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Life's Inspirational Short Stories


A Tangled Tale of Teddy Bears
Article by Helen Dowd

Before I had a computer I had a word processor, and in 1992, I began to write poetry. I would print out the poems then pepper my friends and family, far and wide, with them. No one seemed to object, but after awhile I ran out of friends to send my poems to. One of the poems I wrote and sent out was one called, "Teddy Bears," found at the end of this story.

Okay. That Teddy Bear Poem bounced around from here to there, and seemed to bring pleasure to a lot of people. Then I got the surprise of my life. I got an E-mail from someone I had never heard of before. She told me about a man and his wife, John and Hazel, who had started a tradition of making Teddy Bears, not to sell, but to bring comfort. At first they made the Teddy Bears for friends and family, but like me, they soon ran out of folks to make their bears for.

John called the bears he and his wife made, "Hazel's Bears," as she is the one who began the project. However, Hazel became ill with blindness and soon after, with Alzheimer's. That's when the idea came to John to turn his Teddy Bear project into bringing comfort for the ill and invalid.

One day a friend of John's handed him my poem, "Teddy Bears." He read the poem to Hazel. It brought her such joy that John got the idea that he would like to attach the Teddy Bear poem, to every Bear they made. His wife died in April 2002, but John still carries on.

John works as a volunteer at the Museum in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, and he mentioned his idea of attaching the poem, "Teddy Bears," to the head worker there. She said: "You know, John, that is a great idea, but the poem is copyrighted, so you must have permission from the author to use the poem." John hadn't thought of that, but he asked her how he could get the author, Helen Dowd's, permission. After much research they found my E-mail address. When I received the E-mail, I was happy to give permission for John to attach my poem to his Bears.

I had the privilege of going to the very first annual Teddy Bear Day at the Burnaby Museum, where I met John. He had done the Teddy Bear poem up on a pretty page and had printed out several copies. For a donation of a couple of dollars, John gave out the poems to the people who came. The donations did not go to John, not even for materials to make the bears. From his own meagre pension he has taken the Teddy Bear project on as his own undertaking. All donations received are for a worthy cause, that of helping out the ill and invalid. And the Teddy Bears, whom he still calls "Hazel's Bears", although his wife is now gone, were on display for people to see. They are great! Each Teddy is different, each with a "personality" of its own.

People came by to see the display, and when they were handed a poem, many of them wanted me to sign it, which I happily did. I spent a couple of delightful hours there at the Museum, hours I shall treasure forever.

John calls all his Bears "Joel", a combination of John and Hazel. My Joel sits on top of my computer. He is adorable, his arms outstretched, waiting for someone to hug.

Teddy Bears

Teddy Bears are fuzzy folk: They’re comforting to touch.
On days that you are feeling down, they’re there for you to clutch.
If you should ever need a hug, or feel you’d like to cry,
Then grab a cuddly Teddy Bear—there's always one close by.

Your Teddy Bear is your best friend. He loves you as you are.
He’ll never tell you what to wear, (or how to drive a car).
On days you think your clothes are tight, and you are feeling fat,
Just tell it to your Teddy Bear: sit down and have a chat.

Teddy Bears are loyal folk. They’ll never criticize.
They will not tell you how to eat: they’re VERY, VERY wise.
Your Teddy won’t condemn you; he doesn’t mind your shape;
And he will never run from you, or from your woes escape.

Teddy Bears are courteous folk. They will not interrupt.
They’ll never say, “I told you so!” or cut you off, abrupt.
Your Teddy Bear will not get mad if you embrace a friend,
Or if you stay out late one night, or the budget overspend.

Teddy Bears aren’t greedy folk; they’d never steal a treat.
And they will never cheat at games--or EVER, EVER beat.
Teddy Bears are silent folk; they listen very well;
And they will never breathe a word of secrets you may tell.

Teddy Bears are faithful folk--they never turn on you.
‘Though you may toss them to and fro’ they’ll always stay true-blue.
So if you’re feeling all alone, like you haven’t got a friend,
Then get yourself a TEDDY BEAR. He’ll stay with you to the end.

© Helen Dowd.

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