Thursday, February 2, 2012

Teddy: My First Fan, My Constant Companion

I'm not Linus. I don't carry a security blanket, but I do keep a brown teddy bear that I've had since infancy. I love this teddy bear. His name is Teddy. Okay, I wasn't particulary original with that one, but, hey, he's been with me since before I was born... It's not like my naming skills were at the top of their game when he entered my life!

A family friend, Jean Wright, bought Teddy for me before I was born. I slept with Teddy. I played with him. I tossed him in a toy box. I ignored him. Eventually, somone in my family, probably Mom, stored him in the attic in a box with a bunch of other stuffed animals and dolls. I remember when I found him as a teenager. He'd been in the attic for years. I almost cried as I hugged him to me. I felt like a little girl. I didn't understand why he evoked that emotion in me, and I still don't. Perhaps it was because I loved Jean so much. She was a wonderful, kind, sweet, loving soul who always treated me like I was special. Maybe some of that infiltrated her gift to me...

Over the years, I cried into Teddy's fur, snuggled him close to me, slept with him, buried my head in his belly, and danced with him. I told him stories before I could write. I sang him songs I made up. I read him my poetry and my stories. Though he couldn't reply. I like to think he was my first fan. After all, he never criticized my efforts. But then again he never complained about my singing either, and I really can't sing. Forget waterboarding, just have me sing, they'll talk. Yes, I sing that badly.


Teddy & Me 1990 Combs Hall,
Eastern Kentucky University
 Teddy accompanied me to college. He sat on my bed or sometimes in a small wooden child's chair. His outstretched arms always looked ready to give a hug. He watched as I made friends and lost friends. He sat silently while I studied and wrote papers. He never judged when I partied too hard, drank too much, laughed too loud, or played too late. He never demanded any attention when I needed to concentrate. He listened to my dreams no matter how outrageous. He watched me give my heart away and get it returned shattered.  He listened I broke a heart or two and then buried my face in a pillow and sobbed. He stared straight ahead as I suffered the worst betrayal of my life. He probably wished he could close his eyes that time. I know I wish he could've. But he never left. Okay, you're right, he's a stuffed animal, he didn't have a choice, but I don't care. He's been a constant my entire life.

He may not have fought off the boogie-man or kept me safe from the monsters, but he was there. He never blamed me, scolded me, or told me I wasn't enough. He never betrayed me. He never minded when I ignored him in pursuit of ambition or even dreams. He never got jealous of my other relationships. He never complained that I squeezed him too tight or made him too hot. He never pushed me away. He never turned his back on me. He never got mad when I pushed him out of the bed. He laid right there when I had nightmares that left me shaking so hard I thought I might come apart.When I cried tears into his soft belly night after night, he soaked up those tears allowing me to face the next day with confidence.

He stayed with me through those college years and joined me when I got married. My husband complained that I sometimes brought him into our bed when I was hurting or scared. But he didn't get it. Teddy was a constant. He grounded me to the girl I once was - innocent and carefree and capable of laughter. Teddy held all my tears inside him. He never broke a confidence. He never told me I was stupid for feeling the way I did. He never told me to grow up. He never questioned my needs or my love. He simply sat there with his brown eyes staring straight ahead and arms stretched out inviting a hug. We fought over Teddy. I won.


Teddy Today
 Or rather, I compromised. I rarely sleep with Teddy these days. He lived under my bed for a while. His chair went to charity, so some other child could enjoy it. Teddy now sits in my laundry room where he makes me smile every day. He always looks ready to give a hug. I love that he sits with his arms outstretched though come to think of it, they must get incredibly tired.

When Jean died a couple of years ago, I sat in the floor of my laundry room, held Teddy, and cried into his fur. He once again absorbed my tears, so I could let go of the pain in my heart. Yet he didn't give empty platitudes or question my grief. He just absorbed it into his soft, furry body.

Teddy makes me smile. He reminds me of all I can be. He reminds me of all I've survived. He reminds me of my dreams, my friends, my family, my self. He asks nothing from me as he sits there awaiting the next time I come to him for a hug.

So, I don't care if I am an adult. Teddy stays. Teddy lives where I live. I don't give up people or things that make me smile these days. Not that anyone would dare suggest it...

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