By Patricia Twitchell
Autumn of ’89 began like any other. Summer was quickly coming to a close as winter crept in. Like most years, the family was anxiously anticipating sharing the holidays together.
Although each year became a bit more difficult due to the miles that kept us physically apart, in our hearts we remained close. What I have always cherished most about time with my family is the laughter and the enjoyment of simple things.
Amazingly, even that which we appreciate we often take for granted. Without realizing it, I took for granted that my mother and father, in their early sixties in ‘89, would be around for years to come. Years that in a moment seemed to be ripped from my reality.
It was late on a Monday night in September of that year when I got the dreaded call. “If you want to see your father alive, you must come quickly.” Those words rang in my head as I carelessly tossed cloths into a bag. My reasoning was such that a tattered grocery bag would suffice as my luggage.
My reasoning was also such that rather than immediately get on the road, I felt compelled to bake my father his favorite cookies. Although I had been told he was in a coma as a result of a massive cardiac arrest, I was convinced my cookies would be the magic formula to bring him around.
As I drove late into the night, memories of long ago danced in my head. Memories of times shared with my father who, although a pillar in my life, now lay lifeless in a hospital bed. Glancing frequently at the plate of cookies that were placed carefully on the seat behind me, I tearfully wondered if I would ever see my father alive again.
The shock of seeing my father hooked up to countless monitors and machines was almost beyond belief. And yet, what my sisters and I quickly realized was the devastation my mother was experiencing. The three of us wondered if our parents would have the opportunity to celebrate their 40th anniversary together.
With no obvious change over the next few days, my sisters, mother and I found comfort in each others arms. Strangely, we also found comfort by bringing each other cuddly stuffed animals. Within days, my mother’s collection of teddy bears grew and grew.
It was as if each bear held a special meaning to her and brought what little comfort could be experienced as she diligently watched her husband lay in his own world of a coma.
After weeks of praying for the near impossible, my father slowly began to regain consciousness. Knowing a miracle had taken place, for the next few months we were thrilled at each baby step my father took in his recovery.
Having to undergo massive heart surgery to repair some of the damage, my father kept a few close companions near his bedside as he recouped from his wounds. The very teddy bears my mother found comfort in while my father was on his “vacation” were the bears he now found comfort in.
As I prepare for the holiday season this year, I wonder how much of an impact my father’s heart attack and all the experiences that went with it had on my decision to fulfill a lifelong dream.
For years, I had a secret desire to open a teddy bear store so I could share the feelings teddy bears had given me when I went through a very painful divorce. A feeling of comfort that somehow only the “right” bear can bring. The same type of comfort teddy bears brought to my mother, my father, my sisters and me in the autumn of ’89. The same type of comfort I now have the opportunity to share with others on a daily basis.
With my father’s experience now years behind, I am once again anticipating sharing a holiday season with my mother and father who are soon going to be celebrating 57 years of marriage. Often my folks come to visit me during the holidays, as it is a very busy time of year. What with all the gift wrapping for the many people who come from all over the country to experience the unique teddy bear store that was once only a dream.
I have learned life is about having the courage to live our dreams. It is in the willingness to do what we are destined to do we have the opportunity to bring comfort, joy, laughter and love to the lives of others.
If the only lesson I learned during the autumn of ’89 is how precious life is, I will forever be grateful. It is because of that lesson I am gifted with the opportunity to often help select just the right teddy bear for someone who is in need of comfort. Other times, it is to select a bear that is meant to bring joy, or express love, or gratitude, or just because…. because teddy bears make the world a little better one bear at a time.
About the author:
About the author Patricia Twitchell is the proprietor of Just Bears and Stuff, a unique gift shop located in Myrtle Creek, Oregan. Nestled in the scenic mountains is a favorite place to visit from people all over the country. Receive “Beary Special Moments” a free online teddy bear facts and tips e-zine by visiting www.justbearsandstuff.com