Today Michael Bond the brilliant author and creator of Paddington Bear passed over to the other side. A place where I like to think that no dark thoughts reside and everyone has a special bear to comfort them when feeling lost or alone.
In reading about Mr Bond he had revealed that he also went through a very terrible period in his life where he contemplated ending it. He said that Paddington rescued him because he did not want to let the bear down by giving up. Saved by a bear of his own creation and his own imagination.
As a small child growing up I did not have a teddy bear. I have a very distinct memory of visiting family friends in Toronto who had a lovely large well worn bear that sat in their living room. It belonged to one of their teenage sons who obviously no longer needed it.
I was about six years old and while the adults chatted outside on the patio of this suburban home I would sit in a large overstuffed chair in that living room and just stare at this bear. I desperately wanted to take him home. He looked as if he would have given me comfort through thick and thin.
Alas it was not to be. For some unknown reason I received dolls for Christmas and birthdays. Bears were not in my parent's repertoire of gifts suitable for an immigrant Finnish girl. Back in those days we really did not have that many toys but were thankful for what we did have. I do however remember asking for a bear like the one I so coveted in that living room. Perhaps this was a way to create resiliency or perhaps the idea that a doll would allow me to develop my nurturing side more than a bear would.
I really don't know the answer to this but I do know the importance of bears and stuffed animals in a child's life. Anyone who has ever had children or is around a child knows how they can love a toy like this more than any other. Now Paddington having been a displaced bear from darkest Peru made him all that much more lovable. A bear who had been given a chance with a new family. Was it Mr Bond's intention to develop empathy and kindness when he wrote the story?
My hat goes off to Michael Bond and the imaginary world he gave to his readers all around the world. To the miracle of Paddington and his uniqueness and how
loved he was. If only our world could transcend all the barriers we have of acceptance. Perhaps we could not only enjoy these wonderful stories but also embrace the values they imparted. Thank you Michael Bond for your gifts.
*The Paddington in the photo belonged to our first born daughter and was a special present for her first birthday. She sadly died before the age of 20. We no longer have her but we have the bear. One of the miracles of life....the human capability to survive and become resilient.