Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Bear Named C. P.

C.P. is a 3ft stuffed teddy bear with a leather nose, felt stitched paws (the left one has a squeaker in it) and chocolate brown glass eyes that appear to look into your soul. He also is possibly the softest, most huggable teddy bear I have ever held. C.P. was so named for my stepmother, Celma Pearl. She brought C.P. to Texas on an airplane… he sat in his own seat I’m told… when she came to visit for my baccalaureate graduation from UTMB in December 1987. She died 3 months later, from an apparent heart attack, during her sleep. I hope she knows what a wonderful companion C.P. was to me, and what a special little character he was with my hospice families.

C.P. often accompanied me on my hospice visits. He sometimes rode on a small cushion or a box of ‘blue pads’ in the back seat ... securely strapped with a seat belt. He was known to wear sunglasses and a large hat at times. At night he gave the appearance of an old man sitting in the back seat, thus I felt safer and not so alone out on the highways at all hours. I suppose this behavior might sound a bit strange (certainly not if you know me!) I'm a grown woman after all, but I AM a bit eccentric when it comes to my Teddy Bears. And C.P. was/is very special to me. He was always willing to listen, he never said “I told you so”, he kept all my secrets, he was very understanding. He was safe, gentle and his hugs gave a comfort that was indescribable.

I was not alone in C.P.’s fan club. One such person was an elderly woman diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Mrs. M. had taught music and given piano lessons for years prior to moving in with her daughter. Her disease had progressed to the stage that she would sit for hours in a rocking chair and never utter a sound. There would be brief moments when she would sang a song, or hum in response to her daughter’s voice, but these moments were rare. Her foot often kept time with the continuous Country & Western music on the radio, but there was rarely any expression on her face. She would pull away when I touched her, or look into my eyes with a far away stare. It was as if her mind was an empty dark room with only an occasional flicker from a candle. Those all too brief moments of light were a treasure to her daughter and I was privileged to witness such a moment with C.P. one afternoon.

I had finished my nursing tasks… I had discovered I could do these tasks if I moved slowly and sit on the floor by the arm of her rocking chair. I had even resorted to deception on occasion, by saying “Dr. Stone” had sent me to check on her. The mere mention of this beloved memory would allow me to take her blood pressure or listen to her heart. C.P. was sitting next to me as I crouched on the floor by Mrs. M’s feet. Her eyes suddenly appeared focused with a sparkle and an arthritic hand reached out and traced the edge of C.P.’s rounded ears. A faint smile tickled her lips as I gently raised the bear to her lap. She cradled him in her arms and for several minutes she rocked to and fro, caressing his soft body with her hand. Mrs. M’s daughter and I sat quietly and watched, our vision clouded with tears, as Willie Nelson sang in the background. The candle suddenly flickered and went out, her arms became limp, the eyes appeared to glaze over and she receded into that dark room again.

Not even the little teddy bear could coax her out again, although he tried on each later visit. C.P. and I would bask in that special moment for weeks to come, though, and he rode in the front seat of honor on his visits thereafter.


Tatersmama said...

See? I'm crying yet again.

Moments like this were the reason I chose to work in a residential care facility for so many years.
Sometimes the light from that single flickering candle, could light up my days for weeks afterwards.

Thank you for sharing this...

Bz said...

I remember you going out at all hours. Wouldn't want you doing it now ...not because of your age... but, it's not as safe these days. Yeah, it's always "not as safe" as time passes... but it's true. I'm glad C.P. was with you ... you'll never know if he thwarted some nefarious event.