US & Canada

Dad's comfort doll 'helping him fly for 43 years'

An image of a doll packed in a suitcase on top of a shirt. Image copyright Lesley Grashow
Image caption James packs his comfort doll in his case before flying off to visit his daughter

When Zoe was five years old she made her dad a doll.

The doll was lovingly produced so that dad James Grashow, who is afraid of flying, had something to hold onto when he went on a plane.

Forty-three years on, and he has taken the doll with him on every flight he has boarded since.

Speaking of the doll, James said: "I believe in magic and there is no more powerful magic than the magic that's created from love."

"Mum just sent me this picture. He is packed to come visit me. The doll is 43 years old!"

These were the words Zoe posted on Reddit as her dad prepared to visit her in the US city of Los Angeles from the other side of the country, in Connecticut.

"My Dad has always been afraid to fly," Zoe told the BBC. "He had turned down many opportunities because of his fear of flying.

"I moved to California in 2000. That meant to visit me and the grandkids there would be lots of flying!"

Los Angeles is more than seven hours away from Connecticut by plane.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The alternative to a flight would be a 42-hour drive across the US

Zoe has a close relationship with her dad: "My father has a wonderful studio filled with material, and I spent much of my childhood building things in there while he worked."

James remembers the flight the doll was made for.

He needed to visit Cuba to help set up a ballet, which meant flying from the US via Toronto, Canada.  

Responding to some of the comments on Reddit, he said: "I didn't carry that doll because of strength or love, but rather because of weakness and fear." 

Image copyright Lesley Grashow
Image caption Zoe and her dad have always had a close relationship

'He clutches it so tightly'

Zoe's post has resonated with more than 100,000 people on Reddit so far.

One Reddit user Chickenfat67 asked Zoe: "This makes my heart so happy! Does he still hold onto it on the plane? It would be tragic if this treasure was packed in checked luggage and lost by the airline."

Image copyright Lesley Grashow
Image caption Zoe and her dad are still close now

Zoe told the BBC: "When he flies he clutches it so tightly.

"I remember times of great panic when the doll was lost and everyone was freaking out until we found it.

"Also, when the doll was accidentally put through the laundry, there would have to be some repair. But all in all it has held up really well!"


Analysis

By Professor of Psychology Bruce Hood, University of Bristol

Many people find comfort in objects that have sentimental attachment - especially those given to us by loved ones.

Around two-thirds of children spontaneously become emotionally attached to blankets and teddy bears, but then as we form significant emotional relationships with others, we also value keepsakes and heirlooms that are given to us.

Humans have a peculiar relationship with possessions.

In many ways, our sense of identity extends into the possessions that we own which is why there is such a large market for memorabilia, and the greater the contact with the person that is admired - the greater the value.


Spongebob and Skittles

Some Reddit users have come forward with tales of their own sentimental objects which they take on their travels.

dragoonjefy said: "My daughter gave me a little Kinder Egg Cinderella toy to keep in my pocket during my business flight when she was two.

"I still struggle with anxiety and hate flying, and I still have that little Cinderella toy."

Soundsfakebutokay_ said: "My dad used to travel a lot for work and when I was little I gave him my favourite little Spongebob candy dispenser to take with him.

"Whenever he would leave for a trip I made sure I refilled the Spongebob with skittles (his favourite). He would send pictures of all the places Spongebob went with him."

But, it turns out not everyone is as sentimental as Zoe's father:

desertpolarbear: "Back when I was six, I made and painted my dad a crocodile out of salt dough.

"He threw it out pretty much the very next day like everything else I ever made him.

"He is not a sentimental man."

By Victoria Park and Kris Bramwell, UGC & Social news

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