But we do have a large, matted, much-loved (and very unhygienic) stuffed bear at Maseno Mission Hospital. He has served long and well as a comforting pillow for our patients. He arrived here several years ago, the gift (after $62 "duty"/ransom was paid) of U.S. church friends. His seams have been re-sewn countless times, and his fur has been rubbed off in several places. The bear disappeared awhile ago from the wards. He had been relegated to an ignominious existence in a storage room. When we found him, his stitched-on smile had frayed to threads, and his once-shiny nose was dulled by dust.
His eyes were still bright, however, so over the weekend I brought him home to Rotary House for a bath.
First, however, he and I spent a few hours in storage-room "surgery." The bear's head was flopping, his seams were split, and his stuffing was well over half-gone. Fortunately, the somewhat powdery remnant of a foam rubber mattress was folded next to him. After a few hours with bandage scissors, my knuckles were blistered and my sinuses were clogged. But the mattress was recycled, and the bear had new "muscle mass." Most importantly, he also had a respectable bear-belly once again.
Before his Omo bubblebath, I stitched up seams, embroidered a new mouth and added an unfortunately lascivious-looking felt tongue. After his sun-dried air-freshening, I polished his nose with magic marker. Sawa! Our good-old Bear is now as real as the Velveteen Rabbit. And for the moment, at least, he shuffles again between Wards I and II. This is as close as I'll ever get to being a surgical nurse, and it's not much of a mission legacy. But "we can do only small things with great love..."
And with great apologies to our visiting infection control nurses.