My brother and I were Winnie-the-Pooh fans, probably because our parents delighted in those books.
There was great wisdom there...
“I wish I could jump like that,” he thought. “Some can and some can’t. That’s how it is.”
My parents read those stories to us over and over; my father’s Eeyore voice was the best in town—low, slow and decidedly morose.
We even had a recorded version of a WTP story, narrated by Jimmy Stewart on old 78rpm records; there was a picture book with it for reading along, and every time you were supposed to turn the page, Pooh would say “rum-tum tiddle-iddle-um tum-tum.”
Whatever that meant.
My brother’s favorite stuffed animal was Kanga, who even had a Baby Roo tucked into her pouch. They accompanied him into his tonsillectomy when he was about eight years old—after which there was a little spot of blood on Kanga, who had, apparently, had her tonsils removed, too. (Many years later we discovered that Kanga’s were actually John’s adenoids... saved in a little jar along with his inflamed tonsils!)
Mine was this bear.
This glorious, rough, worn bear was originally supposed to be Winnie himself; I changed his name to Teddy and dragged him about with me absolutely everywhere. He went for car rides (sitting in the back seat with me); he got taken to my grandparents’ summer house in
, where he
sported his bathing suit and his (politically incorrect) Indian Pajamas,
handmade by my grandmother. New Hampshire
She made me a pair exactly like his!
Somewhere along the line, he was given several different outfits: shorts, t-shirts, even a pair of jeans; he had a suitcase and, as I recall, a yellow rainhat; a sou’wester!
When his paws wore off, my grandfather made him leather pads. He lost an eye at some point; he was quite dashing in his black eyepatch!
He was, without question, my best friend.
He’s still with me; he holds a place of honor on the top shelf of my bookcase in my living room. He’s not in particularly good shape, but then, neither am I—we’re both a little shopworn, a little slower on the uptake.
But we’re older now, wiser.
Our relationship has hurtled along for more than sixty years, and I expect a few more. I see him every day, look up to the shelf as I pass through the living room each morning on my way to the kitchen for a cup of coffee...
...rum-tum tiddle-iddle-um tum-tum