When I was younger and more naive and Mr. P was on his mission, my mother got a request from him to buy a teddy-bear and give it to me as a gift for Christmas in his name. It was a lovely, fluffy, cream-colored bear with a pink tongue that stuck out in a kind of U-shape. It was squashy and had a lovely red ribbon around it’s neck.
Since I was still stupidly convinced that I was in love with Mr. P, I named the bear Mylo, for MY LOve.
Later on, Mr. P and I broke up, I got rid of everything he gave me. Pictures- gone. Letters- burned. Jewelry- trashed. Assorted other items- bagged.
I went through a veritable orgy of getting rid of his memory…
Until I came to the bear.
I’d had the bear for more than four years by then, it had become “him” and I didn’t want to give him up, so I adjusted his name (Mylo = Milo), deciding that he could be named for the main character in the Phantom Tollbooth and to only remember that my mother had bought him for me.
I loved that bear so much. The ribbon went the way of all the earth, but the bear I kept and finger-knitted a new tie for him.
Shortly thereafter, I made a mistake. I laundered him. Washing him worked… okay. Putting him in the dryer, however, was the worst thing I could have done. His fur became matted and all his stuffing moved into his head, his arms and his legs. His torso became quite flat as a result.
Several more years passed, I married jaklumen and had my two children and the bear was still part of my life. When I reached my 45th birthday, Boy was playing with him and accidentally snapped his nose off.
Four days ago, I was looking at my poor bear, that I still sleep with every night and realizing how old he was, how worn out he seemed with his matted fur and his missing nose and some logical part of my brain said it might be time to throw him away.
And I couldn’t do it.
My children came into the bedroom to find me crying over Milo and clutching his worn-out body to my breast as if he had just died.
“Mom, why are you crying?” my daughter asked, alarmed.
“Milo is old,” I said softly, tears streaming from my eyes, “and I think it’s time to get rid of him.” This thought made the ache in my heart all the stronger, and I added in a wail, “but I can’t do it.” I cuddled him more firmly to me, as if afraid that someone would take him away.
“Who says you have to get rid of him?” asked my daughter, in a practical voice. “Why can’t you just re-stuff him?”
I blinked in surprise. Why hadn’t I thought of that. After all, Milo might be old, but he wasn’t falling apart, yet.
So, my kids accompanied me to the local Walmart to buy a large bag of Poly-fil polyester fiber fill and a large black button. My daughter told me on the way there that if I died before he fell apart, she would take him and make sure he was taken care of. Strangely, that made me feel better.
Then, yesterday morning, after two nights of sleeping without him because I didn’t want to damage him any further, I gathered him up and brought him out to the family room. My daughter looked up and saw me with Milo over one arm.
Her eyebrows went up.
“It’s time,” I explained. With that, I got the tall kitchen garbage can and was about to cut my precious teddy bear open when I saw, or rather smelled, that the can was filled with my son’s used up sleep diapers.
Once again I had an emotional discussion within myself: the logical side insisting that the pee smell now emanating from the can didn’t matter, the emotional side just as vociferously insisting that putting Milo’s fluff in that dirty can would not be right, somehow. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t find it in myself to argue. I took out the not-really-full garbage can liner and replaced it with a fresh one.
Then I made an incision with the kitchen shears and began taking out Milo’s old, rumpled stuffing. It took a while. Some part of me kept saying that I had to be really careful. Once all the old stuffing was out, I hugged him again, turned him completely inside-out to be sure I had it all, then turned him back right-side-in, and put him in the washer on the delicate cycle with some Woolite and about half a load of towels.
Finally, I hung him upside down for about an hour on a small piece of cotton clothesline by the front door. When he was completely dry, I had a look at the button I’d bought. It was FAR too big. Instead, I dug into my sewing kit and chose a black one with a brass finish and a loop at the back and sewed that into place instead. Then I started re-stuffing him.
It was so strange and yet so familiar re-stuffing my bear. I felt just as I would feel if I was doctoring some hurt or illness for one of my children. I had to work to make sure I wasn’t putting too much filling in the arms and legs or not enough filling in the head or the torso. Then, when he was completely stuffed and fat again, I proceeded to sew him up again. I think I used up about a half a bag of the Poly-fil and, granted, Milo still isn’t as fluffy as he was when I first received him, but I feel so happy to be able to hold him again. I just can’t stop cuddling him.
I’m so glad he’s fat and cuddly again. Thank you, my dear daughter, for helping me save him.
- Question Time: Is there some toy that you still have from a long time ago that you could never give up? Have you ever gotten emotional over such a toy? Am I the only adult, other than my own husband, that still sleeps with a teddy bear? Talk to me! I really want to know!
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