I have another story that is really special ...
After I made my friend Donna a real mink bear from her moms old collar , you know she just had to show her off to the anyone. Well...her sister in law was just dying to have a bear. She said; " I don't have a fur but my husband does...it use to belong to his little petite aunt Betty who was a buyer for I Magnin in N. Y. for years... until she died at age 92.
He has kept the beautiful mink stole in the closet loosly covered with muslin for at least 15 years and is very protective about that stole. He's a conservative man but loved his aunt a lot. I Magnin gave the stole as a gift to Betty years ago as an award for her years of service ?... she wore it to work every single day along with a petite pearl bracelet .
They decided they would try and talk to him ( gang up, he, he) about having a mink bear made from Betty's stole. Reluctantly he gave in...The ladies excitedly called me. I always ask several questions about the person who originally owned the fur;It gives me so much more of an idea of what I want to do to create this special bear for the person.
What was aunt Betty like, her favorite color, what would have been her prime years; 1950's. and are there any other pins, jewlery that could be used ? Wonderful...they rushed right over with the georgous stole and 2 gold pearl coat pins, and the bracelet .You could tell the stole had been an expensive one...
So... I made aunt Betty as the rag doll type ( so animated ) with head ,paws and feet from dark mink fur ...like Donnas bears and dressed her up to the hilt... She wore a mauve silk taffata 1950" raglan long sleeve gown with a pleated cumberbund waist band , full skirt. Underneath was a silky slip with lace edge and she wore long legged "tricot" nylon panties with the typical side slit , pink bows and tiny rose.
The bracelet fit just perfectly for a necklace ,I turned the gold pearl pins into dangle earrings . Oh my, the jewlery was real gold and real pearls.
As I was making Betty I had a story line in my head; Oh, yes...she would be going to the I Magnin Annual Ball so she will need a sequined mauve envelope purse with a satin cord handles, that really opened as she would have to have her real " invitation " to pass the door men. That turned out real cute...
The ball was held at the Bilton Hotel on Honey Suckel Lane , in the Holly Woods and offered plenty of Limos and honey cakes, etc....what fun I had with that. I have a copy of it in my bear remembrances book .
... Betty was done but as I posed her for the photo shoot I just felt something was missing...but what ?
Oh , I know...she must have her mink stole ! I just HAD to make that for Betty to be complete...Oh, how perfect that would be ! The girls were not expecting it but I would design it for Betty must have it...to be Betty!
A week later and several trials in fake fur to design the ACTUAL repliqua of Betty's stole...I finally had it....I was absolutely on my own high for Betty to look so cute... I used the embroidered Betty name that was on the original stole inside the bears stole... they are going to get a kickout of that !
Time for pick up...this is going to be fun. The gals showed up and squeeled with delight at every detail of
" Aunt Betty from I Magnin " ... What a pleasure, we all had fun with this love gift...
I heard about it later...The wife presented Aunt Betty to her hubby, he was absolutly astonished and was so taken by her that he chocked up....... He now keeps her in a glass cabinet where he can see her everyday and anytime someone new comes to the door, first thing he does is to run to that cabinet to get aunt Betty to introduce her to them....
The end to another happy story...... ...Winney
Another one ???? Do I have more ? Well....there is the one about the FIRST jointed real fur bears I ever made ...I easily got myself into this one... a bit over my head, any time, any place....which is usual for me as you will see....I will call it the story of faith hope and charity ...sorta........
I heard the Anaheim Doll & Teddy Convention was due to open in the Anaheim area, in fact right across from Disney, I live about 4 miles from there ! Goodie !!! But I was totally broke ...really broke...I mean not even a piggy bank of change broke. I thought; Why is it whenever I could get a chance to possibly forge ahead I can't because I never have any money .I know If I could just go it would really lift my spirits and I could see other artists work and talk to people...price materials ....after all it is market research . If I could just go, I may meet an opportunity ...who knows?
