The Want of a Teddy Bear, non-fiction by Fay L. Loomis at Spillwords.com
Hosein Charbaghi

Want of a Teddy Bear

Want of a Teddy Bear

written by: Fay L. Loomis

 

For more than thirty years, my Teddy Bear has perched on a pale turquoise chair across from my bed. His warm caramel color contrasts with dark brown tufts that mark his eyes, nose, and ears. Reddish brown circles define his paws. This simple, sturdy bear tasks me daily to opt for possibilities.
My secretary was the inspiration for finding a bear, when she shared a wrenching tale of loss and recovery. Her Teddy Bear mysteriously disappeared while she was building a leaf fort. She was inconsolable. In the spring her dad cleaned the garage and miraculously found her best friend under a tarp. Cheryl became a devoted Teddy Bear aficionado, collecting bears and participating in Teddy Bear gatherings all over the United States.
I stood in front of her desk, tears seeping into my eyes. I deeply understood her loss and instinctively knew I had suffered one, too.
I never had a Teddy Bear.
I instantly knew I had to have a bear, though I had never craved or ever wanted one.
The year was 1942. America had suffered a depression and was now in a war. Times had been— and continued to be—hard. Our family was especially challenged with five children. Gift giving was nonexistent, celebrations minimal.
As Christmas approached, the teacher asked each of us kindergartners to stand in front of the room and recite the list of gifts we were going to ask Santa to bring. I’d never heard of this idea. Stunned, I ran all the way home to share this newfound plan with Mom. She set me straight in an instant.
My mother was in the dining room folding diapers when I rushed in the front door. “Mom, will you help me write a letter to Santa?” I breathlessly asked. “I need to tell him what I want for Christmas.”
“I am sorry to tell you that there is no Santa Claus,” said Mom, a pained look on her face. She was quiet, then added, “There isn’t an Easter Bunny, either. Parents buy those gifts.”
Crushed, I turned, and headed for the back door, ready to race to the barn.
Mom called out, “Fay, I have to tell you the truth to save you from further heartbreak.”
I looked back and saw her arms reaching out to wrap me in a hug. I kept on running until I buried myself in a pile of fragrant hay. Questions tumbled around in my mind. My tender heart could find no answers. From that day forward, I forget about the possibility of anyone gifting me toys. Eighty years later, I still see the two of us rooted in that moment like splinters of glass in hard dirt.
Until Cheryl pulled me into her story. Drowning in that emotional moment, a quiet idea drifted into my psyche. I don’t need anyone to gift me a bear. I can buy one for myself. Over time, a profound shift in my thinking took hold. I did not need to be a helpless victim; I could make choices.
I began my search by finding out why some stuffed bears are called Teddy Bears. President Theodore Roosevelt, a renowned game hunter, refused to shoot a bear that had been tied to a tree. The event was satirized in a newspaper cartoon that caught the eye of a Brooklyn couple who created a stuffed animal called Teddy’s Bear. The toy captured people’s imaginations and became a childhood favorite.
I launched into a year-long search. I didn’t know what the just-right bear would look like. I did know I would recognize him immediately.
A close friend offered to buy a Teddy Bear for me, as did my daughter, who had had many stuffed animals when she was little. I turned down their offers. I had to find my own bear.
My friend did help me find the bear that was meant for me. When she came to visit, she wanted to tour Universal Studios in Los Angeles. At the end of an exhausting day, I found my adorable Teddy Bear in a gift shop on the grounds. Not too big and not too small. He was expensive—and worth it.
Each morning Teddy Bear greets me, arms open wide. He reminds me that broken hearts are mendable.

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