November 9, 2012 by Katia
This is Blue Bear. I’ve mentioned him before. It would be impossible to talk about 3 year old without mentioning Blue Bear. Blue Bear is the name of this, my son’s best friend. When we ask 3 year old who his favorite people are he says 12 week old, mama, daddy and Blue Bear. Blue Bear is the teddy bear’s name. Not blue. 3 year old will correct you if you call this guy Blue instead of Blue Bear. It’s also a friend, or a big brother – I haven’t quite figured it out yet – not a favorite toy.
Blue Bear is from Israel. He flew to Canada, where I now live, with my mom as a gift to 3 year old from my mom’s aunt, who is also my auntie. She is not really my aunt, but I’ve always called her that, ever since I can remember and I am not exactly sure why.
This is my aunt. An ageless lady who is the embodiment of human kindness and optimism. But that makes her sound a little idealized, saintly and therefore boring. Not like the woman who gets so passionate in a debate about politics or the current state of the theatrical art that she’ll raise her voice at you while calling you ‘my darling!’ and verbally rip your head off if you happen to possess the wrong opinions about Benjamin Netanyahu or Chekhov. My auntie is a drama professor in one of Israel’s leading schools for the performing arts and she was teaching up until recently at the age of 88. She is also the subject of this photo I took a few years ago which entered a contest, and was featured in an exhibition bearing the name ‘Love Objects’ if I am not mistaken. My auntie was on her way to the exhibit, when she fell on the bus and broke her hip. She is not hospital material and throwing around a red ball in group physiotherapy is not really her thing, so she recovered very quickly from this fall and continued teaching.
More about my auntie: She moved to Israel from Russia as a mature person and was able to learn a new language from scratch but she made the language her own, as they would say on American Idol. She unmistakably uses the wrong gender for people and often for nouns and coined a few expressions that are impossible to translate. She uses adjectives one would normally use to describe people for objects. I think she believes that everything has a soul, even vegetables and inanimate objects. That is why her apartment is full of lamp shades, little woven stools and baskets she rescued off the streets. Needless to say she also rescued two black cats. My auntie finds joy in everything and is just as good spreading it around her and I think she planted a seed of joy in Blue Bear before it was passed on to 3 year old. Or maybe it wasn’t just joy but something even bigger something that is uniquely her. How else would you explain my son treating an inanimate object, Blue Bear, as the most important family member, often calling out ”Blue Bear, I’m back!” or “Blue Bear, where are you? I missed you!” when he comes home from school. Blue Bear is such a humanized character that I always feel slightly uncomfortable telling 3 year old that Blue Bear is in the washing machine so I come up with excuses for his absence, because imagine how you would feel if someone told you your brother was in the washer when you asked for their whereabouts.
3 months ago when I had 12 week old my mom flew in again to help me out. With her she brought a promise from my auntie that she found a brown bear for 12 week old. A brown bear, said my auntie, that she believes will become to D what Blue Bear is to B. Before she carried out that plan my auntie broke her hip again and has been in the hospital for the last two months. Away from her cats and her profession my auntie is sometimes lost. But while her mind plays some tricks on her I think it’s her spirit that brings her back to her own self serving as a stronger reminder on who she really is than the occasionally confused mind.
The other day I was talking to her on a long distance call to the hospital. ‘I heard you are writing’, her voice sounded rushed and intense. ‘It’s very important’, she continued, ‘write, write, write’! I promised her I would do just that. This one is for you, auntie, straight from my funny little purple computer.