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Teddy Bear Delivery
Monday, Jan. 10, 2005, 8:44 p.m.

QUESTION: Why is there a bear in the mail?

WHAT I LEARNED: Everyone can use a teddy bear.

I went to see my mom this weekend. She is recovering from her stroke but I wish things were going better for her. She is thinner and has zero energy and her visual impairment is still the same as it was from the point of the stroke. This makes it hard for her to read or watch TV. She doesn’t have the energy to exercise and do all the chores around the house she used to do with much more capability than I could ever muster. She also has some holes in her memory and I know that really bothers her. She is doing her best however to get back into her routine. She’s an amazing person.

Before I went to Orlando in December, I sent her an incredibly soft stuffed bear. I stuffed the stuffed bear in a big mailer envelope but I didn’t stuff a note in the mailer with the stuffed bear. The snaking post office line made my brain cells dizzy and forgetful and so I sent the package off note-less with plans to call my mother with a teddy bear explanation later.

In Orlando I was overtaken by the delights of a family vacation and even though I checked in with my mom, I forgot to tell her about the golden-furred bear soon to arrive in the mail. Upon our return my mother inquired about the bear, stating that although it was a very nice bear indeed, she did not understand why it had arrived at her house while I was on vacation.

I put the bear on a shelf in the bedroom – she informed me. How is it my mother knows nothing about the proper use of a teddy bear? It’s for hugging for heaven’s sake. Anyone knows that. Even though she has a real kitty cat, she needed a teddy bear for its special therapeutic value. I once read an article that suggested adult patients in the hospital for breast cancer surgery benefited from the comfort of the good old fashion teddy bear and so I figured that it might be a good idea in case of a stroke too.

A teddy bear is a reminder of one of the cardinal comforts of kid-hood – a favorite stuffed animal. This particular teddy bear had the look of a Winnie-the-Pooh – a story that I clearly remember my mom reading to me with much gusto when I was a wee wisp of a girl – which is why I picked it out. It was a favorite book for both of us. I still have my beat up copy.

When I went to visit this weekend I saw the bear. It was on the bookshelf backwards with its fluffy ass up in the air. Mother – I said – what is that bear doing over there with its butt sticking out for all the world to see? It’s supposed to be with you in your bed for the creature comfort of it. Mom guiltily grabbed the backwards bear and then I explained to her again about the article, about why I picked this bear, and about harkening back to childhood comfort.

When my kids were little I used to make their stuffed animals talk – not really of course but just for pretend. Even though you could see my mouth moving clear as day, when you get those little furry stuffed arms and legs bending about and the head turning here and there – well, it’s very endearing really in an inexplicably silly kind of way and inevitably, everyone starts interacting with the talking critter. I put the bear on my knee until it looked quite comfortable and suddenly that bear was doing a monologue - explain to my mom, from a stuffed bear’s point of view, why it would be advantageous for all involved to include said stuffed bear in any daily routine.

My mom started to laugh. That made me laugh too. It was so good to see her smile. Of course, that encouraged me to go on making the bear talk with even more animation and expression until I was sure she was not going to put the yellow bear that looked like Winnie-the-Pooh back on the shelf again.

I think it worked because when I left the bear was sitting on the bed right beside her. It looks like there will be no more backward-facing shelf sitting for this bear. It makes sense because after all - who doesn’t need a good teddy bear moment once in awhile?

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