is no love so deep
As a child’s devotion to her teddy bear.
When I was almost three, my mother said, “I have a treat for you,
today, Lynnie Ruth. You are going to meet Sandy’s new brother.”
Sandy was my favorite cousin. She was everything I wasn’t: beautiful, confident
and fully capable of living in the real world, while I was a child who lived in
a magic place inside my head filled with fairies, rainbows and chocolate candy
that grew on trees. “Where did she buy him?” I asked.
Mama bundled me into my navy blue coat and tied a velvet bonnet under my chin.
“She didn’t buy him,” she said. “Aunt Sally brought him from heaven. Now he’s at
Mercy Hospital; the same place you were born.”
“Did you buy me in heaven, too?” I asked.
My mother frowned. ”Not exactly,” she said.
The two of us walked into the hospital and took an elevator to the sixth floor.
We entered a room filled with flowers. My Aunt Sally was sitting up in the bed
holding a blue blanket filled with something egg shaped. “What’s in there?” I
asked my mother and she laughed.
“That’s Brucie!” she said. “Sandy’s new brother. Do you want to see him?”
She lifted me up and my Aunt Sally pulled aside the blanket so I could see
Brucie’s face. His skin looked golden as fresh peaches and he smelled like sweet
honeysuckle. His tiny head was covered with soft blond fuzz that felt like
little feathers when I touched it. He gurgled and smiled with so much happiness
that I giggled. “Oh I just love him!” I exclaimed. ”Can I take him home?”
My mother laughed. “Of course you can’t,” she said. “He belongs to Sandy and
Aunt Sally. You can visit him, though.”
My eyes filled with tears. “Why can’t I have him?” I cried, “He’s beautiful.”
I was very quiet when we left the hospital and that night when I closed my eyes,
I saw a procession of pudgy pink and white Brucies, parading across my
counterpane. When I reached out to grab one, they all vanished. I put my thumb
in my mouth and let my tears drip down my cheeks. ”Please may I have a Brucie of
my own?” I whispered to the good fairy that lived in my heart. “Please?”
A few days later, my mother woke me up and said, “I have a lovely surprise for
you Lynnie Ruth.”
I shook the sleep from my eyes. “Did you buy me a Brucie?” I asked.
She shook her head. Somehow I felt I had spoiled her pleasure but I didn’t know
why. “I brought you a different kind of friend,” she said. “A teddy bear.”
In those days, teddies had rough, bristly skin, pointed noses and beady eyes
that looked at you as if they could read your mind. I examined the little
stuffed animal in the pretty box my mother gave me and I shook my head. “He
isn’t as pretty as Aunt Sally’s Brucie, but he’s awfully sweet,” I said.
I rubbed my face against his rough fur and suddenly I knew that this little
animal was just the companion I needed to share the long lonely hours when no
one had time to read to me and my mother made me play all alone. I hugged the
stuffed bear again and rested my face against his. “Are you going to give your
teddy bear a name?” asked my mother and I nodded.
“I’m going to call him BRUCIE,” I said. “And I will love him forever. Look Mama!
He even has a little pink tongue.”
From that moment until well into grade school, I took Brucie with me wherever I
went. I needed his comfort when my imaginary blue devils appeared to do their
macabre dance in my head. When I finally grew too old to keep Brucie by my side,
I sat him on my pillow so I could cuddle him each night. I was a shy child and
real playmates frightened me with their blustery ways. Brucie was my best
Years passed and I learned to stand on my own without my childhood playmate. I
excelled in school and went on to be the first person in my family to graduate
from a major university. The other women in my graduating class received
elaborate gifts because their families believed that a college degree was an
achievement. I hadn’t thought much about the gift I would receive because I was
so elated with the degree itself. I hoped that perhaps my parents would buy me
an electric typewriter so I could write down the stories growing inside me even
then, but I didn’t think that would happen. They hadn’t made much of a fuss
about my graduation and I was resigned to coming home and doing my usual summer
work at a day camp before leaving Toledo for a teaching job in Cleveland. My
father drove to Ann Arbor to pick me up and we loaded the car with a four-year
accumulation of mementoes, books and clothing. We returned home exhausted from
the trip and my mother opened the door to greet me. “I have a lovely surprise
for you, Lynn Ruth,” she said and she pointed to a toy bear with a pink ribbon
around its neck. It was sitting in the middle of our living room couch.
I looked at the stuffed animal and I knew it should ring some kind of bell in my
head, but the long drive in the early summer heat had numbed my brain. “What is
that?” I asked.
My mother’s smile faded into anguish and her eyes looked suspiciously red.
“That‘s Brucie!” she said. “I had him cleaned and freshened up for you.”
Now, I was really puzzled. “Who is Brucie?” I asked and it was my mother’s turn
“Brucie is the teddy bear who always comforted you, Lynn Ruth,” she said. “I
thought you might like to have him with you when you move to a strange place to
start your new job.”
I picked up the little bear and looked into his beady eyes and suddenly the
familiar consolation I had always felt at his touch overwhelmed me. I had been
so afraid of all the new adventures that awaited me and now I had this familiar
friend to keep me company once more.
“I thought he’d make a nice graduation present,” she said.
I looked at her anxious face and it was my turn to reassure her. “And you were
absolutely right, Mother,” I said. “I don’t think you could have chosen a
And I was right.
Everyone knows you are never too old
To love a teddy bear.
Sigmund Freud’s mother
Lynn Ruth Miller