Emma arranged the dolls in her small room. She carefully set each one in place, combed her hair. Each doll had a name. They were all dressed in beautiful dresses and behaved royally in each game.
Emma, too, was like her dolls—beautiful, neat, always with her hair pulled back and in a clean dress. She behaved politely, consciously always obeyed her elders. Emma had a brother, James, the exact opposite of her sister.
James was constantly throwing his things away, not putting away his toys, breaking Emma’s toys and things of his parents. He was a real bully. He forgot to say thank you, was naughty, and did not listen to anyone.
And now James stormed into the children’s room, which was the only one for both of them, and demolished all of these dolls. The girl groaned and muttered, “James, where are you going? You need to watch your step. Look what you have done.”
James stopped for a minute, looked around, and then said, “Well, what have I done? So, your dolls fell down. So what? I have an important case. I do not care about your toys.”
Mama called Emma soon. Barbara, the mother of the three-year-olds, arrived. She looked around the room and then turned to James. “You again! How many times have I told you not to stop your sister from playing? Why can’t you go into the room quietly? Why are you making a nuisance of yourself? I know that you did it on purpose.”
“I didn’t do it on purpose. There’s nowhere to go. She was sitting in the middle of the room. I didn’t even see her. Otherwise, I would have stepped on her or I would have stepped on the toys. There is nowhere to go because your toys are all over the place. And I told you yesterday to put them away. Look how clean your sister’s place is. Why is it so hard for you to put the cars away?”
“It takes a long time, and now I’m busy with a very important thing,” waved off James. “You have been making excuses for so long. Daddy stepped on your car in the hallway at night. Your toys are everywhere, James. I’ll give you until tonight to put everything in its place,” Mum concluded, and then she left the room.
James did not answer anything but continued to do his business. “Now I’m going to go fly a kite with the boys. It’s so big, you can’t imagine,” who said admiringly. “Mum said to put the toys away,” Emma answered him. “Putting the dolls back in their places is such a drag. I can put the toys away later.”
The boy took the kite and ran out of the room, almost hitting the dolls again. Emma covered them with her hand, looked after her brother, shook her head, and then continued playing.
In the evening, of course, James did not put the toys away. Her mother did not make a row before she went to bed and asked Emma not to interfere. In the morning, Emma woke up first. She immediately went to wash her face and then sat down and began to comb her hair in front of the mirror.
James woke up later. He jumped out of bed as usual and ran to get his favorite robot, with which he usually had breakfast. The boy was very surprised when he saw that all the shelves were empty. He looked around; none of his toys were there, only his sister.
James looked into the drawers and boxes, but even they were empty. Not a single car, not a single soldier. Even a kite, which yesterday James had left on the windowsill, had disappeared somewhere. The boy frowned, he began to look where they could have gone. He even got under the bed, but they were not there.
“Emma, did you take my toys?” James asked. “No, I didn’t see your toys. We went to bed together. They were still here,” James ran downstairs worriedly. His mother had already made breakfast. “Good morning, have you washed your face yet?” she asked, as usual.
“Good morning, Mom. Here’s the thing, do you know where all my toys are?” At that time, Emma came into the kitchen. She sat down at the table and listened to the conversation with interest. “I haven’t seen your toys. I asked you to put them away all day, but you didn’t listen to me. When you went to bed, your toys were still scattered. They looked very sad and upset. Maybe they were hurt and left you for other kids who would cherish them and appreciate them.”
“Where did they go? Where can I find them now?” James asked. “I do not know. I do not know,” Mum shook her head. “Maybe you should go and ask Grandpa,” Emma suggested. “Good idea. Grandpa has been mowing the grass outside the house since morning. If they went outside, he definitely saw them,” James said. “That’s right, we should go to him. Emma, will you come with me?” The girl nodded in response, and her brother began to finish his breakfast quickly.
Then he literally jumped out of his chair and ran into the yard. Emma could barely keep up with him. “Grandpa, tell me, have you seen where the toys have gone?” James asked. “No, I didn’t see where they went, but when I was mowing, I found your car,” the man reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a toy.
James took it and swirled it in his hands. “What are we going to do?” Emma asked. “Tell me, where did you find it?” Grandpa pointed to the shed. “There, it was lying there,” he smiled. “Wait, I’ll take the typewriter back to its place,” said James to his sister. He ran upstairs to the room, carefully put the typewriter on the shelf, and then went back to the yard.
There, he took his sister by the hand, and then they went to the barn. James ran into it first. He started looking for toys everywhere—under the drawers, in drawers, in containers, in boxes. They were nowhere to be found. Then, Daddy came in. “Are you looking for something?” Daddy asked. “Have you seen my toys? They’ve gone somewhere. Grandpa found the car by the barn.”