So.. I told my hubby I was going..He says; " What for? You don't have any money to spend". I said , "I am not going to go with the idea to spend money...I am going for exposure and to learn from others." Beside , sometimes you never know who you will meet or what you will see that can make a difference ". That drew a blank...so I added; " I am not going to miss it this time.... , I will take the $5. entry to the show out of the grocery money " If you can take me I will save $3. parking and then pick me up at 4:00 , OK ? He said OK....
Oh boy !!! Turn me loose ! I paid for my ticket and could hardly wait to get in. Holy Moley there was 400 booths ! Way back in the room there was two lines of tables all connected together that went from one side of the building to the other just full of all the judged entries . Party Time ! That took me at least an hour to go thru, what a wonderful bunch of bears and dolls , vinettes, etc. I had to keep my mouth closed so I did not step on my tongue.
Now for the booths.. Oh my gosh I saw Kathy Myers ! Her fur bears are to die for...she sold out within 30 min. of opening. I shyly asked her ;" What kind of needle do you use to emb. the nose"? She said; " A sharp one " Ha..I thought that did not answer a thing for me, was she being rude ?Hmm, don't know... "( Later on, I found out there is a needle called a Sharp )
I just wandered the isles for hours being drawn to sculpting demos, bears, dolls, fabrics , trims ..... anything that caught my eye.....Eye candy,,,feels like Christmas..... what package should I open next ? What am I looking for ..dunno but I will know it when I find it......just then, right next to me I spotted a lady's booth where she had a huge array of fabrics and loads of neat trims, etc...I just sort of stood in one place while I scanned her area like a survalence camera.. ... l love fabrics, I love materials to create with...boy I wish I had some money !...now, now, you said you would not covet, help me here Lord.
The conversation started with the usual. She was from Wisconsin, doing this show because the gentelman she nodded to sitting over there..... well ,his wife passed away and left a garage and warehouse just full of stuff like this, I am selling it for him. As she was talking.. I was politely looking at the stuff when all of a sudden my eyes lit upon a bushel basket in the corner full of .... and before I realized it I said out rather loud..... FURS !!! I need those furs !!!
She stopped talking as we both went to the basket... I said ," oh I'm sorry ..to cut you off.... I make real fur bears and I could really use these furs ". She said; " You make real fur bears ? ?? Oh that's just too wonderful! Her eyes lit up and she blurted out " I can't believe it ! Before I left for the show my daughter said ;" Mom when you get to the show ,try and find someone that makes real fur bears ".She threw her hands up waving them around in unison as she said: " I have my daughters white stole in the motor home, I'll go get it "!!! ..and off she went in a flash .
I thought...oh boy....I'm in trouble now..........
While she was gone I thought; How am I going to get these furs when I don't have any money? She wants me to make a bear ?.... I have never even made a jointed fur bear before ..don't know how...... oh heck it can't be that hard...but what do I charge ? Better think fast before she gets back... OK $10 per. inch, same as mohair bears .
She was back in a flash too...holding up a very pretty white mink stole, called Rare Blue Emba ( Mink ) .
" My daughter got it as a gift for having the highest in real estate sales for one year, it is really special.
Can you make 2- 14 " bears ? How much would you charge ? I said $10. an inch is the usual , that would be $140. ..she said; "For both bears" ? I could see she was not familiar with artist bears prices..I said; Nooo...for one... and her face fell but I quickly said...." Now, don't fret...... maybe we don't need to exchange any monies ......at all."
What would you say to a trade ?...Her eyes lit up..OK ! So, I got the basket of furs and a bunch of other neat items like antique trims, burnt velvets amounting to $ 280. and I gave her my little old out of date business card, we shook hands smiling and that was it....A deal on a promise and a shake..don't you just love trust when it happens?
When my husband picked me up I was dragging 2 huge bags full of " stuff" I needed to start my business up making real fur bears. I said " Honest honey...I did not spend a dime ".
