Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bears and the Newest Bear

Those who know me know that we lost our son, Steve, December 2008 and it was/is rough.  But, June Benton, a friend here in MN who "moonlights" as a grief counselor, turned me onto Cathy Schrader, an angel who lives in West Virginia and  who makes memorial  teddy bears.  Somehow  we had saved and brought to MN one of Steve's flannel shirt jackets.  Ahh, would this work?  I could not bring myself to do anything with it.  So I contacted Cathy who can be reached through her website. After emails back and forth she agreed it would work and so I mailed the shirt/jacket off to her with no deadline in mind.  Cathy is an angel with this ministry, she attaches a personalized bookmark with each bear and being me, I wanted to select my own scripture verses; not a  problem for Cathy. She does not know that I am blogging her, but if anyone  loses a loved one, or would just enjoy a unique  commemorative bear, save some good clothing and think about getting a bear. She also  has her own fabrics.  You can contact Cathy through her website which is http://www.websterartists.com/  or by email at cathschrader@hotmail.com  An AWON friend in Cincinnati says they also make memory bears for homeless  shelters, etc.  So maybe in your area there is a talented bear maker, maybe it's you.

50 Cent Rocker from 1964
 I don't know how our bear collection started but it was not intentional, just one of those things that took on a life of its own. Beginning in CA in 1965, every year at Christmas I had a collection of teddy bears to display in a child's wooden rocker that I bought in 1964 for 50 cents when I was pregnant with Steve.  The bears sat in the rocker near the Christmas tree guarding presents and Steve grew up believing that they would know and tell if he peeked.  He believed that until he was about 11 years old when he challenged the bears' ability; what left him wondering was somehow Mom found out and he kept a wary eye on them vacillating between a child's belief and skepticism; in later years he always got a good laugh out of the bear guard  presiding around the  Christmas tree.  Today that 50 cent rocker has some bears and a loose squirrel  and occupies the corner of our study, moved from CA, just one of those things with provenance I thought a keeper; many youngsters have sat in it  from Steve to nieces to visitors to grand kids and it's still rockin'.

Cinnamon Blondie and Lou The RV Travelin'Bears
 I"ve learned to refer to "our bear collection"  because Jerry is quite possessive of several bears, primarily Lou, whom Jerry calls "Bear."  Mary Ann, my Louisiana. pal presented him to me for my 60th birthday, he's soft and large and  a big brown bear who has resided in the motor homes ever since.  He and Jerry have become best pals because they made several trips together back and forth form CA to MN, over the years.  Jerry considers Bear the ultimate traveling companion who merely sits and agrees with whatever's happening as long as the coach moves.  Then Aunt Jinx added Blondie to the mix, a bear she obtained somewhere and decided should go on the road!  Then we found Cinnamon in Bemidji, MN  for a dollar  a few years ago, and the 3 traveling bears were complete.  It took Lou a bit to accept this because he was king of the road for so long, but now the  3 bears travel happily though Lou does insist on sitting up front on passenger's lap so he can see the sights. You will notice he sports an array of pins on his ribbon signifying different places and events to which he travels.  This Irritated Blondie who then had to have a necklace and  something to pin on her ribbon, leaving  Cinnamon to begin to collect only bear and flag pins.  Lou has mentioned that this winter he would appreciate my sewing or quilting a vest  so that he can add more pins over the next years.   By the way the three bears hibernate in the motor home over winter and are looking forward to a trip south this winter...

Curly and Bump Bump
Another addition to the bear collection came about  1980 when Sandy was into ceramics and made Bump Bump for me back when I  was still in my career daze!  Bump Bump  came with her  head bandaged and a sign that said, "There must be an easier way to go down the stairs.." alluding to my life of frustration  in the bureaucracy. 

When my best friend Roberta died in CA and I inherited some of her jewelry, among the collection was a Black Hills Gold teddy bear necklace and earrings.  Bear things were beginning to enter or lives. 

Burden Bear with his own quilt and bear
Today besides the Christmas bears, we have the patriot bears who guard the patriots' bedroom.   These characters have patrolled and secured the perimeters of the room since we moved in 2005 and had a room to decorate appropriately with red, white and blue.  They were quite comfortable atop the twin daybed and the quilt I made for it until they caught wind of  my and Sandy's plans for that room.  I  would inherit an antique colonial sleigh bed from PA and back about 2006 Sandy and I began to develop plans for what she would hand quilt for that room.    

The patriots expected and anticipated the  quilt  and were not saying too much, but they began to agitate about the quilt that Sandy was making in CA as they eavesdropped on our phone conversations. It didn't matter that they had a  beautiful hand  quilted antique  poppy coverlet that also came from PA.

 They began to sputter their impatience periodically and I would have to admonish them that things of  beauty take time. 

They  were not having any of it and  would go on the march after they heard me on the phone with Sandy; they even made up their own song, "Oh Where, O Bear,  has my new quilt been;  oh how much  longer will it be?  With the winters so cold and the bed so long, O why won't she send it to me?"  They were one ecstatic chorus of bears when the Salute of Roses Quilt arrived!  And  by now you are questioning if I have any sanity remaining or if I ever had any!

It didn't help that Burden Bear, a gift from Sandy in 2007,  had joined them and tried to pray and engage them in services;  they allowed him to be there because he is light blue, but the Patriots are more inclined to action than quiet prayer.  They were somewhat in awe of Burden Bear who brought his own little  quilt that matched the one I'd made when the twin daybed occupied the room. 

