As I may have shared once before, when I was a little boy I had a Paddington Bear, whom I loved dearly. I liked his foppish yellow hat (stuffed with newspaper to help maintain its shape) and his blue coat. I loved that he had been a gift from my Grandma Duns. I took him to bed with me each night, along with my blanket, for comfort and security.
That is, at least, until my brother took Paddington from his secure abode on my bed and brought him into the kitchen and put him on the (hot) stove. In a burst of smoke and melting synthetic fibers, I was left with a singed and smoky toy...and a bear-sized hole in my heart.
For many, many years I lived with this gaping wound, a deep scar that I never managed to get over. It was until I was 24 - just before I entered the Jesuits - that my parents took steps at putting this aright by buying me a new Paddington bear. This Paddington came with me to the novitiate and also lived in New York for three years (he's a cosmopolitan sort, enjoying the Bronx and Manhattan far more than the Deepest, Darkest regions of Peru).
This summer, as I moved my worldly possessions from New York to Cleveland to Detroit, Paddington was lost. Again, old wounds were opened and I think that most, if not all, of my struggles stem from not having Paddington around. I asked my family members numerous times if they'd seen him and it seemed as though none had...Paddington, it appeared, had taken a train back to his native Peru without saying goodbye.
So last night, after a few moments of talking on Skype with my mother and niece, I slipped in a query about Paddington's whereabouts. Wouldn't you know, they have been concealing him in my father's closet all of this time. In short, I caught them in their devious plot to destroy me by keeping me from my old friend. So I've now secured a promise from my mother that she'll bring Paddington up to me next month so that we can be reunited. This is the second overt attempt by my family to destroy me - first 23 years ago by incinerating my bear, more recently by taking my new bear hostage.
I'm sure I'll get over it.
This promises to be yet another really busy week. Fortunately, I don't have to travel anywhere next weekend so I'll have time, I hope, to keep the blog updated.