So you will know...I did make the " twin" bears for mom and daughter and they turned out really pretty...I found out what it was like to emb. nose's on real pelts and I taught myself to scissor sculpt..Funny, I should have been freaked out to even cut into that stole...but I wasn't....some things are just ment to be.
I made them long scarves from the beige satin lining with lace on one side and a small lace ruffle at the bottom, one bear had the owners emb. name, Linda , on the scarf. I made a few pink satin rolled roses that had a special loop in the back to tie the scarf thru....fuss, fuss, fuss .Oh don't they look pretty !
After they were shipped I pondered over how the bears came to be...What an unusual odd happening that I should meet that lady out of 400 booths, that needed a bear....two bears....that would supply me with enough mink fur collars and other materials ...that would not cost me even a dime......that would give me the chance to spread my wings to create ......and give me the validation that I could rise to the occasion and lift my spirit.
But then ...maybe it was not a happening out of place or by chance ....... so this is what it is like to be on the receiving end of a blessing of a gift of faith, hope and ...charity . Thank you Lord.........
The end of another happy bear story..............
PS. Sometimes, more often than not, we bear
makers are the object of an unsuspecting blessing.
Wonderful story, Winney!
Interesting thing about faith... it usually takes some action before we see results. I'm so glad you got that big blessing! Burnt velvets? I've never heard of those but they sound very sumptuous...mmmm!
My computer still won't let me see your fashion ladies, but I had the privilege of seeing your beauties when you sent me a link to your online album awhile back after we met at Lincoln City, so I don't feel too bad.
Actually, I can't figure that out about Winney's disappearing photos. They were visible to me last night when I posted them and I've checked and rechecked my use of the [img] tags for a possible error and simply can't find one
Winney, any chance your album has changed in the last 12 hours? I linked directly to those album pics in my post...?
Wow what wonderful stories Winney.
I think I would like to share a special story with you...is is sad though.
August 29th 2004, 8:45am, I got a call from my dad. He sounded very sad. He said, " I have some terrible news. There was a fire at Lorna's (my sister) house, and no one got out."......my heart sank to my toes. "no no no NO NO NO!" I screamed. My sister Lorna, her husband Mike, and thier 9 year old son, Hayden all died. I was hysterical. ....... and I had to be to one to call my mom .
Then 20 minutes later, my dad called me back. He said, " Judi, It gets worse."....how can it possibley get worse!? He said, " The police said it looks like a murder suicide." Dear God! no no no no. This was a happy , beautiful family...they had everything.
To make a very long story a bit shorter: Mike Waleskowski, my sister's husband ,was a police officer for the City Of Waterford, Michigan. He had been a highly respected police officer for 17 years. Not one scratch on his record..ever. In fact he was awarded the MADD (mothers against drunk drivers) award five years in a row. He adored my sister and thier son. The sun rose and set on his wife and child....which in a twisted way, his murdering them was a twisted act of love. He could not let them feel his shame. That is what he wrote in his suicide note.
Mike,stole $466.00 form a police lock up that belonged to a prisioner. He neede to pay a tax bill, is what he said....and he was trying to figure out how to return the money. He was caught on tape, confronted, and suspended. They drove him home in mid shift which was 3am. Loran and Hayden were asleep. By 4am he has typed the murder suicide note. His son was "camping" in a makeshift tent in the family room. He shot him in the head while he slept.....carried his body upstairs and placed him next to my sister. He shot her in the head, shot the dog and wraped the dog Ginger, in a blanket and placed her on the bed too. He then torched the house and shot himself. They were found all together.
Three fire fighters were hospitalized trying to save one of thier own. One fell through the second flour to the basment.
The devastation this has brought to so many people is unbeliveable. They were all so well liked in thier neighborhood and community. When I got tho thier house, thier were stuffed animals lined upo along the garage door with notes from Hayden's classmates...he was to start 5th grade on Monday. The neighborhood held candle vigils outside the charred house two nights in a row. The community was in shock....not to mention my family.
