Buzzy the Bear
It was a Steiff bear, complete with the button and tag in his ear, light brown fur and dark brown eyes. The bear had arrived on the Brightsons' doorstep that morning in nicely wrapped box. The package had not been mailed, and that was strange. So it had come from someone within walking or driving distance, someone who didn't want to be identified. But why a Steiff bear?
Madeline Brightson knew that Steiff bears came from Germany and were probably the most expensive bears a person could buy. She'd never had one as a child, and if someone had given her a Steiff bear her mother would have put it in a glass case under lock and key. Instead, she had a cheap bear, Buzzy, that she played with for years until he fell apart and her mother threw him away. One day when she was in fourth grade, Madeline came back from school and Buzzy was gone.
"Where's Buzzy? I can't find him. He was sleeping in my bed when I went to school."
"That old thing? He was falling apart. He's gone. In the garbage truck that came this morning."
"You threw him away?" Madeline had started to cry.
"He was so dilapidated, an embarrassment to the decor of your lovely bedroom. You're too old for teddy bears anyway."
The loss of Buzzy had left a hole in Madeline's heart. Even now, years later, when she herself was a wife and mother, she thought fondly of Buzzy and still mourned him. She shuddered to think of him still lying in a landfill, but maybe he had disintegrated by now. Probably not. He was probably still there lying in the middle of trash and garbage, still thinking about his friend Madeline.
Now Madeline stood with her family looking at a brand new Steiff bear.
"That's a Steiff bear. I used to have one, " said her husband Geoffrey.
"You had one? Lucky you."
"I guess you didn't. Well, you were a girl."
"So what! I liked teddy bears. My mother bought me a cheap little bear. I named him Buzzy. If I had had a Steiff bear it would probably have been locked up in a display case. I wouldn't have been allowed to play with him."
Little Johanna looked at her mother. "Locked up? Wow. I'm glad you didn't do that to my guys. That's sad."
"Yes it was. But I had Buzzy for a long time."
"What happened to him?"
"Well, Johanna, I hate to tell you this, but my mother threw him away one day when I was at school."
Geoffrey looked alarmed. Johanna looked shocked.
"Sorry. I shouldn't have mentioned it. I don't want you to think badly of your grandma."
Geoffrey frowned. "How can she avoid it? Listen, Johanna, people do things for different reasons. Usually people believe that they're doing the right thing." He looked to his wife for support.
"Yes. That's true. Grandma Betty thought the old bear made my room look messy. Plus, she thought that I was too old for a teddy bear. I was in fourth grade."
"I'm in fourth grade."
"Yes, I know, Johanna, but don't worry. We're not throwing away any of your guys or your dolls. And no one is going into a glass case, locked away forever. Not even this new Steiff bear."
Then little Jonah spoke up. "Can it be my bear?"
"You'll tear it apart. You'll get food on it. You're too little."
"I'm not," Jonah shrieked as he pushed his sister.
It was Geoffrey's turn. "Listen, kids, we don't know where this Steiff bear came from. The box had a name on it."
The children looked at their father. "Whose name?"
"Well, Johanna, it said The Brightson Family. That means your dad, your mom, your little brother, and yourself. We're going to have to share the bear. Somehow."
"You don't want a bear."
"Why not, Jonah? I had a Steiff bear very much like this one when I was a boy. I named him Brownie because of his light brown fur and his big brown eyes."
"What happened to him? Did your mom throw him away?"
"No, Jonah. I have a feeling he's still in her house. Next time we visit, I'm going to have to check."
Jonah looked relieved. "Can I have him?"
"Well, we'll have to find him first and then check with Grandma Louise. And if he's not in good condition, maybe Grandma can get out her sewing equipment and fix him up. If it turns out that Grandma Louise has Brownie and is willing to give him up, you'll have to grant me visitation rights."
"It means that I'll be allowed to visit Brownie any time I want so we can talk about old times."
Johanna laughed. "Dad, you're kidding."
"Actually, I'm not. Brownie and I had good times together."
"Does that mean I get the new bear?"
"Johanna, do you remember what I said a few minutes ago? This bear came in a box addressed to The Brightson Family. That means all of us."
"How can we all have the same bear?"
"First, I think we can all vote on a name for the new bear. Then we can set up a schedule so that each of us gets to take care of the new guy, one day at a time. Do you think that would work?"
"I know what we should name the bear."
"Mom, I think we should name him Buzzy, after your bear that you had when you were a little girl."
"What a sweet idea, Johanna."
"Great idea," said Geoffrey. "Are we all in agreement?"
They all nodded.
"And I think it should be Mom's bear."
"My bear? Why can't we share him, Jonah?"
"Well, we'll all get to see him, so in a way he belongs to the family, and he'll be living in our house. But I'll be getting Dad's old bear, Brownie."
"How do you know that Grandma Louise will part with him?"
"Because she likes me. A lot."
"What about me, Jonah?"
"Dad, you already said you would have some kind of rights. I forget. But you said you would visit Brownie if I got him."
"Well then, what about Johanna?"
"Dad, I've got a zoo in my room, bears and a lion and a giraffe, and dolls. I'm OK. I think Mom should have this bear. I wonder where he came from."
There was a knock on the back door. Then the door opened. "Anyone home?" It was Grandma Betty. Suddenly the entire Brightson family felt uncomfortable.
"In the dining room, Mom." Madeline wondered what her mother would say when she saw the bear.
"What's going on? Oh, what a nice bear. A Steiff bear, I see. He has the button and the tag. He's definitely the real thing. Whose is it?"
"Mom, we found a box on the front steps. Someone left it. It was addressed to The Brightson Family. So I guess the bear is for all of us."
Jonah spoke up. "No, it's Mom's bear because you threw away her old bear when she was a kid."
"Well, it's true, Mom."
No one spoke for a few minutes.
"You're right, Jonah. It should be for your mom, if she still wants a bear. Over the years I've thought about Buzzy. I shouldn't have thrown him away." She gave a little smile to her daughter.
And suddenly Madeline knew who had given her the new Buzzy, though she never did find out how the bear happened to get to the front steps.