Winnie the Pooh. I believe he was the first stuffed animal I got when I was a child. Pooh Bear was the one I remember as my endearing favorite. I always had a strong affinity toward Winnie, and I remember waiting for the time when brand new Winnie the Pooh evening specials would air on television. I remember every part of those TV specials and how they all began with a Winnie the Pooh stuffed teddy bear sitting on the shelf of a child’s bedroom. The TV camera would pan the bedroom shelf, find Winnie-the-Pooh, and then slowly close in close in on the bear, sitting on the shelf before the 30 minute dream-like child’s story unfolded in (now) old-fashioned animated form.
I was captivated from the get-go. Not only was I enamored in Winnie-the-Pooh, I held the same sentiment to the entire cast of characters. Christopher Robin, Piglet, Rabbit, Owl, Gopher, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, and of course Tigger (because he’s the only one). All of the characters of Hundred Acre Woods caught my imaginative joy.
I remember when I first got my Winnie the Pooh as a Christmas gift. To me, he was magical. He was fuzzy and soft, and I remember how the inside his of his circular ears seemed even softer. ‘Rubby’ was my childhood description of anything so tacitly soft and soothing to the touch.
When I left my parents house 31 years ago, I left my Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal in the closet, knowing that there he would be safe. I never wanted to get rid of him, although I had long since grown out of sleeping with cuddly stuffed animals in the nighttime. He was still my cuddly Pooh Bear.
While in an upstairs bedroom of my parents house during one of my visits, my mom was showing me some of my old belongings to see if I wanted to take any of them at the time. I took a of couple childhood items then and told my mom that I would wait for the others, for now. But one request I did ask my mom was where is my Winnie the Pooh stuffed bear, because I would take him now. The look on mom’s face changed to sadness and she said “Oh honey, I didn’t want to tell you. Awhile back I noticed he needed a good cleaning, so I put him in the washer machine. When the cycle finished, he was all torn up in pieces, so I threw him away.”
My heart sank because I knew that Pooh Bear would always be safe at mom and dad’s house. Her intentions were good, but the expected outcome was not. Lousy. Over the years I would share that story of sadness and disappointment to my students anytime there was some kind of connection to what we had been reading in class. For school-aged children, embedded learning is all about making personal connections.
Yesterday my sister Kath and I went to mom and dad’s house to help clean-up the upstairs. Since neither mom or dad are now physically able to safely go up and down a staircase, there is plenty of work that needs to be done. Kath has been there on many previous weekends to do the same with Cory and grandson, Noah.
Kath and I were in what was previously our brother Gib’s room-then-turned studio for me while I was attending Art Center. She had previously set aside a couple of my old belongings that she wanted to ask me about keeping, and then she showed me Pooh. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was my long-lost Pooh Bear and I was filled with a rush of emotion. The same Pooh Bear that mom told me was ruined in the wash. The same Pooh Bear that I loved as a child and had longed for in my adult life as a true keeper. I can imagine the look on my face as Kath showed me Pooh. She knew I would want him, and she was ever-so right.
Pooh, who had been sitting in darkness for decades, was now looking at me. His face, the same as it ever was, fast-forwarded me back in time and brought immediate joy and love as I always had for this silly-ol’-bear.
Thank you mom for getting this one wrong! Winnie the Pooh found me again, nearly 55 years after he first found me. He is really, really back, and is now sitting on a shelf at my own home. Back with me is a dear childhood memory. Enjoying in the delight to once again see, and be seen by others. His stuffed-with-fluff self may no longer be as soft as it once was, but he is still my silly ol’ bear.