Gifts of Love
©  Ferna Lary Mills
I wouldn't admit it to just anyone. Sometimes I refuse to even admit it to myself. The truth is, I
really am in love with
Winnie the Pooh. Thinking back, I can't remember ever NOT being in
love with Pooh. This wouldn't be such a crime if it weren't for the fact that I'm now middle-aged
and my children are all grown. In fact, I have always been so drawn to Pooh that when I was
forty years old, my mother bought me a 3-ft.
Pooh bear for Christmas. It even made my
daughter mad, for she knew the present held a Pooh and she thought her Memaw was playing
a trick on her, that it was really supposed to be her gift instead of mine. She was wrong.

Mom knew
exactly how much I loved Pooh.

There's just something about that silly looking bear that gets inside my heart and makes my
spirits soar. Maybe it's the way he says, "Oh, bother" instead of expletives to express his
displeasure. Or maybe it's the fact that he's plump and doesn't seem to mind, an attitude I've
tried to master for years.

Pooh is my idol. There. I've said it. That 3-foot Pooh is now the master of my roll top desk and
oversees every word I write. He doesn't complain or nag. Just watches. When I'm in the middle
of a story and can't figure out where it's going, I stare into Pooh's button eyes and seek his
wisdom and insight. To achieve this insight, I have to remember the Pooh Rules. Yes, Pooh
has rules. Of course, being Pooh Rules, they are simple rules and I've discovered they are
rules I can apply to every area of my life.

Never complain, even if you're stuck. Eventually you have to get un-stuck. It just might take
awhile. But if it takes awhile, it's a lesson in patience. Patience is a good thing.

Be resourceful. If you can't reach what you really want, create a new way to get it, no matter
how crazy it may seem at the time. There are more ways to do a thing than just the old way of
doing it. Doing old things in new ways or doing new things in different ways is being creative.
Creativity is a good thing.

Never give up! When surrounded with trials, keep striving for success. There are only so many
bees in one hive. If you try and fail, don't look at is as failure, but rather look at it as finding
another guaranteed way that won't work. Oh bother, it's only one more step towards success,
or two, or three. This is fortitude, and fortitude is a good thing.

Never forget your friends. They will pull you out of even the tightest places. NEVER get caught
in a tight place without your friends or you will be stuck there for a very long time, and that's
lonely. Loneliness is not a good thing.

Last but not least, always stay close to your honey.

Okay, so maybe there is more to life than Poohlosophy, but it certainly keeps me going, even
in the worst of times.

When my mother was in the hospital with terminal cancer, it was hard to find any joy. In fact,
everything was hard after the doctors told us that she would only be with us for a little while
longer. I brought her flowers, only to be told that her immune system was so low that she
couldn't have them in her room. I couldn't bring her books to read or crossword puzzles to work
for she didn't have the strength. I couldn't give her anything. All I could do was sit and talk with
her, and watch her condition deteriorate day by day.

We didn't talk about dying. We tried, but it was too hard. We both wanted her to get well, not
die. Mother had lived with me for the last twelve years of her life and there was nothing else to
say. We had said it all. The dark gloom in that room was more than either of us could bear and
we both struggled to find something to say that would lift the gloom, even if only for a moment.
How many times can you say I love you? Maybe not enough, but we said it o
ver and over

As they took her to the lab for the daily ritual of removing the excess fluid building up in her
abdomen from her cancer, I decided to take a break and go to the gift shop. Surely I could find
something to lighten our hearts. Walking past the shelves of candies, cards, and flowers, I
found him!

Pooh was sitting on a shelf all alone, which is a predicament in which Pooh would never want
to find himself. When I picked him up and hugged him to my chest, I was quite surprised! This
Pooh sang! I lifted him up and stared into his eyes as he sang his silly exercise song, "When I
up, down, touch the ground, it puts me in the mood, to up down, touch the ground, in the
mood.....for food..." and he continued singing his silly song until he ended with "I improve my
appetite, when I exercise." This little song was accompanied by "Pooh giggles" throughout and
you just couldn't listen to him with a straight face, no matter the circumstances going on in your
life at that moment.

