardly Lion, Scotty with straw in his hair, Tim the silver-colored handyman, and my Deedee…Dorothy Gale! Toot, Toto, Kansas, it all fit. Except, a photo? Of a children’s story?
The wind picked up, and snatched the photograph out of my hand. I looked around. Deedee was nowhere in sight. The wind rocked the swing back and forth, back and forth, getting faster and faster. I grabbed little Otis, gripped the swing, and squeezed my eyes shut. When I opened them, hesitantly, a glittering, beautiful lady smiled and exclaimed, “Dorothy, you’ve come back!” She hugged me, and I noticed she smelled like sweet peas.
“Um, no,” I stuttered, pulling away from her, “I’m Deedee’s, I mean, Dorothy’s granddaughter Danielle. Dorothy calls me Dolly.”
“Dolly,” the gorgeous lady took my hand, “There have been generations of Gales that have passed through here. Are you ready to add your own adventure to their collection?”
I nodded, slowly at first, then picked up speed and confidence. She smiled her charming smile. “Then let me be the first to welcome you to Oz!”
By Rebecca Wood
Photo Credits: thejudyroom.com