Friday, September 18, 2009

The Mama Bear on the Ceiling

I cant exactly say when I first noticed the mama bear on the ceiling of my parents bedroom. Whether it was when I was really small and occupied that bedroom with them or later when I was just plain small and my mother was dying. Perhaps it was sometime in between. Whichever it was I did notice her, the mama bear on the ceiling.

I think the first time I paid her (the mama bear on the ceiling) any real mind was the first time my ma went into hospital. I didnt know why she went, I was told nothing. I only knew she was gone and I wanted her back. From the first night she was gone, my dad slept on the couch. He couldn't sleep in their bed without her. From the first night she was gone, I slept alone in their bed, because I couldn't sleep anywhere else. Each morning I slept in that bed, I awoke to the mama bear on the ceiling.

She of course wasn't a real bear, she was actually a water spot that my dad had painted over several times, and each time, she bled through refusing to leave. I remember staring and staring at her, wondering what her life was like. I knew she was a mama bear because she looked like a bear, kinda a teddy bear who was standing at a stove cooking, with a small baby bear standing beside her. She also had on an apron, so I knew she couldn't be a daddy bear. My dad always cooked on weekends, when he didnt work, and I never once remember him wearing an apron. I used to love when he made waffles. He made the best waffles ever! To be honest I've never tasted a waffle since. He is dead now too and out of my insane sense of morality I would never even try another waffle since it would be a waffle he didnt make. So yeah, the apron, the baby, the stove, the cooking, she was a mama bear. And because she was cooking for her baby, I knew she was a loving mama bear.

Sometime after my ma got out of hospital and everything was okay again, per usual we went "up north". We had a cabin a few hours north of where I grew up. It was a small red cabin trimmed in white, planted on three lots. My dad put in indoor plumbing so we would have a toilet and running water. When we first got the cabin we had an out house behind the cabin, painted red also and also trimmed in white. We had a water pump in front of the cabin. I have vague memories of enjoying using that old water pump, I thought it was right neato! Much more neat I thought than just turning on the tap. The outhouse however I could have done without! Spiders!!!!!

The cabin was located in this tiny tiny town called Dodge City, which was replicated to look like Dodge City. The small main strip was old western. Even had the places where you could tie your horse up, even though you rarely saw a horse. Our cabin was nearly right across from the main town strip. I loved running over to the local store there, Kernes, and getting candy. They had different candy than the stores I was used to. They also had, down the road from us a fancy gift shop which seemed out of place there. Everything there was rustic, indian, cowboy except this fancy gift shop with the lady owner. I never liked her, could tell straight away she didnt like kids. I remember she wore glasses, I think they made her seem even more brusque.

I went in there the friday we arrived and right off I saw this solid rubber bear! It was her. The mama bear on the ceiling! I wanted to buy it soooo bad! I had a whole dollar. I was quite spoiled then, I usually was given a dollar every day we were at the cabin. A lot of money for a 5 y/o old at the time. The year before that my dad bought me a red mini bike which he fashioned himself with training wheels! But I was five now and could ride it without. My brother had a dirt bike and a BB gun. We were both pretty spoiled. I checked the price of the mama bear, THREE DOLLARS!!! I felt a punch in my stomach, then my mind raced forward to comfort me with the idea that if I dont spend any money I would have enough sunday to buy the bear before we left to go back home. I calmed down. I had a plan.

Sunday came and I drove my little red mini bike down to the fancy gift shop to buy the mama bear. I was so excited and so happy. I took the bear back to our cabin and gave it to my ma. She seemed perplexed for a brief second, then said that it was so nice she was going to put it on the small shadow box that hung in the living room of the cabin along with her antique knickknacks. I felt very proud. We went back to my home town where my mother would die of cancer about six months later.

I dont know whatever became of the mama bear on the ceiling, nor the rubber mama bear I bought my ma. Which btw was the ONLY thing I ever bought my ma. They, like her exist now, only in my mind, except for where they now exist here, on the page.



  1. wow - that's a really touching memory of your childhood and your mom. Really sweet.

  2. A beautiful and touching story. Thanks for that.