Standing in the gift shop with Pooh in my arms, the tears rolled down my face. Not tears of
sorrow, but huge tears of joy as I laughed for the first time in weeks. Now, I would never tell
that sales clerk, but I would have paid a hundred dollars for that Pooh, or any other price at
that point. I quickly paid for Pooh and dashed back to my mother's room eagerly waiting her
return from the lab.

The nurse came in before my mother returned and when I squeezed Pooh for her, he sang his
cheerful song again. The nurse cackled and we both laughed until our sides hurt. We were on
the "death floor" of the hospital and laughter doesn't come easily on that floor. She called in
several other nurses telling them they just had to come see this toy. Eventually, there were
nearly ten nurses and nurse aides standing around giggling and laughing as he sang. When
my mother returned from the lab, her room was bursting at the seams with laughter. There
were nurses, aides, janitorial staff, and even a couple of visitors from the hallway who had
stepped inside to join in the fun, all crammed into her little room.

As we made way for her bed to be put back into its place and her tubes and connections all
reconnected, her face was filled with wonderment. I eased up to the edge of her bed and said,
"I love you, Mom, and I have a gift for you." Handing her the little Pooh, I gently squeezed his
tummy as she reached for him. Instantly, he began singing again, and the crowd behind me
began laughing again. But there was no joy like the joy I saw in my mother's face. She grinned.
At the end of her life, facing death squarely in the face, she grinned! That may not seem like
much, but it was all she had the strength left to do. As she grinned, her eyes sparkled, the
tears welled up at the corners of her eyes, and she mouthed the words, "I love you, too."

She held onto Pooh for a few more days until she slipped into a coma. Pooh sat by her
bedside when she was transferred to Hospice even though I never had the desire to squeeze
his little tummy again. His delightful song was too out of place for this place. Four weeks later,
mother went home to be with the Lord, leaving Pooh, and me, behind.

I took a long time to work through my grief. So many things to do. Death things. I stayed too
busy to grieve at first. After a few months, it finally hit me. Mother was gone. I sat in her room
and cried my heart out until no more tears would come. Worn out, defeated, and now totally
exhausted, I picked up the last sack of things from her room and headed out to load them in my
car. As I hugged the sack to my chest, I heard it.  Muffled, in the bottom of the bag, Pooh was
singing! I dropped the bag instantly, rummaged quickly through the articles that had been
packed from Hospice into that sack, and found him still singing his silly exercise song near the
bottom of the bag. Hugging him close to my chest, my heart soared with joy. Even though she
was gone, I felt like I was still close to my "honey".

Years have gone by, but I still abide by simple Poohlosophy in every area of my life. The big
Pooh still sits on top of my roll-top desk, and the little Pooh has a special place on my bedside
table. Yes, I'm an adult and much too old to be playing with toys. However, I don't see Pooh as
a toy. I see Pooh as a gift.

Mom expressed her love to me with a Pooh-gift long after I became an adult; I was able to
express my love to her with a Pooh-gift in the last days of her life. After she was gone, the Lord
was able to use that same Pooh to remind me that the greatest gift is love, no matter what
shape it takes, even if it takes the shape of Pooh. Love is eternal. It never ends, and although
she has gone on to live with the Lord, that love continues forever, for she's always in my heart.

There will come a day when we will see our loved ones face to face again in that most
Glorious place. Yes, the Lord gave us the greatest gift of all. With His death and resurrection,
He promises us that now
Life is forever! That was His gift of love to us. May God hold you
close and lead you to that place of Peace.

As Pooh would
probably say, "Oh bother, my story is done. I must be going now."

I hope this story gave you a smile. I smile every time I remember these events, even through
some tears even now.  May
God bless each of you and give you peace.


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