How a “stray” sock monkey saved the day!


Thank you to the person who donated that little stuffed animal and the blankets to Stories for Seniors. You will never know what that meant to me.

A Sock Doll Monkey

It was brown, a soft brown that looked like a sock that my Uncle Jack would have worn during the Depression, nothing fancy, just made with a sturdy woven yarn. The sock was wrapped around a round ball for a head and there were two little red ears. Another sock formed the body and it was stuffed. It had a long tail, all made from a stretched, pulled and twisted old socks.

It was a monkey stuffed animal. I remember having one like it when I still lived in my big white house, with all of my favorite braided rugs. It sat on a wicker basket in my living room. The same house that hosted parties, had tomatoes planted along the side of the garage, and blueberries with cream in the refrigerator. I can still hear the sounds of the oscillating fans and the sound of my little boy saying, “I love you, Mom” as he ran out the back door. The days when I used to ask, “What kind of peanut butter do you want? Crunchy or creamy?”

When I moved, I gave away all of my things. I would not need the extras any more. It was not as if the monkey had a whole lot of sentimentality attached to it. It was a decoration, something cute and happy looking like the lollipops I used to keep in a vase.

Somebody gave me a monkey stuffed animal a couple of months ago. I smiled at the monkey and knew I could not give this one away. A monkey that was identical to the monkey that had sat in my living room. Now it held so many memories for me. It brought me comfort. It reminded me of my old life before I had to make so many changes. First, a move from that house to a small apartment, going to live with relatives, and now where I am now. Feeling, as if I do not have a place of my own. My own little nest where I can put a monkey on a basket, just on an old picnic basket with a broken handle, lined with a red and white checked cloth napkin.

Today, I was having a hard time focusing. I even wondered if I was having a stroke, pains in the neck, and heart thumping rapidly. I pulled a nubby blanket over me for comfort not warmth.

I started thinking about the picnics, when my family would reserve a table at a park and before anyone would come, I would go over and tape colorful balloons to the end of the table. I was never much of a cook so I would run back and forth to the grocery store for potato salad, hot dogs and pickles. Somehow it always turned out nice – watching the kids running down to the lake to feed the ducks, putting ointment on a skinned knee, helping each other bring watermelons down to the table, trying not to fall on the pebbled paths as we came down the hill.

So on Saturday, I was thinking too much about the old days, wistfully thinking about vacations, green plastic lawn chairs, posting my signs about yard sales, and even the days of cleaning my own house and doing loads of laundry. I thought about my family sitting in a pew at church, the people having barbecues with their families, and how lately I had felt like a 5th wheel. Nobody seems to need me. I find myself worrying a lot. I prayed to God to give me some peace. I miss my children.

I turned on the radio and listened to a station that played piano music. I do not know much about meditation but I just wanted to see if the music could help me relax. I tried to curl up in the nubby old afghan, but squirmed and moved around a lot thinking this music is not helping me. Then, I remembered the monkey and I reached over to get it.

I held it. I patted its back. I squeezed it. I felt love. I felt relaxed. I thought this is crazy. What if somebody peeks in and sees an old woman hugging a gangly-legged stuffed animal.

I was aware of what I was thinking: Hmm…I am holding this like it is a baby, but I know it is much smaller than a baby is. I love the feel of this against my chest. It was familiar but oh so long ago. I held babies like this, my own and others. I yearned for that closeness again. l almost felt like he hugged me.

It worked. The piano music, the nubby blanket and the monkey. I fell asleep and woke up rested. Like I had been in a silent sanctuary of peace.

A monkey made out of an old article of clothing, a sock, just like the kind I used to wash in my laundry room, where I would read stories to my children about a Gingerbread Man and Banbury Cakes.

Thank you to the person who donated that little stuffed animal and the blankets to Stories for Seniors. You will never know what that meant to me.

 About Patricia Gallagher:



And who were the Seniors a few short years ago? What were they doing? And what did they look like? Here are a few interesting photos! Snippets of the days gone by!







7 thoughts on “How a “stray” sock monkey saved the day!

  1. This email was sure an answer to prayer today. I have 11 nursing homes lined up for “stuffed animal” visits in November and I only had a 2 dozen stuffed animals left.

