Growing up, I was a little afraid of my dad. He had a bark that was
loud and, I thought, fearsome. But as I grew older, I came to realize that he was just a big olʼ teddy bear inside.
Twelve years ago, Dadʼs passing inspired me to start a company called
Carrie Bears. My mom, in her grief, had said, “What do I do with all his
clothes?” I started by making teddy bears–Carrie Bears–out of his clothes for my siblings. And that is where it all began.
As Fatherʼs Day approaches, I think of my dad and the many things he
taught me. He was my protector as I walked to school and was so afraid of the dog on the corner. Heʼd hold my hand and tell the dog to be on his way, or to stay right there while I safely hid behind his towering broad-shouldered body. My Raggedy Ann lunch box in the other hand, Iʼd skip the rest of the way to school knowing that there werenʼt usually any other dogs outside of their houses.
My dad taught me to love clam dip with Ruffles potato chips. He took me fishing early in the mornings. He taught me to play tennis–something he loved. When I had a bad dream in the middle of the night, heʼd let me slide in bed with him and my mom until I felt better.
Showing me by example, he worked a good hard dayʼs labor and then took time to relax. Dad had a contagious laugh and sometimes talked in his sleep. I remember once he must of been dreaming that he was Santa because the “ho, ho, hos” just kept echoing through the door. He had a big heart and would do most anything for anyone. He may have had a few rough edges, but Dadʼs inside was full of good intentions.
We recently moved Mom to an assisted living home. My siblings and I
have been cleaning out the house that she and my dad lived in for over 50 years. What treasures we have found! One in particular was my Dadʼs
Letter Sweater from Dixie College, where he lettered in tennis in 1949.
For Motherʼs day this year, I turned that sweater into a Carrie Bear for my dear mom. The second she saw it, she gasped and the tears came — for both of us. Oh, how we both miss him! In that bear is my Dad–all wrapped up, made of scratchy old wool, but soft as anything inside. Something to hold onto.
Carrie Pike 2011