The other day a friend, Meg Dendler, posted on Facebook that she loves Betty White because Betty talks to her stuffed animals.
Well, this certainly resonated with me, because I not only talk to my teddy bear Joe, but also put him to bed every night with his own little blanket. I have posted a whole album of pictures of him on my Facebook profile. You see, Joe is my only remaining teddy bear, my last stuffed animal. He’s golden-colored, cuddly, and can sit up by himself.
I’ve had many stuffed animals throughout the years: Tommy the monkey (who was actually a little hard and stiff), Humpty-Dumpty (not exactly an animal, more like a flattened cloth egg), numerous stuffed rabbits in various colors, and best of all, Fred and Bill, the teddy bears I received as a gift when I was born. Fred was whitish and made of sheepskin (he was the first to rot many years later) and Bill was dark brown fake fur. I washed and brushed him so much that much of his hair eventually fell out.
My sister Bertie had a fabulous collection of stuffed animals and dolls. They filled up an entire bedroom and overflowed into her living room and office. Now that she’s not with us any more, I imagine most of the dolls, bears and other stuffed toys will go to charity, including a couple that I made myself when I was operating my teddy bear company in the 70s, Bears Primarily (named by my great pal Madora Kibbe).
But Joe is special. Bertie gave him to me on my birthday about a decade ago, and I’ve carried him around with me ever since. That is until I spent a year in the USA in 2007-2008 and left him with Bertie when I came back to Rio because I couldn’t squeeze him into my already jammed suitcase. Bertie nicely agreed to mail him to me. She carefully wrapped him in plastic bubble wrap, packed him into a shoe box, filled out the customs forms and sent him off.
I waited and waited. And waited. Months went by and there was no sign of Joe. What could have happened to him? Was he lost forever in the tangled web of the international mail service? I finally gave him up as lost, and tried to forget, hoping he’d somehow find his way into the arms of some deserving child.
But then one day a package arrived. I went downstairs to see what it was and the doorman handed me a crushed, but intact shoebox. It was Joe! I ripped off the tape and opened the lid…there he was, in perfect condition. I was so excited that I pulled him out of the box and introduced him to the doorman, who looked at me rather strangely. But I didn’t care, I was just happy to have Joe back.
When I got upstairs, I found out what had taken Joe so long to get home…somehow he’d ended up in Peru! I’m glad the Peruvian post office had the good sense to get him back on track and down to Rio where he belongs.
Here’s Joe’s very own Facebook album: