I decided recently that I wanted to start sketching more (especially useful as a “warm-up” to start the day). This is the first day I am doing it and as I looked around the office for something to draw, my eyes fell on this guy.
When V’s dad was first diagnosed with cancer, I had the idea that we should go to Build-A-Bear and make him a bear. He and his wife had been talking about their lady bear and they obviously got a kick out of her. They enthusiastically told us about her likes and dislikes, and how she traveled with them to Switzerland.
At Build-A-Bear we carefully picked out this fellow’s components - a hypo-allergenic fur, and of course, a Jedi outfit. We had him stuffed after I started his heart in a procedure I never expected to perform for a stuffed animal. Instructed to fill out his birth certificate, I panicked. What would we name him? I decided on Maurice, in honour of Maurice “The Rocket” Richard. Plus, it seemed he needed a French name.
As we’d hoped, my father-in-law and his wife were thrilled with Maurice. They took photos of him with their other bear, told us how he was doing (apparently Almagel, his companion bear, was teaching him French). Even when he was in the hospital, his wife would play the sound of the bear through the phone for him every night.
After my father-in-law died, his wife thought that Maurice would be better off returning home to us. We received the box with him inside along with a surprise: the stethoscope that had served V’s father for his entire career. Not expecting this addition, the sight of it hit us like a physical pain. It was so much his.
Now, Maurice occupies a place of honour on our shelf. It’s still hard for me to look at him because in a way he has come to personify my father-in-law himself. He sits a quiet vigil next to a photo of the actual man, reminding me every day that you don’t have to win every battle to be a big damn hero.
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