Many of you may have heard the story. It was so horrendous it made national news, and headlines for more than a week in the Detroit area. We even had to have police protection at the funeral home to keep the press out our faces. My own doctor heard about it and personally came over to my house with a big basket of lavender scented goodies.
Mike was not a horrble person. He loved his family very much. We don't hate him. He must have been in a very dark place at that very moment.
Needless to say my bears came to a screeching halt. I had just started needle felting on wool and couldn't wait to tell my sister about it. SHe and I were very close. SHe was 15 months older than me. We grew up together...my mom said we were like twins. Hayden was my Godchild. He was bright, talented, smart, and just a gorgeous little boy. Mike was a doting father who did so much with his family.
I needed to start healing. Writing and sharing my story really helps me to heal. I designed a special bear in memory of my sweet Hayden. I named the bear ,
"Hayden's Cub". Then I heard about the Steiff contest. I was not sure if I even wanted to enter. There was no way I would make the top six...but what have I got to loose. Well, I left it to the last possible minute to send him off. In fact, I did not even think I would make the cut off deadline. My mom did not want me to send him or ever sell him. He was too special...and the bear even looked like Hayden. I sent him.
A couple of months later I got a call from Steiff. Hayden's Cub was chosen for First Place. They said they loved his eyes. I KNEW my nephew made my bears eyes twinkle for the judges. oh, how I wish my sister could know this. How proud she would be.
"Hayden's Cub was created in the loving memory of a little boy who will never grow old. He represents the child in us all who will never outgrow the warmth of a teddy bear"
I have to say that at this moment I am the happiest I have been since the death of my family members. A great deal of this has come through connecting with such nice peolpe as you all are in this forum....and of course my faith.
Teddy bears have saved my life.
Thanks so much for letting me share this with you. It was not easy for me to type with tears in my eyes.
BIG HUGS to youall,
Oh my gosh Judi,
Thank you for sharing such a difficult part of your life with us. Mere words cannot even begin to tell you how so very, very sorry I am for that horrible loss. In this short time I've gotten to know you online I have come to consider you a good friend... and I hate that something like that could have happened to anyone, but especially to a good friend of mine. I wish I could just give you a great big hug right now....
I had thought that Hayden's Cub was an adorable bear before ~ but your story just made that sweet cub all the more special.
Judi, as you know, I've heard you tell this story before. What you might not know, though, is that your grace and compassion and eloquence always inspire me. That such qualities could spring from such a tragic loss is astounding... and wonderful. I'm so glad for you and your family, and the healing process attached to both, that you were able to find a creative, aesthetically beautiful, sweet and cuddly way to celebrate Hayden and the entirety of the family that loves him, despite the mourning and sadness and real sense of, "this didn't need to happen" incredulity that surrounds it all. You bring honor to everyone with your forgiveness, and your desire to focus on remembrance of all that was good and kind.
Big hugs to YOU, Judi. :):)
I am in awe of your sweet spirit giving so generously to all of us, and since you do it with us I know you do this with everyone. Teaching classes while you deal with the spiritual and temporal grief. You exemplify the very essence of He who works through us. One has to be listening to do His will, and I suspect you listen most all the time.
I totaly understand Mike's convoluted logic, psychologically he truly believed he was doing the right thing. I am so sorry that he acted so quickly, part of his strength
You have touched and humbeled me by the way you told your story showing the beginings of healing and the rememberances of the good in all three of these lovely people.
Thank you for sharing the pictures of your family. They truly were/are beautiful people. I don't believe that death is the end, I believe your sister is with you always.
Thank you for the beautiful example you have shared of how to think, act, believe. Even if you tried to hide your light under a bushel-it would still shine through, it is that strong.
Judi - I knew about Hayden and Hayden's Cub, but didn't know the circumstances under which your family died. So very tragic . . . and I am so sad for family and friends that are left to wonder why it happened. I understand fully how teddy bears saved your life - they saved mine also, and probably many more than we realize. May you continue to work through your grief and give so much pleasure to others with your wonderful teddies. Big hugs,
Judi...Words cannot even describe the kind of grief that you and your family has been thru, my heart goes out to you , I am so sorry that happened.
