'Ted is a special breed of Bear with a deep, honey coloured complexion, soft curly hair, with kindly orange eyes and a beautiful broad grin. He’s very kind and wise – I think that he would have a lot in common with the Dalai Lama.

Ted was given to my brother Ben, we think when he was three, and when Ben died in a motorbike accident aged 16, Ted was passed on to me to take care of – to be honest Ted is pretty self-sufficient and has done more caring of me, although I have noticed recently that he’s developed a few little tears in his nose, which need attending. And he seems to have developed a couple of small cataracts. I’m not sure how Bear years translate into humans – is it 7 like cats? If so – Ted is 308, so I guess that a bit of darning is to be expected.

I was 9 years old when Ted came to live with me and I found it very comforting to be able to sleep with Ted, who Ben had cherished. I could see the patches of fur that were thinning a little with his embrace and could feel the bells in his ear that had been broken through use. He was a tangible link with my brother who wasn’t here any more and just as Ben, no doubt, had shared his dreams with Ted when he was younger, so I was now able to. I never really played with him, or even carried him around much as I remember, but I slept with him every night and whispered my dreams into his broken belled ears. 

He was a faithful and jolly companion, accompanying me on many trips – canal boating, hill walking, camping and journeys abroad, with an unfailing smile on his lips. As I got older and started to venture further afield, he remained by my side, or more frequently stowed away in my rucksack. He found himself in a forest in deepest Budapest and even travelled to Kathmandu and up into the Himalayas. It was soon after this trip, however, that I began to notice that Ted was getting older and was showing signs of ware – his feet were duly mended and I decided that he might enjoy a little retirement, staying at home with my mum and dad.

He now spends most of his time on my mum’s dressing table, who I’m sure regularly showers him the affection he deserves. I must admit that I have not been very good at visiting him of late, so I am grateful for the nudge and we enjoyed a lovely evening together the other day. Ted wasn’t remotely resentful (as I say he’s very relaxed) and we just picked up where we had left off. 

None of us are getting any younger, but Ted is certainly doing it in style and I hope to follow his example. I’ll continue to look after him in his old age and will fiercely protect him and run through fire to save him. Which makes me think, we need a fire escape plan, for while he is a sagacious bear, he was never very good on his pins and he’s just too laid back to rush.


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