    I saw the article about your group on I have a bag of new/barely used stuffed animals that I would like to donate. These are all stuffed animals from when my daughter was a teenager and spent most of their lives sitting around her room! Please let me know what is the best way to get them to your group. Dropping them off at your house is not an issue. Thank you.

  2. Thank goodness for responses from Moms like this nice lady. Just in the knick of time when our stuffed animal “inventory” was low….a fancy name for the collection that sits on my pool table in the rec room.

    This is from a mom who saw a notice in the paper:

    Hi, I live in Yardley so it wouldn’t be a problem as I am always out and about. I am a stay at home mom and am pretty flexible.

    I remember reading something about what you were doing and then seeing something on Craigslist too. I have been trying to get my children’s things organized and have been donating some of the things they have out grown as well as trying to get my older child (he’s 7) into doing things that help and benefit others.

    Let me know what your schedule is like next week and I can try to get them to you at some point then!

  3. Dear Friends,

    Please see our site and then click the left button that says 20 WONDERFUL THINGS.

    For our nursing home visits in November, I would like to let them see 20 WONDERFUL THINGS from the past related to Thanksgiving, memory joggers and the same needed for Holidays related to Christmas and Hannukah. Any old items, not valuable, just things that your family may have laying around that could bring joy to the elderly to reminisce.

    Old Christmas card, old photo or old holiday calendar, teacups, etc. Things from the 40’s and 50’s that could be CONVERSATION STARTERS for our program.

    Thank you.

    Patricia Gallagher
    Reminiscence Coordinator
    20 Wonderful Things Program and Stories for Seniors
    Cell: 267 939 0365

  4. Patricia,

    Our residents are young at heart. You really touched the magic of long ago with your program about Brides and Weddings. They loved the wedding gowns and the music that you brought along. I liked your questions about their marriage proposal, how they met the special person, and all of their wedding plans.

    There sure were a few hilarious memories and a few that tugged at your heart during the separations of the GI’s from their new brides during the war. And how about the one that the groom changed his mind at the last minute?

    Boy, the price of weddings has sure skyrocketed from the 40’s and 50’s?

    How about the woman who came from England to marry her handsome soldier?

    We learned some new stories about our residents and had a great time.

  5. Today at the retirement facility, I passed out the stuffed animals and asked people to share a memory about the one that they picked. The first lady had a sweatshirt decorated with aqua flowers. She picked a big fish that matched the aqua colors exactly. “What does that fish remind you of?” I asked her.

    “You know, I never had a stuffed animal.”

    Somehow the conversation with the residents turned to separations – the kind that happened to loved ones during WWII.

    “My husband left when my son Ronnie was only six weeks ago. He was overseas in Europe fighting the Nazi’s for three years. He came home at 11 pm on December 22, 1945. Little Ronnie was asleep and I woke him up and said, “Ronnie, do you know who this is?”

    “Yes, you are my Daddy. Where is my bike?”

    I had told Ronnie that his Daddy was in the Army and when he came home, he would get him a bike. Bikes were hard to come by during the war because metal was scarce – because it was needed for the war effort.

    We lived in Phoenixville. I told my husband he had to go out and get Ronnie the bike. “It doesn’t matter what it costs. Go to Philadelphia and find him one.”

    He did. He went to Philadelphia and got him a black bike – a little tricyle. He carried it up three floors to my mother-in-law’s apartment and Ronnie got his bike and his Daddy on the same night.

    I met my husband when we were both 14. He gave me the best present of my life. I was so excited when he gave it to me. . It was perfume called Bird of Paradise and it came in a beautiful box.

  6. One lady today at the retirement community in Montgomery County just held her tiny stuffed animal and just kept it close to her mouth and kissed it over and over again.

    We all read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” as a group and then sang Christmas Carols. You could tell there were a few ladies that had sung in their church choirs. We all sounded pretty good.

    I was supposed to stay for an hour but the time flew by…..and I stayed for an hour and a half.

    I don’t know why but I like to ask this question to the residents.

    “Just pretend that somebody came in today and asked you to adopt a little baby girl rom China. What would you name her?”

    Today, the answers were:

    “I would name her Grace because that is what she would be to me.”


    “Chris or Holly, in honor of the Christmas season.”

    “I would name her Inez after me.”

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