Meet Bumpy Bear, my son’s best friend.
He looks good considering all he’s been through. Squished, thrown, stepped on and, on one miserable day, left behind; he has survived it all with grace and dignity. I don’t know who will be more upset, the bear or me, when, inevitably, that day comes when his quiet courage will no longer be required.
Bumpy Bear has been a life-line both for a sensitive boy and for an overtaxed mommy. For the boy who just couldn’t face a day without mommy, Bumpy Bear took my place. For the nights when mommy just couldn’t get up one more time to cuddle a sleepy boy, Bumby Bear took my place. And for the bumps and bruises that a kiss couldn’t cure, Bumpy Bear helped out.
I know, it isn’t particularly remarkable for a child to have a special bear, expect to the child who loves him. You’ll probably roll your eyes when I try to tell you Bumpy Bear is different. ‘Every mother thinks that’ you’ll say… but I know a secret about Bumpy Bear, one only my son and I share… Bumpy Bear has my father’s eyes.
You see Bumpy Bear came into our lives shortly after my dad was taken by a horrible cancer. Just nine months old at the time, much of my son’s infancy was dominated by trips back and forth to my parent’s house helping out and squeezing every last moment I could with the man the kids’ called Bumpy. The constant travel meant interrupted sleep patterns and time away from my son’s own daddy, leaving an imprint I still see in my son’s heart-wrenching reactions to leaving me.
Bumpy Bear was created when my sister took all the grandkids to build their own teddy bear. The idea was to give the kids some comfort and something to remind them of their grandfather. We missed the mark with most of them, somehow coming away with one bear dressed like Buzz Lightyear and another in a bridal gown but for the two babies, my nephew and my son, the bears were an instant hit. The bear, now called Bumpy after the kids’ grandfather, became a permanent fixture.
Cancer is a horrible, evil disease, and I don’t use that word lightly, but even in the midst of literally loosing his mind to it, my father managed to leave a piece of himself behind for the boys who will never really know him. I watch Bumpy Bear give my son the comfort I know my father would have if he could, and it gives me comfort. Whether it’s a simple thing like reading a book or the hard stuff like easing his fears, this little ball of cotton performs well above what anyone could expect from a stuffed animal.
No one can take the role my father should have had in his grandson’s life but somehow Bumpy Bear fills the void; easing not only my son’s mind but mine as well. I know someday my son will grow big and there will be no room in his bed for Bumpy Bear. Like Puff the Magic Dragon learned, someday my son will come no more. But on that day, I’ll make room in my bed. We’ll ease each other’s loneliness, the bear without his boy and me without my dad.