The Teddy Bear Legacy

Bev Copeman holds the “Just Because” bear she and her sister have cherished over the years.

The holidays are about traditions and memories. The memories are what is holding Beverley Copeman together this Christmas. She lost her sister and best friend, Shirley, this past September 30.
The siblings were especially close. “When we were little, my mother made us dress alike and we hated it.” But they grew up liking the same type of clothes and years later, on their mother’s 85th birthday, the family had a party. And who would have guessed, but the sisters were dressed alike without even trying. They had the same shirt and the same pants. The family got quite a kick out of the coincidence.
Although not physically close, Shirley lived in California and Beverley in Colorado (before moving to Lime Springs), they kept in close contact. One of the traditions the two shared was writing poems back and forth to each other.
They liked the same clothing, sharing poems and collecting things, but each enjoyed a different item to collect. Beverley likes coffee mugs (and hubby Duane says she collects cook books) and Shirley collected Teddy Bears. Lots of them! She even had a tree with Teddy Bear ornaments
So, when Beverley saw a forlorn-looking blue Teddy bear at a shop in 1985 for a quarter she just had to get it. “Shirley collected bears and her favorite color was blue. So I bought it.”
She sent the bear and this poem:
The Lonely Teddy Bear
I was sitting in a garage sale—all alone and blue
When this lady picked me up and said, “This will never do! . . .
Why I know just the very place for a lonesome Teddy Bear;
I’ll take you home, and pack you up and send you right out there—
Where there are lots of Teddy Bears; and you need not be lonely
As the only blue that you will be is in  your color only . . .
For you will soon be all fixed up, and very soon you’ll be
One of many happy bears beneath the Christmas Tree!
Everyone will smile at you; you’ll be glad you’re there—
A member of the family—A CHRISTMAS TEDDY BEAR!”
So she packed me up into this box and sent me out to you.
Please take me out, give me a hug and make these things come true . . .
So there’ll be a happy ending to this little tale
Of an old and lonely blue, blue bear from the garage sale.
(It was signed: Dear Shirley, Here’s a “Just Because You’re my Sister” present. Love, Your Sister Bev.)
And, being the person she was, Shirley fixed the bear up and sent this reply:
My box was opened and I felt much better
“Oh!,” said she, “A bear carrying a letter.”
The letter was read—I was hugged; my eyes were poked; my nose was tugged.
“Well,” she said, “What a HAPPY surprise . . .
A sad blue, blue bear with Orphan Annie eyes!
Yes, little bear, you MUST live with me
And be part of my Teddy Bear family.”
So I was scrubbed, fluffed, handled with tender loving care;
A new bow—Is this really me? . . . the old blue Bear???
Then I was hung on the branch of the tree
With bears all around smiling happily.
I came as a gift of love—a love to share
And that’s what makes me a Real CHRISTMAS BEAR!
(Dear Bev—Thanks for the “Just Because You’re My Sister” bear. Love, Your Sister Shirley.)
(Dear Lady—Thanks for sending me to this very special place. Warmly, The Just Because Bear)
So, the story could very well end there, but luckily it doesn’t. After Shirley passed away, her family decided to donate her tree with 279 Teddy Bear ornaments to JS House at Kaiser Hospital. “It is a legacy from Shirley. Any child who stays there is allowed to take one bear ornament to keep.”
Since the tree went up, the family was told the kids love the tree. “They like playing with the bears and putting them back, even though they have been told they can keep one,” Beverley commented.
Not all the bears were donated to the tree. Special ones were kept by Shirley’s family and one particular blue Teddy Bear was sent back to Iowa, where it sits in a special place to remind Beverley of traditions and memories.


One Response

  1. One correction in the article about Bev. There were over 500 bears and decrations on the tree. The tree was one of five we put up every year. It has a very good home now and will make a lot of kids very happy….Bo Roberts (Bevs brother-in-law.)

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