The Third Bear
The Story Ends
The story that begins with the first Paddington Bear that my mom gave me as I headed out for college ends with the 3rd Paddington Bear that she gave me. A bear, for all intents and purposes, that said to me, You made it, you have become the person you wanted to be—you have taken your wings and flown higher than either of us expected on that fateful day, so many years ago when you went to college. And, you have also been true to your roots, always remembering your family and community.
The house was all packed, we were ready to go and my mom was once again hosting a party. This time, my farewell party. After living in the same town for 15 years, I had accepted a position at a University five hours away. I would be moving out of the town that had become a family town for us over the years. It was the place where two of my children were born, where I moved my mom and my sister after I graduated with my teaching credential, where two of my sisters lived with their families, and where my aunt and cousin had moved to a few years ago to be closer to family--it was our family town in these United States. This was place where I had purchased my mother her own home with a fireplace, helping her fulfill a dream she had had ever since she was a little girl. This is where we had formed many bonds, many memories, many good times, and now I was leaving to become a professor at a University five hours away.
After all the gifts were opened, my mother took out a finely wrapped box. It was beautiful and she came over to me, tears flowing freely as she told the assembled guests,
"When my baby went off to college so many years ago, I gave her a Paddington Bear. He was sort of scruffy looking and sort of sad and he had a tag that said, Please look after this bear and she did and she graduated with her teaching credential. Years later, when she finished her doctorate, I gave her another Paddington bear. This one was better dressed to show that he had made it and was going places in his life. Again, I said to her, Please look after this bear, and she did and now look at her--all ready to become a professor.
She handed me the package and waited patiently as I opened it--Another Paddington bear-this time dressed in a tuxedo and looking like he had really MADE IT. With the same tag, Please look after this bear. This, she said, is a bear that has it all and is now making his way in the world to help others. She said to me, "I will miss you greatly, not having you here, but I am so proud of you. Please, look after this bear just as much as you did the other two." With tears streaming down my face, I gave my mom a hug--the bond complete, the understanding there, the love flowing. My mom, in all her grandeur, had come full circle. We were one-both of us understanding the courage and sacrifice it had taken to get us to this point in our lives.