My mother loved this doll before she ever knew me, and I loved this doll before I ever knew my own daughters.
I was only allowed to play with this doll on very rare occasions. Most of the time it sat on a shelf near Mom's vanity, so my fond memories of Mom meticulously applying her make-up and doing her hair (just like Jackie Kennedy, as I recall) included the vision of Käthe Kruse in the background -- always graceful, always beautiful, and always slightly mysterious.
Käthe has real human hair, which always creeped me out a little, but never prevented me from begging Mom to allow me to braid her hair just this once, just today... please?
But Mom always replied that I should play with Goldilocks' hair instead. Goldilocks was a plastic American doll that I was given when I was seven and like a bad mother, I always felt guilty that I couldn't love Goldilocks as deeply as I loved Käthe, because while Goldilocks was pretty, Käthe was exquisite, and her inaccessibility even made her more perfect in my eyes.
I always wished that I could look like Mom's Käthe Kruse doll and the fact that my beautiful cousin, Anya, did look like the doll just fueled an irrational jealousy that permeated my childhood and lasted even into adulthood.
Mom's Käthe Kruse doll never lived in my room as I was growing up and she didn't live in my house during most of my adulthood. It was only after Mom's death in 2004 that I was given permission to take Käthe down from atop the tall mahogany wardrobe that looked upon Mom's deathbed and lovingly bring her home to live with me and my daughters.
Käthe lives on my oak dresser now. My daughters have never begged to brush her hair or dress her in a different outfit (of which there are many -- some original, some sewn by Mom when I was young and some, like what she now wears, a relatively recent gift from Mom's German friend). Neither of my daughters has loving and longing memories of this beautiful doll from the heart and mind of a young girl and so, when I die and leave Käthe behind (to which daughter? now there's a conundrum!), their memories won't be filled with emotion, as mine are.
I realized, as I wrote this entry, that I don't know much about how Mom came to own her Käthe Kruse doll. Did her mother give her the doll? (Not likely, as her mother was, from all I've heard, far from lovingly maternal.) Did the doll belong, perhaps, to my grandmother? Or is it newer, something that Mom acquired as a young adult -- and why? I wish I could call and ask her, but alas, she's as mute as Käthe.*
*Upon talking to Dad, I learned that a guy who had a crush on Mom gave it to her as a wedding present!