Stuffed Animals that Heal

I know, I start almost every blog in the same general way, but if you stick with me birdanddragon_frontcover_33there is usually a good story that follows that first paragraph. If you have read my first book A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir you’ve already met Kermit and heard that he is still holding me together and helping me through the hard times after the death of my second husband, Sy. But I have other stuffed animals that played or do play a large part in my life in that corner of me that I call my whimsical side. Yes, I was born in 1940 and you can do the math, but I still have a little girl inside me that loves her stuffed animals.

My mother adored dolls and so every chance she got she would provide me with a lovely doll. I didn’t like dolls because they weren’t real and most of them were hard and stiff. I wanted soft, cuddly toys—my stuffed animals. The first one that was important to me will be featured in my second book Sissy’s Story: Inside a Child’s Long Term Illness. I don’t want to tell the whole story here but the short version is my older sister PollyAnne brought Monkey home to me from her afterschool job at the local department/hardware store. He was a brown monkey and I was a very sick little girl shut away for almost six months in my bed in my overlarge closet bedroom on the second floor. The only grace in the situation was my bedroom was directly over the kitchen so I could at least hear my mother cooking meals and the family gatheredHidden Sorrow Monkey around the kitchen table. Monkey understood how painful this was for a five-year-old and would lay on the pillow beside my head listening to me pour out my loneliness to this little brown, plush furred, stuffed monkey. Mother told me that the reason he doesn’t have a mouth anymore was because I would run my fingers over his mouth tracing his smile, either with the desire that his smile would become mine or to keep him from giving up my secrets. I hope he goes to the crematorium with me because no one else could understand how healing and important Monkey was to me.

IMG_20170324_121833971.jpgNext comes Kermit and that story is in A Bird and the Dragon, check it out in the chapter ‘The Shoe Box.’ The short version of this tale is Kermit was a gift to me when Sy went off to do his government job on the submarines out of Whaling City. Kermit now sits in my bathroom keeping a kindly eye on me and reminding me that Sy is only a thought away. He also should go to the fire with me because no other person could possibly understand how he connects me to Sy. Daughter Annie recently added the framed quotation.

After I had my counseling degree and was working both in the Pastoral Counseling Center and at home in my private office in Nerme, my adult daughter, Elizabeth was isolating herself from me, because of I’m not sure what, and I was grieving the separation that I knew had to take place, but it wasn’t fun. She had purchased two blonde colored teddy bears for her niece and nephew and had come on a rare visit to the house. I forget now which child was there but the other wasn’t so she had an extra bear. “Here Mom, this is for you,” she said pushing the incredibly soft bear into my hands. I knew otherwise, but all gifts at that point were cherished and still are. J.B. sits on my bed and has for years. At one point in my counseling career when my mother came to live with us, I was forced to put my office into our second floor bedroom suite. A male client came for his first visit. I made apologies for having my office in my bedroom and he looked over at J.B. and said, “You know, I was a little uneasy coming to see a therapist for the first time but when I saw you had a Teddy Bear on your bed I figured you couldn’t be too bad to work with.”

J.B.’s story goes on. He has been on my bed for many years—still soft and still blonde colored. Before Sy passed away we had made a promise to one another that the one left behind would not mourn forever but get out there again and look for another partner. If you are familiar with Feng Shui, you know that if you are looking for a person to share your bedroom you must have two items not just a single IMG_20170324_122016586.jpgobject. So there was J.B. all by his lonesome on my bed. Just before Easter in the year after Sy passed away, I found in Whole Foods these blonde colored rabbits with floppy ears and fell in love. I bought Isabella and brought her home to sit beside J.B. on the bed. He put his arm around her and told me she needed a pink ribbon around her neck to go with his red bow. I found the perfect ribbon.

Now, if you have been following my blogs you know that I wrote a blog last fall about ‘The Lady and the Tramp,’ my two Cavalier King Charles dogs. My black and tan It has been a good journeyCavalier was fondly called the Tramp by me. He spotted the stuffed rabbit on the bed but didn’t say anything to me. One day when I came home from grocery shopping I found that Isabella was no longer tucked under J.B.’s arm and her feet were wet. I put her back not thinking too much about it. When I got home from church three days later Isabella was pulled to one side of the bed and her feet were wet, again. The top of my bed is high up but still her feet were wet. I took Isabella to where Markey, my dog, was sleeping on the couch and said, “Markey, did you do this?” He ducked his head and tucked his tail. Okay, Markey wanted the rabbit! I tried everything I could think of to dissuade him of his new passion. Finally, I remembered that Annie was going to be driving right past Whole Foods where I had gotten Isabella, on her way to come to me for Easter. I called Annie. “Annie, could you please pick me up two lop-eared rabbits at Whole Foods on your way here?  I’ll give you the money when you arrive. Markey wants a rabbit for Easter!”

Annie arrived next day and came into the house with a big brown bag. She waited until Markey had said his hellos and then she pulled one of the rabbits out of the bag. Markey stood right up on his hind legs and took the rabbit out of her hands. He shook it appropriately and then ran around the room a few times triumphantly carrying his blonde rabbit and finally climbed up onto the couch to settle down with his new pet. Cara, the other dog, lady that she is, waited patiently until Annie handed her rabbit to her. And would you believe I now have two well-worn blonde haired rabbits and Isabella has never had wet feet again?

I think the world needs to know that even adults have the need for soft cuddly things to hold at times in their lives and so that is why I chose to share these stories. Do you have stuff animals that have helped you through hard times? Really, it is okay to admit to it. I did!!

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