Like a lot of girls, I’ve always loved teddy bears—way more than dolls. I’ve had a lot of teddy bears; still have several, and still get new ones. But my favorite teddy is the one my dad brought home to me from a trip he took when I was 6 months old. I have older ones, and prettier ones, but none better.“Pinky” started out as a beautiful, fuzzy, pink and white teddy. I’ve never thought about whether it was a boy or girl; it never mattered. It was just Pinky. You probably wouldn’t want to give it to a baby now, because Pinky has had a hard life. That lovely pink and white fur is gone in many places, showing the bald fabric. Only in the bend of the legs or the edge of the “snout” can you still find the original color. The back is ripped, and has been carefully mended. It has been dirty, vomited on, washed, and combed. I slept with that bear night after night for years. When I was growing up in Kansas and the tornado sirens would sound, Pinky and my blanket were the first things I grabbed to take with me to the cellar. That poor bear has been hugged, squeezed, and loved on to within an inch of its life. But that’s the very best kind of teddy bear—the one that quietly gives you what you need most: love.
I have some beautiful teddy bears. Some have soft, silky fur. Some were given to me by friends or boyfriends. But I wouldn’t trade Pinky for any other bear you could buy. That teddy is the one who has gotten me through hundreds of nights; has never failed to comfort me; never judged me for my fears, and never left me unprotected. Hideous, filthy, and bald as he may be, Pinky will always be the best bear in the world.