Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Bear in Mind

We could never have loved the earth so well if we had had no childhood in it.

-George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss, 1860

I am acquainted with a grey polar bear named Bruno; he is at least forty years old, eyeless, one-armed and lacking most of his inner stuffing. He has been handed down from generation to generation; of all his owners I have kept him the longest- more than twenty years of my life.
At five, when I had to have surgery on my eyes, Bruno went with me. My mother recalls that after my operation she was standing in an elevator, on her way to see me, when a bed was wheeled in. She did not recognise the eye-patched child on the gurney but immediately saw a familiar face peeking from under the child's arm: Bruno had, in a kindly gesture by the nurses, been equipped with eye patches as well.
His eyes have long since fallen out but he was my kindred spirit for that time and of course his presence was the only way that my mother knew it was I being wheeled out of surgery.
Bruno has lived in California and Texas; he is here with us yet and I do not intend to part with him.
My brother did not quite comprehend my fondness for the polar bear, however, and a terrible misunderstanding ensued last summer.
I had remarked to my mother that Spouse and I ought to clear and declutter our home more fiercely. Bruno fell, somehow, into the conversation and my mother misunderstood.
A short while later, my brother and mother, both in Ireland, were talking and he brought up the subject of the well-travelled bear. My mother relayed that I had been planning to dispose of Bruno during a clean up, if he were not already consigned to the dump.
My brother was dismayed and rattled by the suggestion that I no longer cared for the ragged bear. Alas, my mother did not think to mention the incident to me for a long while afterward and it was only during her visit in September to see Spouse and I that the fact became clear. My brother had been too sad to mention the tragic loss of Bruno and I had not known of his mistaken suspicions.
When I understood my mother had implied that Bruno was gone, I was furious with her. I had to remedy the situation immediately and I telephoned my brother to let him know.
My brother did not believe me. He did not say so but I got the distinct impression that he believed Bruno to be lost forever.
I sat Bruno down on our couch, propped a local, current newspaper beside him, placed a boldly-written sign by the threadbare leg: "I'M OKAY! - BRUNO," took a digital photograph and sent it to my brother.
He was enormously pleased to hear the news of Bruno's wellbeing and excited to see the old fellow after so many years.
Bruno may have lost the majority of his physical stuffing but he is full of old memories- and he is worth one thousand bears that never kept me company in surgery.


Beth said...

I have my 24 year old son's stuffed puppy (his constant companion as a little one) tucked away in my room waiting for the time when the next generation is ready for him.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

I hope he will be fully appreciated when the time is right- the puppy surely has a good history for you to tell about!

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