My Teddy Bear Dad

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

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Carrie Pike

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Carrie Pike is the founder of Carrie Bears, www.carriebears.com, a company that helps family members honor loved ones who have passed on. By taking something associated with the deceased --a shirt, a favorite blanket, a uniform -- and creating from it a 20-inch teddy bear, Carrie has found a way to bring tangible comfort to those experiencing loss. Carrie is passionate about helping others through the healing process of grief. Hundreds of individuals have come to Carrie for a bear and have left with lighter hearts after sharing their burden with this compassionate listener. One of the highlights of Carrie’s mission of healing came when she teamed with the Caring Connections and several volunteers from the Salt Lake City community to make grief bears for the fallen New York City firefighters and police officers following the attacks of 9/11. Carrie was able to visit with some of these families in person, an experience that deepened her appreciation for others and her reverence for life. In addition to her work with Carrie Bears, Carrie has also spent the past 20 years in the insurance industry. She is an active community volunteer, and has served for the past ten years on the board of Caring Connections, a program to bring hope and comfort in grief. She resides in Salt Lake City with her husband, Steve, and their five sons. To Listen to Carrie on Open to Hope Radio

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