Rural Missouri - January 2018 - 36

RM

| NEIGHBORS

A mother and daughter sew more
than memories from clothing
by Heather Berry | hberry@ruralmissouri.coop

been sewing them a little more than a year."
"I started making them for children who'd lost
little blue and green plaid flannel bear and a their mothers. I'd make a bear instead of sending
lone framed photo are all that sit on the side flowers to the service," says Patricia, 56, who read
table. At first glance, the snapshot seems when a child loses their mother, they are comforted
unremarkable, but for Mary Schergen, the by holding a piece of the her clothing and smelling
her scent.
image of her departed son represents much more.
Word soon spread about the bears the mother"Michael had been diagnosed with Addison's
daughter team created. Overrun with orders,
disease, but he ended up passing
away from complications from
they had to start charging for their work.
These days, the duo offers Comfort Bears
diabetes," says Mary. "He was only
in 11-, 15- and 20-inch sizes. The 15-inch
25 years old."
bear is most common. The 11-inch bears
For the next 20 years, when
costs $25, 15-inch $35, and the rotund
memories threatened to overwhelm,
20-inch bear $55, plus shipping.
Mary took Michael's shirt out of the chest
Marthasville
Linda says each bear they sew
where she kept it stored in a plastic bag.
includes a little wooden heart with
Gingerly, she touched the buttons and
"Love you" handwritten on it before
held the shirt close, hoping to catch any
it's placed inside the bear. "You can
remaining scent, then carefully placed it
actually feel it under the fabric," says
back in storage for safe keeping.
"The only two things I kept were his shirts," Mary the Cuivre River Electric Cooperative member.
Linda and Patricia also can create a special
says, "a bowling shirt he loved and this shirt his
uncle (my brother) gave him for Christmas in 1996, patch with dates, names or a short quote stitched
or printed onto a fabric, then attached to the bear.
Michael's last Christmas with us."
Mary knew her longtime golfing buddy, Linda Tags are included in the price of each bear.
"My 64-year-old pastor showed me an old, faded
Richardson, sewed special stuffed bears for people
whose loved ones had passed, but it never crossed photo of he and his siblings from when he was
Mary's mind to have Linda turn her own son's about 6 years old and asked if I could put that on
shirt into a permanent memento. So she handed the bear I was making him," says Patricia. "When
her son's shirt over to her friend to immortalize he saw the bear, he was overcome with memories
and cried. That's when you know what you're doing
Michael's shirt into a bear.
Linda and her daughter, Patricia, create "Comfort really is touching someone's heart."
Linda says when they cut the bear pattern from
Bears" for people from the clothing of loved ones
who've passed away. While the bears seem simple the piece of clothing, placement is important. "If
there's a special logo on a shirt, I put that on the
by design, they mean as much
bear's chest or on the bottom of a foot."
or more to owners as if they
were collectible German Steiff
Patricia Richardson, left, and her mother, Linda, create
bears.
Comfort Bears from the clothing of loved ones
"Patricia began making
who've passed away.
the bears six years ago for
people she worked with,"
says Linda, 79. "I've only

This 15-inch bear was made from flannel sleepwear Linda's
grandson, Billy Joe Richardson III, gave her for Christmas
before he passed away in 2012. He was only 20 years old.
She carefully reattaches some of the garments'
buttons to each bear when possible, and has even
been known to put the shirt collar onto a bear if it
looks good. "You don't really know how the bear's
going to look until it's done. Then, it's a unique,
one-of-a-kind memory someone can hug."
While they're not sure how many bears they've
made in total, Linda says in the year or more she's
been sewing Comfort Bears, she's made nearly 100
herself. The duo's handiwork now resides in homes
across the United States.
Linda and Patricia also have added memory
quilts to their offerings. They take 12-inch portions
from six shirts and use them in a lap quilt pattern.
The quilts are $125 plus shipping. The price
includes the fabric the pair chooses to accent the
blocks made from the shirts.
For Linda, bears are more than a business. They
become heirlooms.
"When I give someone their bear, I always thank
them for letting me share in their memories," says
Linda, who has made bears in memory of her father,
mother and a grandson. "No amount of money is
worth the smiles, tears and thanks we get from
those who tell us how much their Comfort Bear
means to them."
Adds Mary, "I can't explain how it makes me feel
to see this bear sitting by a photo of my son every
day. Comfort is exactly what it gives me."
If you're interested in having Linda and Patricia
make a Comfort Bear or lap quilt, call Linda at 314565-5163 or Patricia at 314723-4494 for details on
where to send your loved
one's clothing and the
turn-around time for
your bear or lap quilt.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - January 2018

Contents
Rural Missouri - January 2018 - Intro
Rural Missouri - January 2018 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - January 2018 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - January 2018 - Contents
Rural Missouri - January 2018 - 4
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Rural Missouri - January 2018 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - January 2018 - Cover4
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