The Story of Woody
My friend Robin found Woody washed up on the beach by the Juneau airport flats in the summer of 1994 while out walking with her sweetie, Mark. Woody had been washed up by the tide and had come to rest beside a rotten, gray piece of driftwood. Robin gingerly picked Woody up by the ear while her partner skeptically inspected him and suggested that she place him right back where she found him -- that he was of no use to anybody and was full of sand fleas and dirt. So Robin placed Woody back where he was found, and she and her partner walked away.
Woody's resting place, revisited
The next day at work Robin told me about this bear she had found on the beach. I couldn't believe that she had just left him there and suggested (demanded) that she take me out there on our lunch hour. So we frantically drove the ten miles to the airport, walked/ran to the end of the trail and found Woody, still there, covered with mud, dirt and sand fleas, just as he was the day before when Robin and Mark had pronounced him useless and left him in the grass. I picked him up by the ear with my thumb and forefinger and inspected him as the water dripped out of his padless feet. I knew I couldn't put him back by that piece of driftwood and explained to Robin that we were taking him back. I placed him in the plastic bag we had brought for the occasion and we raced back to work, carrying Woody in the trunk, lest he create a mess of seaweed and saltwater in the back of the car.
After work I brought Woody home, ran him a bath and soaked him good in soap and warm water. I didn't think he'd mind one more waterlogged experience if I promised him it would be his last for a very long time. After he dried for three days in the July sun and all the sand fleas had either gone to rest permanently inside his form-stuffed body or crawled safely away, I brought him indoors for the final set of repairs. His shoe button eyes were still perfectly in place, but his ears were askew and he was minus a nose and mouth. After a few hours of thread, wool, a stiff comb and TLC, Woody came to life. He looked around his new home and was greeted by the dozens of other bears peering intently at the newcomer, eagerly awaiting the "arrival" of their new friend.
I don't know all of Woody's story. I wonder by what means he ended up on a rocky, grassy, muddy beach, next to a trail often walked by my friend Robin. I wonder who he loved in his other life and all of the aventures he has had in his past. I wonder who tucked him in at night; or threw him away. I wonder if he fell out of a boat; or out of a garbage can. The answers to these questions are Woody's secrets and although I may never know all of his story, his adventures will be told for years to come as the bears all gather around a circle in the middle of my living room on the nights I'm away, or fast asleep, and listen to Woody tell of his adventures and the miracle that brought him to our warm, safe, happy teddy bear family.
Woody today sitting in his chair with his friends.
Love to all, Vicki and the bears