AN AMERICAN TALE

Once upon a time in a world far, far away there were three bears: a Momma Bear and two baby bears. They lived in a nice suburban house, went to a nice suburban school and had nice suburban friends. Something, however, was missing.

Big Brother Bear was gone—in Columbus. And Daddy Bear—he’d moved too. For reasons quite forgiven and oft forgotten, the parent bears were forests apart.

One day, (a Wednesday, 5:30, by court decree), Poppa Bear came for his girls. No one answered the door.

A car filled the garage so his horn blared loud. Still no answer.

“Send the kids out!” yelled Poppa Bear, “…Or I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down!” But the girls stayed in and Poppa Bear went home. There would be, he knew, another Wednesday.

The week flew by. The baby bears called their Dad saying they missed him. They were so confused.

“Mommy says you’re not a bear—that you’re The Big Bad Wolf,” purred The Little One. “And Mommy loves me but I love you too even ‘though we only talk on the phone.” The older cub—the one they said looked like Poppa…the one with his eyes—-was more contrite: “Come see me at Lindsey’s” she urged. “I miss you.”

Again Wednesday came and this time Poppa Bear dug in. By 5:15 he drove over with his forest friend, a fox named Ed. From an unmarked car, first hitting *67, they called:

“Hello,” she answered.
CLICK
“They’re home!” came their roar of triumph.
But the door stayed closed…and no bears pranced out.
“This isn’t right,” sighed Ed…and with Fox as his witness, Poppa cried out:

“Send them out NOW or I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down!”

Still nothing happened. Oh, The Little One called, days later. “It’ll be easier when I go to college,” she sighed, (but to Poppa Bear that seemed a long way off).

It was sad for everyone. Everyone. Poppa missed his cubs. He knew too, the girls missed family. The woods were dark, in need of light.

“Let’s talk to the owl,” urged The Fox. “He is wise; he will know.” (And with that, Ed and Fozzie bounded to Chagrin, to Coffee/Creations. There, in that first booth on the left, they’d find wisdom).

“Children know,” The Owl nodded. “They know…. To you they’re but baby bears—not so. They hear, but are afraid to speak. They see, but are afraid to act.” Then he smiled: ”Be patient, be kind, reach out. They will call when they can.”

Some advice is just too hard to take. For years Poppa Bear tried to huff and puff and blow down walls. It mattered not. He needed, it seemed, to just give time time; he needed, it seemed, to accept that there is an awful lot of law but very little justice. And he needed—as much as anything else— to just listen to The Owl…and be patient, and kind, and reach out.

Each girl, in time, went off to college, each to roam a forest of her own. The Little One reached back, and the blue-eyed one too…, and all the creatures in the forest rejoiced at the wisdom of The Owl.

That, though, is the irony of it all.

The baby bears, you see, indeed did hear; the baby bears, you see, indeed did see. Too well.

One is now a Momma Bear, miles away. And Poppa Bear? He is now, (of all things), Grandpoppa Bear.

Oh…and Ed? He too is still around, but the coffeehouse is gone, replaced by a franchise.

And, sadly… today…in a forest far, far away, there are more walls—walls only love can climb. And at Caribou, this afternoon, The Fox will again lament “This isn’t right.”

Today, though, Grandpoppa Bear, is in some ways The Owl. Older, (maybe even wiser), he’s not huffing or puffing or trying to blow any house down. Waiting, rather, he’s touching those he can, and praying that the new baby bears will hear…and see….and go to college…

And that everyone will live happily ever after.

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