“I think they’re here. I looked all over, but I couldn’t find them,” Daddy sighed. “What a pity,” said Emma. “What shall we do now?” “Wait, I found a soldier here behind the house, lying in the grass. I did not pick it up. I thought you scattered your toys again,” joyfully James ran behind the house, and Emma followed him.
They began to carefully examine the lawn. “I found it!” shouted his sister. “Come here!” James ran up to her and took the toy. He shook off the dirt and grass and put it in his pocket. Then, he looked around for the other toys. Then, he started walking along the fence until he saw a small gap in it.
“I think that’s where they are,” the boys suggested. Emma looked into the gap and saw a car and an uncle who was about to leave for town. The children looked at each other and then they ran beyond the fence and approached the man. “Uncle, uncle, wait a minute!” What a good you wanted to say goodbye,” Emma exclaimed. “I didn’t want to wake you up. You were sleeping so loudly,” he answered with a smile. “We didn’t want to say goodbye. We wanted to ask you something. Have you seen my toys? We’ve been looking for them for a long time. They have gone in some direction, but no one knows where.”
“I saw them,” Emma and James did not expect such an answer. “Where? Where did you see them? Where did they go?” they asked eagerly. “They’re in my trunk, really. That’s great! So we found them,” James exclaimed. “Give it to me,” the uncle thought for a minute. “Is it worth it? The toys asked me to take them to town and give them to other children. They said you treated them badly. I don’t think they want to come back to you. You don’t like them at all.”
“That’s not true! I love them. I love them very much,” James insisted. “Then why did you treat them like that? The car has no wheel because you threw it on the floor.
The little soldier has no foot because you stepped on it, and the gun is left in the rain and rusty,” the uncle scolded. “I won’t do it again. I’ll clean them up, do you promise?” James nodded. “Well, I will come back in a week. If the toys complain, I will take them away, and I’ll see to it,” assured Emma’s uncle.
The uncle went to the trunk, opened it, and took out all of his nephew’s toys. James took the bags and muttered, “I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.” He ran upstairs and began arranging his toys in their places, wiping each one gently. Some of them, he even managed to fix.
This story that happened to James turned out to be very instructive. After that, he became more careful and thoughtful. He remembered it for the rest of his life, and even now, 30 years later, he remembers it.
James was now 36 years old. He was sitting on a bench in a yard, remembering his childhood with his uncle. “So, whose idea was it with the toys?” James asked him. Uncle Michael smiled. “Your mother’s. She was always inventing things and she asked all of us to play along with her. It all turned out to be crazy, of course, but it worked, didn’t it?”
“You’re right. Yes, it worked. And the little man who eats my candy when I don’t finish my soup was her idea too,” James laughed. “It was hers,” left Michael. “And the evil toothbrush and the harmful blanket, and all the other things your mother made up.”
James smiled and looked at the time. Emma was about to drive up. As soon as he said that, the gate opened, and a beautiful, well-groomed woman of 35 entered. “Sister!” James rushed to her. “You’re beautiful! I haven’t seen you for five years. You do not change at all.”
“I completely agree with your brother. A real beauty,” smiled his uncle and hugged her. “Thank you for your kind words. I’m very glad to see you. Well, where is Mom? It’s her birthday today, right?”
Their mother, Barbara’s 60th birthday, today. Their children and her brother wanted to give her a real birthday present. They arrived at exactly two o’clock, as promised, but she wasn’t home. “Mom wasn’t home, so we went all the way around. The door was open. Maybe she went out to a neighbor’s house,” Emma suggested.
“Maybe, how strange. Mom didn’t even set the table. Maybe she didn’t have time. Anything is possible,” James added. “Maybe she didn’t sleep well. Shouldn’t we take her to a cafe or order food?” Emma suggested. “She’ll come, and we’ll decide. Do you have the present, Emma?” “Yeah, it’s in the car. Can you bring it?” Michael nodded and went to get his niece.
They brought the multi-cooker, brought it home, and put it on the table. Emma put the kettle on, and the men helped set the table. Suddenly, they heard the familiar voice. “Good afternoon, my dears. I didn’t hear you arrive.” Everyone turned around abruptly. Mom came out of the room as if nothing had happened.
“Mom! Hi! Where have you been?” surprised her daughter asked. “In the room,” she answered calmly. “I checked. You weren’t there.” “Yes, so not in the room, and then as if nothing had happened, went to the sink and washed her hands.” The children looked at each other but remained silent.
Barbara poured herself a cup of tea and then said, “I was not expecting you. I’m sorry. I didn’t cook anything.” “You didn’t expect me? My son was surprised. “We called you to say we’d be here Friday at two o’clock.” “Yeah, I don’t remember. I guess I’ve been too busy. What happened? What’s with all three of you coming over all of a sudden?”
