How did a small bear start a big adventure and what did he learn? Here is a story, based on some true events.
Chapter 1 – The beginnings. How Tommy came to the Alsace.
In August 2020, a family in Brida posted this message in the Brida Journal:
“Lost a very tiny brown teddy bear, about 7-8 cm tall, somewhere in Brida South. Most likely on the beach. Please let me know if you found him. This bear is a very important member of our family. You will be rewarded.
The family posted the message again in the “Welcome to Brida” Group on WhatsApp last week.
“Missing. Have you seen this Teddy Bear? If you have seen him, where? Please send a message.”
When Frank saw this posting, he commented on what had happened a few months ago. Chahira, from Bejaia in Algeria, wrote at the time:
“If he had been in my area, I would have helped him and taken him home first. Then I would have posted him on Facebook so that his pictures could reach the bear’s owner. The bear will inevitably remain sad until he finds the person he used to live with. By the way, he is so cute”.
It was Monica in Dublin who saw the message in the Welcome to Brida group and she wrote:
“We have a teddy bear with your description in our classroom. Children were very happy to play with him and they even gave him a name: Tommy. Why? Because he has a big tummy, and he is hungry all the time. Is that your teddy bear? Please let me know so I can send him back to his family.”
Julia, over in Mannheim in Germany also saw the message and sent a reply. However, she also opened the door to an incredible possibility.
“Oh no! I haven’t seen the teddy bear. But I hope it will be reunited with its family soon! When I was a child, I loved a book about a rabbit that got lost too. But he decided to travel the world and send letters to his family. Maybe you know him?”
Frank combined Julia’s thought with Monica’s message and especially, her use of the past tense. He had to pursue this and so he wrote a message to Monica:
“Hmm, Monica. I’m a little curious. You said the children “were” very happy to play with him and then you continued “and they gave him a name”. Is he still there or has he moved on? You used the past tense.
Julia, I am beginning to think that he has read the book you mentioned and decided to explore the world too.”
Monica duly replied and shared a little what about Tommy had been up to.
“You are right, Frank. We have the teddy. He is still here. The big children went to big school and now Tommy is waiting in the library, in the company of some puppets. I think it’s better for him to travel back home.”
However, by now, others in the group had become aware of Tommy’s situation. And they commented on it. Monique, from Seebach in France, wrote,
“I also think he must travel around the world. If he passes through France, he will be able to stop in our region. We will accommodate him for a few days and make him discover our beautiful landscapes. Maybe, he will not even want to leave again.”
And further east in the Bavarian town of Nördlingen, Walter wrote,
“I think we should let him have a travel partner so that he is not so lonely when he travels around the world.”
Soon, everyone was thinking about what to do with Tommy.
Frank wrote, “Tommy is originally from Brida, so near the French/Spanish border. I think Walter has a good idea. Walter, where should Monica send Tommy, the next destination? Bavaria, or to the Alsace, or to Mannheim so that he can say hello to Julia? Or, perhaps to Olivier to discover Paris? You choose!”
Walter thought Tommy should actually decide and also wrote what he could offer him.
“Ask him what he likes best. All of Europe is beautiful. I have beer and white sausages.”
Monica, being pragmatic, took over the reins and made an announcement.
“Ok, I am going to check the flights and announce the destination.”
And so, Tommy spent another night in the school library, in the company of some puppets, completely unaware of his own fate.
The next day, Frank had some thoughts and of course, some questions. First was, what advice could the group give to Tommy? He remembered that Julia had travelled far away and had gained valuable experience. Would that be something for Tommy? Frank posted in the group:
“Tommy will continue his travels from Dublin to a new destination. Julia has some brilliant advice for Tommy. Please share some of your advice so that Tommy can have a great experience.”
And he provided the link which tells the story of Julia’s exciting experience. You can read and listen to it here.
But Frank was also curious to find out what Tommy had been up to in Dublin. He asked Monica a question:
“Monica, did Tommy write a diary or record his adventures in your school?”
Frank also thought about Walter’s comment on finding a travelling partner for Tommy. Who could accompany Tommy? Then, he had an idea. Would a certain “Mr Cuddles” be interested? He sent another message.
“Hi Carolina, Would Mr Cuddles be interested in joining Tommy on a trip? I will explain in a minute.”
About an hour later, Carolina, who lives in Wissembourg, sent her reply.
“Hi Frank, Yes, I think a trip is what Mr. Cuddles needs right now. Lately he has been feeling a little bored and he would like to meet new friends and experience new adventures. What should I pack for him?”
She also sent a picture of Mr Cuddles, lying on the sofa, basking in the sunshine.
“I’m ready for a new adventure” was the caption.
In the meantime, Monica had also replied to Frank’s question.
“We had a penguin who went home with the kids every weekend. We wanted to do the same with Tommy. Unfortunately, with these COVID-19 regulations, we had to stop Tommy’s trips.
The penguin also kept a diary with events, activities, drawings and pictures from the families he spent time with. But not Tommy.”
Shortly before 8pm, Frank received another message from Monica.
“Let’s go to Alsace. I have packed Tommy in a nice, cosy box and posted it to Monique and Bernard. Hopefully, he will send a postcard.
A few minutes later, Monique sent a reply:
“Hi together. We are watching out for Tommy’s arrival. We will keep you informed. See you soon.”
Later in the evening, whilst drinking her evening tea, Monica replied to Monique.
“Thank you, Monique. I know Tommy will be in good hands. Have fun.”
Now you know the story of how Tommy travelled from Brida to the Alsace, via Dublin, and possibly, Algeria. And who knows where else he had been?
Monique and Bernard have already started preparing an itinerary for him when he arrives here.
What did Tommy learn in Dublin? Well, apart from improving his English in Monica’s school, making a whole lot of new friends, he also learned that it might be a good idea to write a little diary about his new experiences.
And, I think, Tommy would like to share this with you all when Monique and Bernard and perhaps others, show him the Alsace.
Let’s see what happens, shall we?