Paying It Forward Is New Motto

A reader tells how paying it forward became her motto after the death of her son.

| January/February 2013

  • Teddy Bears
    After the loss of her son, Patti began paying it forward by sewing memory bears for a local hospice.
    Photo By Fotolia/tverkhovinets

  • Teddy Bears

My way of helping others is to pay it forward! I began living with this motto two years ago, after my son died of cancer. It began when a friend asked me for a piece of his clothing, something special to me. The article of clothing came back in the form of a memory bear, and I loved it.

I then decided to make one myself. My old Singer hadn’t been used for years, but it worked to make two different bears from Kansas City Chiefs football shirts, because my son loved the Chiefs.

When my friend encouraged me to sew memory bears for a local hospice, I joined a group and did just that. People provided favorite shirts, blouses or robes of loved ones, and we cut, sewed and stuffed them, and then returned the bears to hospice.

Most families I have never met, but just knowing I have helped others who are grieving is gratifying. Receiving the memory bear from my friend helped me, and I know the memory bears I make help others. To date, my old sewing machine has stitched more than 50 colorful bears.

William Faulkner said, “It is the writer’s privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart.” I can say the same about sewing memory bears for people who are hurting. In the case of making memory bears, there’s an added bonus for me, because each time I return a finished bear to hospice, my own heart is lifted.

Saint Joseph, Missouri

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