When I was in the hospital recovering from lung surgery many years ago, a friend gave a teddy bear to me. He knew that I’d long outgrown such gifts, but seeing how miserable, drugged-up and helpless I was, he decided a teddy bear was symbolically appropriate and might just provide some comfort. It did, and I appreciated the gesture.
The bear was rust-colored, so I called it Rusty. It may also have had something to do with the fact that as a little boy my nickname was Rusty. I was named after the little boy’s character in a television show called Rin-Tin-Tin.
Rusty was with me in the hospital and in the long, painful weeks during my recovery at home.
Later, when I married and when we began having children, my family learned how Rusty had been with me throughout my illness. When one of us got sick, Rusty was there to help comfort them. It wasn’t long before our young children began bringing Rusty to whoever was sick “to help them get better.”
Rusty is now over 35 years old. He has faithfully been there for everyone in my family many times. His presence is not only comforting, but a symbol of our love.
Rusty has been through a lot with us. Over the years he has become tattered. He is not much to look at anymore, but you should see the appreciative grin on the face of whoever is ill when he is brought in to them.
Our children are now all adults. As they marry and have families of their own, I have no doubt that such a tradition will continue with a stuffed animal for their families.
In the meantime, Rusty is still here, faithfully and lovingly waiting to help comfort any grandchildren who visit.