When my ex was nine years old, his mother decided that he was too old to keep a teddy bear. She made him take the stuffed bear out, put it in the trash barrel, and burn it. In my mind I could see him standing there in the smoke of the fire, a boy watching his teddy bear burn. My heart hurt for him.
Yet she was a good person, a traditional oldtime Italian mom
whose mother came over from the Old Country. They didn't like letting boys be soft. Soft might be a boy who kept a teddy bear too long. Then there was the time he came home crying because some boys had bullied him. She didn't comfort him. She scolded him for crying and told him to stand up to them.
His father was like that too. He didn't want his son to be soft. Sometimes his father was insensitive, amazingly insensitive. He knew where there was a hornet's nest in a hedge but didn't warn his son and acted as though it was funny when he saw his son put his hand in there and get stung.
Back when my ex was a boy in high school he dislocated his hip playing football. They called his father to come and get him. His son was lying on the field, unable to stand up. His father stood at the edge of the field near the car, waving his hand for his son to get to the car. As though he could.
They were good people. I don't mean this to be critical. The reason I am describing how they were is because these are people that 99.9% of those who knew them would describe as good parents and as good people. But they weren't perfect people. When they died, they were mourned and I am sure they are missed. I've missed them and was happy to know them.
They live on in my memory, imperfections and all. Imperfections give a color to life. They aren't always beautiful but they add texture and depth. They are the stuff of good comedy, the meat of tragedy, the basis of Shakespeare's plays. They are the stuff of our sitcoms, they give our comedians a reason to get out on stage. Where would we be without our imperfections? There would be less to gasp at and be appalled by but also less to laugh at. What a bland textureless world it would be.
I doubt that the teddy bear story is shared by my ex with many or any people but I hope that he and his sister and brother reminisce about the old days when their parents were alive and were aggravating, insensitive, and loveable all in the same day. There was a lot to laugh about and some to groan about . Some of the worst stories of the good bad old days make the best stories to share later when you can enjoy the laughter and commiserate with others over the stories that make you cry.