Monday, April 14, 2014

The Bygone-Era Bear -- Writing Down Memories

Many people write memoirs. This is not to same as writing an autobiography though. An autobiography is an all-encompassing and generally time progressed account of one's life. A memoir can be short or long and recount a single event or thought or a series of connected events. I started thinking of this topic when I was looking at an old friend a couple of days ago.

I have known him for most of my life and he has been my most constant supporter for all of those years. He is a wonderful listener, great at mopping up tears, and he is never stingy on the hugs. I am, of course, talking about my toy bear. His name is Pooh (but not Winnie-the). He is named in honor of that very famous bear of very little brain.

Yes, I still have my bear. He still hangs out on my bed, although he has been relegated to the foot of the bed rather than the head. He is the head of a whole group of bears that have entered my life in years since. There is the bear I was given after surgery years ago to help me cough. And the bear I received on a job for a job well done. Bears that were gifts from friends. They are his posse and keep him company while I am busy being an adult.

He is old. Very old. Most of his tongue has worn away, part of his plastic nose is missing, there is a splotch of blue paint on the back of his head. Dear Pooh has been through numerous surgeries as I have mended the areas were his fur has worn out. He definitively has that Velveteen Rabbit thing going on. There is a little patch of fabric under his tail that is as new as the day he came out of that ugly Christmas box that was yellow with red figures on it.

My pairing with him was brought about by my godparents (the first set, I had two pair) after my first bear had died tragically in a vomiting incident. That was back in the days when stuffed animals were not washable. It had been a horrible few months during which I had tried to transfer this relationship to other stuffed animals to no avail. When this Pooh arrived (basically he is really Pooh Too) it was love at first sight and we have been together ever since.

Perhaps part of the reason that I was so drawn to thinking of Pooh so hard in the past couple of days is because my godmother passed away recently after a lengthy battle with Parkinson's Disease. I haven't seen her or her husband in many years, but through the best toy I have ever owned they were always a part of my life.

Why do I still hang on to this piece of the past? Because he has been such an important part of my life. I was an only child and he was the closest thing I had to a sibling. It embarrassed my grandparents to know end when I would drag him along to go out to dinner and then insisted the he also have a booster seat to sit in. My mother allowed it because she knew how bored I would be during dinner with four adults.

Pooh was the only emotional support I had during my parent's divorce and nasty custody battle. He was there for me when my mother went back to work and I spent long hours alone. He was always there for everything. Now that my parents have both passed away and I never married or had children, he is still a strong constant in my life. I may no longer need to hold on to him to sleep, or talk my problems over with him, but he is a bit of reliability and stability in my life. Just seeing him spending his retirement years at the foot of my bed gives me a feeling of emotional security.

Pooh has always supported my dreams, both realistic and foolish. He kept me company through my early writing attempts and never tried to talk me out of my dreams of being a writer. For a short time I tried to turn his life into a story -- in it he drove a VW Bug and lived in a house on a corner. While that tale never took off, he didn't take that personally. He has never told me to lose weight, or find a boyfriend, or wear more (or less) makeup. He always accepted me just the way I am. Writer's warts and all.

There. That was a tiny memoir. Now what are you remembering these days?

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