Tuesday, October 19, 2010

ON FAMILY ~ A Girl's Best Friend...

Meet Cuddles. Cuddles is a well loved bear. Cuddles has been in my life for as long as I can remember. When I was a wee tyke, I remember my grandparents taking me shopping at a toy store and Cuddles is what I picked out. He looked a lot different back then, but so did I.

I had a room filled with stuffed animals growing up. We moved a lot and so those toys were my friends. I named them all and created intricate lives and adventures for all of them. But Cuddles was always king. He came to bed with me every night where I wrapped my little arms around his soft, fluffy fur and snuggled up for sleep.

I took him on the road with me too. I brought him with me to visit my other grandparents one time and got so distracted in the process of leaving that I left him behind. You would have thought the world had ended. And for a tiny child, it had. I had abandoned my best friend, left him all alone under the porch stairs where we had been having a fun adventure of one sort or another. I was sure that he was scared and lonely just like I was without him at night. Thankfully for me it was a happy reunion - he was a very forgiving friend.

Needless to say, Cuddles needed a bath after his night in the dirt under the porch. And although he came through the washer and dryer squeaky clean, he never quite looked or felt the same after that. Mom had to do several repair stitches to keep his stuffing together, but being such an active bear, pieces still managed to fall out dragging along with me.

Over the years Cuddles absorbed many tears, which resulted in his fur becoming more matted down. Why cry into a pillow when I had such a comforting bear to help me through the tough times? Fights with my brother, punishments from misbehaving, teasing from neighborhood kids for being the new girl in town, stolen boyfriends, bruised egos. Cuddles was my rock.

In teenage years, it was not cool to have a room full of stuffed animals, much less go to sleep at night with one tucked under my head. Although many of them were stored away, Cuddles got to stay. He was propped on the spare twin bed in my room, as if a decoration. But I still turned to him - a lot. When our kitty died, when I was grounded, when homework frustrated me, when friends fought, when races were lost or when boys ignored. If teenage boys were as sweet and understanding as Cuddles, life in high school would have been a lot easier.

When I moved away to college, Cuddles came with me. He had lost all of his stuffing by then. Flat as a pancake and not all that dissimilar to how he looks now. Ratty looking bear. That's how some people saw him. What are you hanging on to that thing for? One friend, upon helping me pack up my belongings to return home one summer actually placed him on the windshield underneath the wiper as a joke. Not funny. Poor Cuddles. I rescued him quickly and refused to box him up with all the other junk. He wasn't junk. He was a proud little bear who deserved better treatment.

I moved from one apartment to the next throughout my 20's and Cuddles was always there in my room. I turned to him less and less. Not because life got any easier, but because I got a bit stronger. There were still painful situations that no one else could ease me through though. The sudden death of a friend known for his incredible hugs. Squeezing Cuddles' flat little frame and letting him mop up the tears helped me through that sad time.

Now he sits alone in our festive Red Sox themed office, keeping the futon company. I sometimes feel bad that he's all by himself in there, with no one to hug him or for him to love. But don't you worry, he still provides comfort. His lap has made some kittens along the way very happy. He misses little Lucy just like Andy and Tedy and I do. Just like I miss the grandparents who gave Cuddles to me. There are a lot of memories inside that mangy little bear - which is why his stuffing never needs to be replaced.


Kristi said...

That's so sweet that you still have it. It makes me wonder if any of the boys' "buddies" that they love so much will stay with them. Thanks for the smile today when I needed it:)

Sandy Nawrot said...

That is so sweet!!!! I had a teddy growing up, but my mom threw him away when he got bedraggled. I was devastated! I didn't care if he had lost an ear and was missing some stuffing. My kids both have lovies. Ryan has a blankey (Doggy Blankey) and Emma has a bear (Special Bear) that I will keep forever, whether they want or not.

I love that picture of your kitties loving Cuddles. Makes me sad.

LJ said...

Very sweet. I was never into stuffed animals that much. Each time I got attached to something, my mom would find a way to get rid of it. But that's a discussion for therapy.

My sister-in-law had such a comfort friend when she was a kid, and she passed it along to her oldest (who is now 28). That stuffed dog had many reincarnations over the years. But still holds many fond memories for it multi-generational life.

Jenny Girl said...

OMG! I had the same Teddy Bear! I mean the same exact one. I received him when I was a baby, and I may still have him. He had a music box too, that worked up until a few years ago. We had similiar experiences to what you and your friend had.

Bad friend that I am, I can't remember if I still have him or not. I may have sent him on to greener pastures. He was looking pretty bad the poor thing.

kayerj said...

that was so sweet . . . love the memories your best friend is stuffed with.

Lisa said...

My daughter and I were just cleaning out her room and I tried to get rid of some stuffed animals. She never stuck to one favorite so we have to keep quite a few--a stuffed star that her brother made for her when he was in 8th grade, her stuffed Humpty Dumpty, her black bear Beanie Baby that she played all of the time with. Such wonderful memories.

cardiogirl said...

What a great photo of the kitties with one of your favorite tangible memories. Cuddles seems to be the gift that keeps on giving.