I do not have many memories that involve my Father, but this is one of those. It also involves Teddy, one of the first bears I remember owning.
As a tiny girl I occasionally visited my Father for days out in the city. On the day in question it was warm but grey. We went to one of the many open spaces along the Thames and we went boating. A tiny wooden paddle boat, faded and flaking blue paint outside and greying white inside. There were no life jackets, but there was a red and white ring on the river bank. I don’t remember getting in the boat but in the boat I was imagining the boat was bigger and my Dad would come home with us so we would be a “normal” family. Even as a tiny wee thing back then I knew living with the Grandparents was a bit odd.
My sister and I both had very scruffy teddies, baby blue felt, and quite flat with a black string mouth and button eyes. I suspect my Nan made them but I can’t ask her. My bear went everywhere with me, even to the loo. Teddy was like other childrens “blankies” – Mum would have to take it away to wash when I was asleep because it was not leaving my sight when it was my choice.
If I had old photos I am confident you will find what looks like a blue rag in my hand in many of those sepia tinged Polaroids. My Teddy. So there we were going along a slow bit of the Thames in the boat and Teddy went over board. I cried, well actually I pretty much howled “TEDDY, BLUE TEDDDDDDDY!”
My Father reached for him with the oar, no good, Teddy had found a minor current and was floating off. Dad leaned over a bit further but the boat wobbled too much for me and I screamed. There was nothing else for it… My Father went over board!
I was laughing so much, he was shivering but he got the little blue bear. It was not as deep as I had imagined, he was walking waist high not swimming. The river was full of pond weed and what was like an underwater grass. He squeezed Teddy to get some of the water out of him. Teddy stank but I hugged and kissed him. I didn’t let Dad back in the boat though! He dragged us back to the river bank. I was happy and warm and laughing, for him it was a morning to forget I bet. Unsurprisingly Teddy was clean and nearly dry by morning, and smelt a lot like laundry soap. Cheers grown ups!
I have had my own version of this, Jen dropped his Beaver in to the river in Italy, and I balanced upside down using boat ropes to stabilize myself whilst I rescued it. Up I came to a mix of clapping and laughter from locals and a very relieved child. I stayed dry though, which is a plus.
Teddy himself is long gone. I might draw a picture later.
Disclosure : This post isn’t sponsored, but I was asked to post a story about my first teddy.