Sleigh bed with antique coverlet, Patriot Bears in Patriotic Room


Patriot Bears with Salute of Roses Quilt
They are very particular who enters their area, which is why Col. Wally who came with his own  box of sytrofoam peanuts as a starter kit for me, another story, was given a post  at the counter by the laptop, his presence would not have melded with them, he was grey and they even considered him to be a rebel.  But then Col Wally has been known to bring himself to the party when a beverage or treats attract him and his post right close on the kitchen counter, overseeing the laptop suits him just fine.  
Col Wally gets ready to party
  But bear with me, as I get back to the purpose of this post,  the new bear here, SteveO Bear.  

My head and Steveo Bear's, self photo

Jerry knew I had commissioned SteveO and was not commenting, at times wary of what to say or not trying to avoid any bad memories and upsets for either of us when Steve comes up.  This bear is SteveO unless Jerry renames him; our son and his friends had a strange habit of  adding an O to their  names, so the new guy bears that!  When the box arrived, Jerry who always gets the mail and packages, opened it and  had his own tears which he admitted later; he posed SteveO bear crawling out of the box so I could see him when I came into the kitchen.  It was love at first sight as Steveo Bear jumped up to give me a big hug.  Of course there were tears, but he is beyond my expectations, the workmanship is superb,  a magnificent bear which I am sure you will agree. His eyes are buttons from the shirt jacket and his collar is tied with the grey cord from the hood of the shirt.  

  Here is a photo of him meeting the patriots who promptly assigned him to  the foot of the bed.  But he is patient and is making his way slowly but surely and being a big guy he is comfortable at the foot of the bed  with the pillows which the patriot bears had likewise relegated there.    He makes me smile because he is a bit overstuffed and Steve was the same, a big guy!  The Patriots are not  taking any chances though with his size, they determined he could not overpower them!

SteveO meets the Patriot Guard

Steveo Bear at the foot of the bed
In addition to the bear, I had ordered some Christmas balls through Cathy which  arrived and are of such excellent workmanship; they are for  3 of Steve's friends this Christmas.  I don't know what I was expecting, but to say I am pleased is an understatement.  These are made  by a different person but Cathy can arrange that too.  Here are some photos and the name of the creator on the label at the bottom. 

Top of Christmas Ball

Side  of Christmas Ball

This is the label from the Christmas ball

I have lots to do around here and so what am I doing, blogging?   There is a new stack of  more old family photos  from Jerry's mother's things to  scan; she is now in the nursing home in town and we are engaged in clearing out her apartment.  I am really getting weary of emptying homes when the elderly  need to be moved or pass on.  Fortunately her accumulation is nothing like  my aunt's home  nor my Uncles' which still awaits us in PA.  Our trip had to be delayed now with Jerry's mother's decline, and the recall notice from Workhorse on our motor home. Wouldn't you know the  RV repair shop can't get to us until October 5; well that's not so far away now.  After that we should be heading east to arrange winter  needs for Uncle's home.  

This has been my answer to Goldilocks and the  3 Bears and an effort for the Story Tellers blog, which link is not working right now....Once I fix that I know you will want to link to them too!  Hah  here it is, try this...asouthernbellewithenorthernroots



  1. Loss is so forever and we do what we need to do to make it into that next day or that next year. Remembering him through that bear is precious. He would probably be please to see an older jacket was turned into this work of art. I didn't loose my son, but I still have his sports jacket that I keep around and will never throw away. I sometime wear it in the winter and I don't miss him as much.
    You have some very beautiful quilts and things.

  2. This is so amazing. Hi, I am Angie the maker of the Memory Ornaments. Your story has brought tears to my eyes. I was honored to make the ornaments in memory of Steve and now I have a face to put with these.
    Love and Prayers,
    Kountry Kreations

  3. thank you for linking to Story tellers. So sorry for the loss of your son, such a devastating time.
    Hope you return, your sepia posts look like a good story to tell also.
    You are set up as a no reply blogger so I couldn't email you. I would appreciate if you should link again a link back to storytellers. If you are unsure how to do that let me know, I do plan on putting up a few link tips this next week. It is the only way to spread the word and link parties work best when others know about them. Have a wonderful week. Thanks again.

  4. Thanks Larry, can ususally count on you for encourageing words.

    Angie, good to see you here.

    I have also linked this post to Story Tellers because although I didn't start as "let me tell you a story.." I think it is one and my version of the Three Bears or more.

  5. It's a treat to find your blog, Pat. I think your bear saga is definitely a fine story. I love SteveO, and I'm sure he'll fit in with your menagerie of bears. He looks like a born leader to me.

    I've got some bears around here too. But they're short on attitude compared to your collection.

    Thanks for joining the story group!

  6. Pat, I love this story. I think Steveo in red plaid is just perfect! I don't think you could have picked a better fabric if you had bolts of fabric from which to select. My bears do not have nearly the personality that yours have! Fun post! laurie

  7. That was beautiful! I would have never thought of making a teddy bear or an orniment out of a jacket or peice of clothing as a memorial. I think it's hradest to let go of the personal items of the ones you love, like their clothes (my nana still has almost all of my grandfathers things and it's been 5 years). Maybe I can suggest this to her. That you for sharing!

  8. Pat, this is the ultimate of spectacular!!! Your finest hour? Probably not, as I know you are still full of wonderment. Oh, the bears sent a little song along with your article:

    " To know, know, know Pat, is to love, love her and we do" Now I wonder where they got that!!!

    Hugs, ol' girl,
    Sandy S.