It is true that each time you tell your story you give a small part of your grief away, it in itself is healing. Makes a person wonder if any good at all can come from such trauma...but my prayer is that every time you do share this story that it turns peoples hearts towards you and their own families and that they experience such a sensitivity, awareness and a huge amount of compassion towards those who need our love and understanding .
LIfe can become so complex , many of us do not know when in our own families who is going thru what at any given time and life can change things so fast., We are all vulnerable and cannot control traumatic things happening...all we can do is love our families... Families are so precious .
That little bear does look like your nephew and seems to carry his boyish " essence" ...he is a doll, I'd keep him, he means so much to you. May the Lord minister to your heart every day Judi as you heal...Lots of Fuzzy Hugs,....Winney
Oh Ladies. Thanks you ever so much for your kind words. I am deeply touched....and flattered beyond words that you think so kindly of me.
Have you heard of the song, Prayer of Saint Frances? It is also a hymn at our church. I heard Dr. Wayne Dyer's daughter sing it on Wisconisn Public Television and it stoped me cold. The first line reads..." Let me be a channel for your peace" Dr. Wayne Dyer pointed out that St. Frances was not asking God to bring him more peace...he was asking God to make him a channel for his peace. I cannot even begin to tell you how I that has changed my life. I say those words several times a day and I get chills.
EVERYONE: I HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMEND Dr. Wayne Dyer's new book..."The Power of Intention" I watched him on Wisconsin Public Television doing a talk about it. His words changed my life in such a profound positive way, I wish everyone could see this. I am looking for the DVD that was shown on TV. . While I was wacthing , I was going to do my sewing....I was so gripped by his every word that I could not sew. Instead I grabbed a pad and paper and started writing things down.
You never get over something like this. You only learn to live with it. Thank you very much for allowing me ot share this with you...it really does help.
big hugs! Judi
I'm so sorry you've had to experience the loss of your dear ones, especially in the tragic way it happened. Please know that I share your grief and pray for continued healing for you and the rest of your family. I appreciate the beautiful thoughts expressed by the other members here, and I agree that as horrible as it has been, God will make some good come of it, if in no other way than through your enduring faith and forgiving heart. I pray that the world will be touched by your generous love. I feel privileged to share in the deep trials of your heart .
Bless you, Judi,
You've got a really rare talent, and your incredible sweetness comes through even on MY monitor!!
I KNOW you'll see your sister and her family again. The moment my dad died, though I didn't know it at the time, I was out shopping, and I had a very weird experience. I checked my watch before entering a video store, and went into something like a sudden out-of-body interlude.. I was swept into the air by something and flown over the nearby streets (like Lois Lane!) then dropped back. I wasn't scared, I was strangely elated, and it was a thoroughly joyous experience. When I got home, my husband met me at the door and told me my father had died, and when--it was to the second. My dad always found it easier to make jokes than to express emotions, but I think this was his way of saying goodbye. Nothing like it has happened to me before or since.
I read your story this morning, but was too choked up to respond, and I have been thinking of you and your family all day. Thanks so much for sharing this with us. I knew when I first saw the photo of your bear "Hayden" that he was very special -- but I had no idea just how special he is. Steiff couldn't have made a better choice. You have done a marvelous job of portraying Hayden's sweet spirit through this very special bear.
The power of the teddy bear -- they can celebrate joyful moments in our lives, and also be a force for healing from great sorrows.
My sister went to hear Dr. Dyer speak in San Diego earlier this year, and was very moved by his message, also.
Judi...Try and call the TV station about that vidio. Tell them you are a relative and so desire to get a copy of it. I am sure you will be able to track it down .
