Deborah Sloan's Bear
What would you save? Brown the Bear. I won him in a raffle in 1993 and was going to give him to a well deserving child – it just turned out that child was me! My first marriage was ending, it was a difficult time and I just seemed to hang onto him.
Why is this item important to you? Because he’s been on so many adventures and travelled so many miles with me. Miles in the physical sense, as I was cabin crew back then and took him on all my trips, but also in the life sense. He got me through a lot.
I used to put him in my suitcase which went in the hold and never lost him. Once I did forget to pack him though. We were in Japan and I was packing in a panic to leave the hotel. I got to the airport and realised that in my rush I’d forgotten Brown. I immediately found the ground staff, explained that I’d left something important in my hotel room and asked if they could call to see if it could be posted to me. The staff member asked, “What did you leave?” Slightly embarrassed, I said, “My teddy bear”. She said, “Oh NO! not your teddy bear! What’s its name?” and straight away she called the hotel. All I could hear was “[Japanese words] Brown, [Japanese words] Brown, [Japanese words]...”. She put the phone down and said, “Don’t worry, we’ll organise it”.
Relieved, I got on the plane but soon got anxious wondering if I’d ever see him again. Then the captain announced, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we are all ready to go however we are waiting for a very important person to board”. And to my horror, the ground staff colleague came running up the aisle, through a cabin of irritated passengers, waving my bear, shouting “I have Brown! I have Brown!”.
When you hold this item what do you feel? Very comforted. He’s lovely to hold and makes me think about all the times we got through together. He was especially helpful when I was living on my own the year after my divorce. He’s easy to talk to and a great listener!
If he got destroyed in a fire, I’d feel as if a part of my story had disappeared. He’s been a witness to some amazing trips, some wonderful times and some sad times - like when I was stuck in Seattle after 9/11. I think he became a lucky symbol for me. Which eventually became troublesome because it got to the stage where I couldn’t travel without him. And yes, I’ve turned back on the motorway to get him!
And then one day I decided that I couldn’t risk putting him in my suitcase anymore (and there was no room in my cabin bag!), so Brown the Bear hung up his wings and retired. It was strange travelling without him at first. He’d become quite famous amongst colleagues who would ask after him. But I think because I felt safe and more settled it became OK to leave him. Although leaving him at home wasn’t completely risk free, as he did get attacked by the cat once. But that’s another story!
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