Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pooh Bear

For Christmas of 1955, when I was three-years-old, Santa Claus brought me a teddy bear that was as almost as big as I was tall. I was amazed at my good fortune, and smiled with pride when anyone would remark: “My goodness! That bear is about as big as you are!”

But that’s all I remember about “the bear that is big as me” because it was lost when we moved from Oklahoma to Illinois that next June.

When my dad graduated from Oklahoma State’s veterinary school in 1956, he landed a job working for another veterinarian in Pontiac, Illinois. That summer, my family of five set out for new adventures.

We had one car and not much money, so my parents packed up all our belongings in the car and a small trailer. The plan was that my dad would drive the car to Illinois and my mom, my two brothers, and I would follow on the train.

Somewhere en route, my dad had a car accident on Route 66 and was thrown from the car. He was not badly hurt, but the car was wrecked. Dad took all our stuff out of the car before it was hauled off to the junkyard—or so he thought. But when I asked about my bear, it was nowhere to be found. I had placed it in the back seat of the car, and all anyone could imagine was that the impact of the accident had pushed it under the seat out of sight. I couldn’t understand how a “bear that is big as me” could be lost, but there you have it.

I wailed, I cried, I thrust out my lip in a heart-broken pout, and I refused to be consoled—until my older brother, Curt intervened.

“Here, Laura, you can have Pooh,” he said, and handed me the little golden-colored teddy bear that he had received when he was about my age. The A.A. Milne tales of Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin were favorites of Curt’s in his early years, and he had aptly named his teddy for the lovable “silly old bear” in the stories.

Maybe Curt thought that a seven-year-old boy was too grown up to have a teddy bear any longer, or maybe he just wanted to coax a wailing sister into quieting down. But whatever the reason, his generosity shocked me into grateful silence.

Pooh became my treasured companion. Thereafter, I slept with Pooh bear every night, and when I occasionally would awake, trembling, with a nightmare and creep into my parents’ bed, Pooh would come along. In the morning, I often would discover that Pooh’s little black nose had fallen out from his snout, and my mother and I would search through the bed sheets and blankets until we found it. No amount of gluing ever seemed to permanently secure Pooh’s nose in place.

Today, Pooh has an honored spot on the bed in our guestroom. He has been to camps and to college; he  has lived in dorms, apartments, and houses in fourteen cities or towns in eight states. 

After more than fifty years, Pooh surely has paid witness to many things, but the sweetest would still be a big brother’s generosity.


  1. So sweet!!! Your objet d'art lived up to the challenge of comforting you. I've just been thinking about how, alas, I never really had one of those. In my learning of the Buddhist way of nonattachment, I think I went too far that way, not putting stock in too much out of fear of . . . I don't know . . . loss? disappointment? In any event, this story has reminded me that treasuring is important to happiness. Thank you!

  2. Wonderfully touching. Reminds me of a stuffed bear my father bought for my daughter. My dad has been gone for almost 20 years and my dayghter is gown. Bear lives with me now as he's too old and tired to travel much anymore.