Who would ever have thought that a small little brown bear could have such an impact on so many lives?
In 1999 when my husband Charlie was diagnosed with lung cancer and had to have part of a lung removed, he received a very special CARE Package from Cheryl Perlitz, a speaker friend of mine. Accompanying it was this note:
There are so many who will be with you both all the way through this journey, no matter where it leads and how rough and tough it gets. Hopefully that will make the path a little smoother for you.
I am sending you this little brown bear that was given to me the day after my husband Tom died by my childhood friend, Marjory. Marjory was given this little guy by a friend when she was recuperating from colon cancer surgery. When she finally knew she was “a survivor”, Tom died, and it was time to pass him on to me.
Those cute little beady eyes watched over me and reminded me that I am loved. For four years I have had him sitting on the table next to the bed. So now I’ve finally “rounded the bend”, and I think he has another duty to perform. I’ll miss him, but I know he will be in the perfect home.
That little brown bear sat on the nightstand next to Charlie’s bed, even on the many days when he was in the hospital, until his unexpected death in May of 2000. From that day on, I “adopted” the bear as my soulmate and confidant as I worked through the loss of my husband and then a subsequent move two years later that involved the loss of EVERYTHING that was familiar in my life. He bore the brunt of many nights of agonizing tears and aching loneliness, and he was always there waiting when I came home to an otherwise empty home after my many travels and speaking engagements. He truly was an anchor in my life as he had been for Marjory, Cheryl, and Charlie.
Just before Christmas this year, four and a half years after Charlie died, I began to realize that I was finally nearly whole again. I have made some wonderful friends in my new home, and I truly feel as if I finally “belong” here, I have started dating and have met some wonderful men, and I have hope and joy in my life again for the first time in the nearly six years since Charlie first got sick. I knew it was time to share my little bear with someone else in need.
I had been praying for several days about who needed the bear the most. On Tuesday of that week I received a call from Jeff Fendley, a client of mine who has become a precious friend. His dear wife, Caroline, died last fall after an agonizing bone marrow transplant, leaving Jeff with two young sons, including Andre, whom they had just adopted from Russia, and Daniel. Jeff has a very stressful fulltime job and no family in the area, so he is just holding on by a thread these days and has had no time to even truly grieve his wife. After that call, I KNEW that Jeff and his boys needed the bear.
That night, amidst a lot of tears, I took several pictures of my angel bear, packaged him up in a pretty gift bag, and the next day mailed him off to my friend, Jeff. A part of me felt as if I were sending away my best friend, and there were a few moments of panic, thinking, “What if something happens and I need him again?” But then my new, stronger self took over, and I realized that this was a life marker moment for me: I no longer needed the constant reassurance that I was loved. I knew that in my heart and that was enough. And best of all, in my healing, I could share the gift of caring with someone else who really needed a special little friend right now.
Who would ever have thought that a small little brown bear could have such an impact on so many lives? I wonder where his next home might be……….
© Barbara Glanz Communications. All Rights Reserved.
Barbara Glanz Biography
A member of the prestigious Speaker Hall of Fame and one of fewer than 700 Certified Speaking Professionals worldwide, Barbara Glanz, CSP, CPAE, works with organizations to improve morale, retention and service and with people who want to rediscover the joy in their work and in their lives. She is the first speaker on record to have spoken on all 7 continents and in all 50 states. Known as "the business speaker who speaks to your heart as well as to your head," Barbara is the author of twelve books including The Simple Truths of Service Inspired by Johnny the Bagger®, CARE Packages for the Workplace, and 180 Ways to Spread Contagious Enthusiasm™. Voted "best keynote presenter you have heard or used" by Meetings & Conventions Magazine, Barbara uses her Master’s degree in Adult Learning to design programs that cause behavior change. She lives and breathes her personal motto: “Spreading Contagious Enthusiasm™” and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and www.barbaraglanz.com.