“It’s your birthday. It’s your anniversary. We came to congratulate you,” James explained. “That’s right, an anniversary. It’s good that you didn’t forget it. We’ll celebrate it. Call Mary. We’ll bake a cake with her. Where is she?” “Still asleep in her crib,” Barbara smiled. Emma sighed heavily and then went over to her mother and sat down next to her. She hugged the woman and stroked her back.
“Mommy, my darling. Mary is 10 years old now. She is in school and now she is at home in class,” Emma said softly. “It cannot be. How quickly she has grown,” her mother noted and covered her mouth with her hand from excitement. “I’ll take Mama upstairs and help her get dressed. She can’t celebrate in a robe. And you, order some food, okay?” Emma suggested. “She took her mother under her arm. They went up to the second floor.”
“Yeah, Mom’s Yeah, Mom’s memory isn’t what it used to be,” James whispered to his uncle. “It’s been a while since we’ve seen her like this,” Uncle Michael sighed. “But let’s make this celebration special for her. She deserves it.”
The brothers quickly ordered food for the celebration and set the table with the help of Uncle Michael. They decorated the room with balloons and streamers, creating a festive atmosphere. Emma came down with her mother, who was now dressed in a beautiful outfit.
Barbara looked around and smiled. “Oh, you guys really went all out! It’s so lovely,” she said, her eyes filled with joy. The family sat down at the table, sharing stories and laughter, reminiscing about old times. Despite the occasional forgetfulness, Barbara seemed to be genuinely happy.
As they finished their meal, Emma brought out the birthday cake she had prepared earlier. It was adorned with candles and a heartfelt message for their mother. They all sang “Happy Birthday,” and Barbara blew out the candles, making a wish.
With tears of joy in her eyes, Barbara thanked her children and brother for the beautiful celebration. “I am so grateful to have all of you in my life,” she said, her voice filled with love. “Every moment we spend together is precious, and I cherish it deeply.”
They spent the rest of the day enjoying each other’s company, sharing stories, and creating new memories. Despite the challenges they had faced, the bond within the family remained strong, and their love for one another only grew stronger.
As the evening drew to a close, Uncle Michael looked at his niece and nephews with pride. “Your mother would be so proud of the remarkable individuals you’ve become,” he said, his voice filled with affection. “Remember to always cherish these moments and hold them dear in your hearts.”
They all hugged tightly, feeling the warmth and love that filled the room. The celebration may have had its unexpected moments, but it was a reminder of the importance of family, resilience, and the power of love.
Years later, when they looked back on this day, they would remember it as a testament to their unwavering bond and the love they shared as a family. And no matter what challenges they faced, they knew they could always count on each other, just as they did on that memorable birthday celebration. Years passed, and the family continued to support and care for one another. They held annual gatherings, celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions. Each time they came together, it served as a reminder of the love and strength that bound them.
Emma’s daughter, Mary, grew into a confident and talented young woman. She pursued her dreams and became an accomplished artist. James’ daughters, Kate and Lola, were inseparable and shared a deep bond, just like their father and aunt.
Uncle Michael, despite his advancing age, remained a constant pillar of support for the family. His wisdom and gentle presence brought comfort and guidance to his niece and nephews. He often shared stories from their childhood, reminding them of the lessons learned and the importance of cherishing family.
Barbara’s memory continued to fade over time, but the family adapted to the changes. They developed strategies to help her stay connected to her loved ones and engaged in activities that brought her joy. They filled photo albums with cherished memories, creating visual aids to help her remember.
On a sunny afternoon, the family gathered at the cottage, their beloved meeting place. Laughter filled the air as they shared stories, played games, and enjoyed each other’s company. They grilled shashlik, just as they had done years before, savoring the taste of tradition and togetherness.
As the sun began to set, they sat around a bonfire, its warm glow reflecting in their eyes. They talked about the past, the present, and the future, sharing dreams and aspirations. Despite the challenges they had faced, their spirits remained resilient, fueled by the love they had for one another.
Uncle Michael looked at his niece and nephews with pride, seeing the remarkable individuals they had become. “You have carried the torch of love and family through the years,” he said, his voice filled with emotion. “Your mother would be so proud of the bonds you’ve nurtured and the way you’ve cared for one another.”
Emma, James, and Mary exchanged glances, their hearts filled with gratitude for the gift of family. They knew that no matter what lay ahead, their shared memories, support, and love would always be their guiding light.
And so, as the stars dotted the night sky, the family huddled closer together, their voices blending in laughter and song. They embraced the present, treasured the past, and embraced the future, knowing that their bond would forever remain unbreakable.
For it was in the warmth of their love, in the strength of their unity, that they found solace and joy. And in the legacy they were building, they carried forward the spirit of their beloved mother, forever keeping her memory alive.
Together, they faced life’s joys and challenges, drawing strength from the love they shared as a family. And in their hearts, the flame of their bond burned brightly, illuminating their path with warmth, hope, and the enduring power of family.