You know ,I was thinking about how the teddy bear is such a symbol of love and is part on many charity causes. I remember years ago when I lived in a very small town here in Oregon our police Dept. needed to raise funds to add a " soft room" onto their dept. for traumatized children... I worked for a Rehab. Center for the Disabaled and taught a teddy work shop to the clients there... Myself and a handfull of people volunteered and set up a booth for the local fair day in a grocery parking lot...where we had a teddy coloring contest for the kids,adults could purchase bears to donate to the soft room , we raffeled off several really nice teddy bears, I was surprised at how much the people responded but they overwhelmed us all... The dept. did build their softroom . We were only a small part of the donations but it turned out so well...
Why I am bringing this up is..I came from a family police background..my first husband was an officer, .even peace officers need help sometimes...they have such stressful jobs . I know larger depts. have counseling ,etc.
When my brother in law of the L A P D got polio , he had 6 kids, he of course got sick, disability pay, insurance etc... but it was really their church that pulled them thru over the long haul...over many months.
I don't know if there is, but it would be nice if a dept. had a " soft room "( for lack of a better word ) funds raised by officers ....for officers families that go thru specially hard times . ..Just a thought, HUgs, Winney
I want to copy all these posts by all of you lovely ladies so I can save them and read them when I am feeling down. Thank you for all your hugs, Donna, Laura, Laure, Winney, Shelli, Eileen, Dilu, Nancy, Sue Ann, and EVERYONE else that has had a kind thought, word, and prayer.
Winney I think that is a wonderful idea to have a 'soft room' at police stations. I know you are all familiar with Nancy Tillberg, bear artist, author, computer wiz (had to add that!) and a good friend of mine. She has helped me a lot through this. She is a police officer in Canada and she told me she carries teddy bears in her patrol car incase she needs to give one to a child in need..maybe frightened by an accident or any other reason where they may need some extra comfort.
Eileen that is so interesting what you said about your experience when your father passed. Amazing. At exactly 5:45 CST I was wide awake on Aug 29th. It was a Sunday. I am NEVER up that early. I told my husband as he was getting ready to go out and milk the cows, that I was so wide awake...and I wanted to sleep in. I ended up just getting up and putsing around...I felt wierd.
ANYWAY, the police report stated my sister's time of death was 6:45 EST which is 5:45 our time .....exactly the time I looked at my clock. My husband pointed that out to me. Isn't is strange how things like this occur. I guess we just don't know what goes on, on the other side. I wonder if teddy bears are allowed there?
I am so glad I had the courage to share this with you. I have been wanting to for a while ...but was a bit nervous how the reaction would be and I have to say I am over whlemed by your responses. I know I am gushing a bit here but I think this subject is worthy of it. I wish I had found out about this forum a long time ago.
I'm so glad you shared that with ME!! Sometimes it's hard to tell which side of the lunacy line you're skating on, unless you know it's happened to someone else.
All night after my father died, I had weird visions/dreams--I know that I was at least partly awake, because I had a fussy wide-awake tot in bed with me, plus two other kids draped in various awkward positions on top of me. What I kept seeing were faces of various dear departed, as if at a cocktail party (didn't see any drinks, alas), laughing and talking--except that their faces were constantly shifting between old and young and middle aged, so that they seemed all one.
As I told my Sunday School teacher when 7 years old, 'If dogs don't go to heaven, I'm not going either!'--same goes for bears.
FOR EVERYBODY ELSE--keep those good stories coming!!
Hi Judi, I think we all feel very privileged to share in your grief, but for all youve been through I,m sure you will be a much stronger person. You have been in my thoughts for most of to-day and I hold you in very high regards for the experience that you shared with us all.. It must have been so hard for you to come to terms with ,but you have shown us your strength,and Im sure you will be looked after by those up above. All my Love. Rita xx
Judi, I am so glad you shared your story with us...and perhaps it was waiting for this time...good friends you can trust with your heart....but I am sure you will be able to share it also with others in the future , maybe not of this group but where ever your life takes you .....whenever you r spirit feels down please contact several or one of us so we can lift you up with love...Hugs, Winney