Ninety-seven years ago, a little baby was born. Someone gave him a teddy bear.
This wasn’t too long after President Teddy Roosevelt had refused to shoot an old black bear on a hunting expedition. That act of tenderness inspired a lady who made her living making stuffed animals to sew the first toy bear. It quickly became all the rage for children. She created one of the best-loved and most widespread “must-have’s” of childhood, named after that beloved president: the teddy bear.
Back to the new little baby boy 97 years ago. Because his nickname was already “Teddy,” the family named his toy bear “Edward Bear.”
The boy and Edward Bear were inseparable during the Roaring Twenties as the boy grew into a man. He loved his Edward Bear, took him on adventures and travels to places like Evanston, Ill., and even made sure he accompanied him and his new bride on his honeymoon to Arizona. Here’s a picture to prove it. They put him in a tree for a whimsical pose:
After a while, along came another new baby boy – the son of the original owner of Edward Bear. Naturally, the humble little toy was transferred from father to son.
And that’s how my friend Doug became Edward Bear’s new best friend.
Doug remembers having the bear with him at all times. He remembers holding him while his parents read him all of the old Winnie the Pooh stories. Edward Bear was right there beside him, every step of the way. He saw it all and heard it all, but never complained or criticized.
Who knows how many tears Edward Bear dried? How many secrets were whispered to him? Who knows how many times he was lost under the bed, or thrown to the floor, or dropped in a puddle, or tucked into an overnight bag to spend the night away from home, to be reserved for late-night reassurance and hugs?
Doug doesn’t remember how Edward Bear lost his eye or got those rips. He’s a quasi-amputee with one of Doug’s old baby socks for a leg, added in the 1960s. Duct tape holds the other leg together.
But to Doug, Edward Bear is beautiful. Always has been. Always will be.
Loving parents, good stories, a teddy bear for a best friend – what more do you need?
Well, the years marched on. Doug’s father died, and then his mother passed away. About six months later, her old furniture was getting loaded up onto a truck to be auctioned off. Too late, Doug realized that Edward Bear must have been in one of those old drawers!
He made a phone call, his heart pounding.
He was in luck! Edward Bear was found, and returned.
Everybody understood why it was important to reunite the old toy with its longtime owner.
Today, the end of Doug’s own story is in the not-too-distant future. It’s hopefully still decades off, but inevitable nonetheless.
And this is what I find so touching:
Doug has made arrangements in his will to have Edward Bear cremated along with him. He couldn’t stand the thought of his dear friend ending up in a dumpster somewhere.
Edward Bear will reside for eternity with Doug and his dear Mum and Dad up in Omaha’s Forest Lawn Cemetery. The sweetness and tenderness of that plan make me smile. And it struck me:
Old toys and old friends are just like Jesus. They may take a beating, but mysteriously they become more beautiful, not less. We may neglect them or abuse them or forget about them for a while. But the love they stand for will always be with us. Always faithful, always true, always comforting, always on your side . . . no wonder you want to be with them for all eternity. †
. . . (T)here is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
— Proverbs 18:24b
(NOTE: This new story is not among the 100 in my book, “Radiant Beams,” available on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com, but it might be in the sequel!)
By Susan Darst Williams • www.TheDailySusan.com • Under 21 • © 2017