Sitting forlorn and slightly askew, a way up high, hidden behind stiff-legged Barbies and Bennington High School Swim Team awards, lists a sad little, mottled little, tattered little bear.
Never ever, ever “Teddy’s” at this house, all sported particular names of just their own. There is Voltaire Bear, and Trudy 1 along with Trudy 2 (twins, so named when one was replaced with a duplicate when the first was thought lost. Not so. They now live pleasantly together in another room, and a place of prominence.)
But this sad, worn and torn, colorless, barely stuffed animal, forgotten now, had heretofore had a place of honor. Always, ALWAYS, in the arms of our first born, a feisty, full of animation, beautifully headstrong girl, Katerina. Mama Bear was the first, sleeping in the crib by the powdered and diaper infant. She hung with a Velcro strap from the bottom of the safety seat in the car. She attended pre-school, had her own chair at the dinner table, along with a parade of special beds made from discarded tissue boxes and Goodwill discards.
Katerina, still headstrong, grew up and on, Girl Scouts and Explorers and after school clubs. Mama Bear, while not always invited, waited patiently in her special place in front of the prettiest pillows on the bedspread of pink and green. Kat used her for a pillow, for a bookstand, and always Mama Bear’s eyes gleamed.
And when Kat entered her in a “Most Loved Stuffed Animal” contest, is there any doubt she handlily wom a First Place ribbon? Kat is sure it’s because Mama Bear was left in the rain more than once, and pitiful translates to pity. I prefer to think, however, Mama Bear whispered promises in someone’s ear. She had a way, that bear.
No surprise, though, as Kat danced down her merry path though life, Mama Bear found herself not watching from her exalted spot on the bed, but now from the dresser, then later from the top shelf.
Up and on and out, children become independent and leave even loved ones behind. Just this day, cleaning out Kat’s closet, sorting and sending items and memories along the way to new lives, Mama Bear peaked out from behind a particularly well-dressed Barbie Doll, clearly faded and sad in comparison. I struggled just a moment on whether to allow her a dignified end to her dark closeted exile. This time, though, she whispered to me.
“Makes no mind if I’m not in the middle of the dance. I will always be Most Loved, no matter where I sit.”
I think I shall leave her on the shelf, for now. For she is a Bear of great wisdom.