Edinburgh’s Pandas Vs. Daddy’s Teddy

Colin was not a keeper of things. The one thing he held onto from his childhood was this worn old panda with a scarf around his neck that his Granny had made for it. One of the saddest tales Col ever told me that just made me want to cuddle him was the story of his first weeks at Oakham boarding school where he had come to from Kenya at the age of eleven at his own request. He did his big puppy dog eyes when he related how some of the big boys had stolen Panda and dangled his beloved bear out of the dorm window by his lovingly handcrafted scarf. Poor Panda and poor Col. He used to say this moment had scarred him for life in his overly dramatic way.
In the early days after Col died I gave Evie his Panda and she kept standing on tippytoes with him held as high as she could reach. When I asked her what she was doing she told me she was sending Panda hugs to Daddy. Now Evie has sort of re-adopted Panda in these last few weeks. She doesn’t sleep with him or anything, Big Bunny still holds that special place, but Panda is fished out if Isla is crying as Evie believes he will heal all ills. If I weep I am asked: “Do you need a Panda cuddle?”. Last week Panda had to be taken to nursery along with a photo of Col so that Evie could share with her new friends her daddy’s favourite toy. I was told a few of the staff shed a few tears that day.
Today, Isla Baby, Evie and I all went to Edinburgh Zoo with some friends of mine and we went with our pre-booked slot to see the Zoo’s elusive panda visitors. . The world and his dog may be booking in to see these rare bears but while peering through the glass at the real thing all Evie could talk about was Daddy’s Panda. And rightly so. What’s an endangered species compared to something tangible that she can hold onto as a two-year-old and beyond that belonged to her dead Daddy and that he loved so much he still got misty eyed at 38 when he spoke of it?

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