During the first few years of my life, we always spent Christmas at grandma’s house, on a farm near Bradford, Illinois. Each Christmas eve, we’d drive the gravel roads some eighteen miles from my home town, Kewanee, and always made it. Some years the snow drifts were taller than our car. It was always cold in the upstairs bedroom where Grandma put us. One particular Christmas, when I was two years old, I remember vividly coming down the open stairway into the living room. In my pajamas with feet I slowly crept down, step by step, wide-eyed in anticipation. Then, I spotted him under the tree, with his red felt tongue sticking out at me. Teddy! The object of my first registered memory. And, how cool is it that I still have him. The picture of Teddy you see was taken just minutes before I started writing this story.
Little did I know that Teddy would become my first best friend, travel thousands of miles with me, and eventually retire in Arizona. It’s a miracle he survived all this time. But, he still looks pretty good. I chewed his red felt tongue off the day after Christmas. A couple of years later, Teddy’s eyes fell off, so my mother sewed a couple of buttons on for eyes. He still sees pretty well with those button eyes. When Teddy was about eight years old, his left arm fell off. My mom sewed it back on, but accidentally fastened it on backwards. By that time, Mom’s eyesight was not the best. I didn’t have the heart to tell her, so I waited until she got a bit older, and her eyes got even worse, before I amputated Teddy’s arm and sewed it back on properly. He could again, with a little help, quietly applaud when amused.
As I’ve written in earlier stories, we traveled a lot when I was a kid, and Teddy traveled right along. He has been to almost every state. He especially loved riding up in the back window of the car, and going on trains. Surprisingly, he was never left behind. Well, maybe not so surprising. Anyway, he’s still around. Before you ask, “How come an old guy like you still has a Teddy bear who’s almost as old as you,” take a look at the picture of Teddy. You can see love in those button eyes. They reflect the love of the wonderful mom who sewed them on so long ago. Look at his rumpled fur. The result of having traveled so many places over many years, just to tag along and be a friend.
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