When Samantha Holmes was 2 years old, she gave her father a stuffed turtle. For the last 18 years, he's carried it to work with him. Every. Single. Day.
He's been toting this turtle in his gym bag for so long, neither father or daughter remember when or why she gave it to him. But he always made sure it was in his gym bag. He even packed it in his suitcase when he went away on trips. “When she gave it to me, she told me to take it out if I felt lonely. I don’t like to be away from the kids, so I like to have it,” he said. “I think of it as a part of them being with me.” Pat Holmes only took his turtle out recently because his gym bag was totaled. He showed it to his daughter, who posted the story on Reddit. Then, the Washington Post interviewed the family about it. (
I just about cried buckets reading it. Probably because I still have all of my beloved stuffed animals stored in the attic (Yes, just like Andy in "Toy Story 3.")
What is it about stuffed animals anyway? For many of us, they were our friends, the keepers of our secrets, our playmates. And the "Toy Story" movies so beautifully captured what my 6 year old brain imagined they did while I was at school. Bill Watterson created the greatest cartoon ever in "Calvin and Hobbes" by depicting a young boys who imagines that his stuffed tiger came to life. But "The Velveteen Rabbit" was the original tale of a stuffed rabbit and his journey towards becoming "real."
I have so many wonderful memories of my stuffed animals. One of my favorite books was "B is for Betsy," so my godmother gave me a stuffed koala made of real rabbit fur. I still have him. All the fur on his back is worn off because I used to carry him around everywhere, hugging him to my chest. My favorite aunt would take me to the local toy store every time she came for a visit and buy me a new stuffed animal. I amassed a collection of exotic jungle animals - an elephant, a gorilla - even a camel! And of course I got a new rabbit every Easter.
But my favorite was Poochie. Poochie was this ugly stuffed dog that I literally loved to death. All his fur wore off and the paint on his face faded. But I couldn't sleep without him. My parents were seriously concerned that I would still be sleeping with him on my honeymoon. One time, we were returning home after a visit to our family in South Carolina, when I realized I left Poochie at the hotel. We were just miles from the house, but my dad turned the car around and drove all the way back to Spartanburg. The maids had just cleaned the room and were taking Poochie to the dumpster by the time my Dad raced up to rescue him.
My father-in-law, on the other hand, scarred his children for life by throwing out all of their stuffed animals. My mother-in-law had taken all 5 of the kids with her to visit her parents, when Dad decided it would be a good time to clean out the playroom. They returned to find all of their beloved toys were gone. My sister-in-law is almost 50 and she still has the two who survived "the great purge."
I'm glad that Pat Holmes took care of his daughter's turtle. “You hear a lot of people don’t have a close relationship with their dads, or their dads aren’t really expressive,” Samantha Holmes said. “I’m really grateful for how close we are.” She's a lucky girl.