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Carla and the Christmas Bear

It was still two weeks before Christmas, and Carla held high hopes of Santa fulfilling her teddybear wish.   12/17/2003 Carla and the Christmas Bear "Please Sir", as she held out her soiled empty hand, "Can you spare just a morsel for a cold weak child"?

The over plump man never looking down assumed she was speaking of herself. He stared at her with cold unsympathetic eyes, then grunted, "Off with you", he said. "Do you not know who I am? I own all these buildings, for the next two blocks, and if I had my way, you vagrants would be toted off to oblivion. You hang around here with your hands out expecting my renters to give, give, give...".
Then suddenly he felt this sharp abrupt pain on his old squeaky shinbone, and immediately thought that this frail unkept woman had kicked him, but no, this meek little child's voice errupted from lower down to make herself
noticed. "You are a nasty mean spirited old man, and Santa will not be coming to see you this Christmas", she cried with tears rolling from her pale blue eyes.

The man now angry reached for his tiny assailant and slipped and fell with a crash upon the snow and ice. Now he had two new bruises, this would be a meeting that he would not forget for a long, long time.

Finally, he scooted himself over to a street lamp pole and hoisted his heavy body back up straight on his feet. Grumbled and growled from the back of his throat, swearing that this woman and child would pay for what they had done to him. He turned in a flash and headed for his over stretched limo that was waiting by the curbside. The driver opened the door, and after shutting it behind his employer, reached in his pocket and handed the woman ten dollars. "Merry Christmas," he said.
The woman and child both thanked him for his kindness, for they knew that he was only a working man, unlike the man he labored for, but they were grateful for any means that would allow them nourishment, and something warm to drink.

"Mommy, I'm cold, and I'm hungry, Can we get something to eat now"?

"Yes, we'll walk down the street to that all night grocery, and get some fruit and some hot chocolate".
And so off they went. Once inside, the clerk, being told to watch those that lived on the street very closely, for they would 'help themselves' to merchandise, she spoke cautiously, but nicely, as she watched the mother prepare two large cups for their hot treat.

Feeling the woman's eyes on her, the Mother turned and showed the lady her acquired monies, so that she could rest her mind that she wasn't trying to get something for nothing. While she was busy with the chocolate the child's eyes would light up when she noticed a Christmas basket filled with goodies on the shelf above her. "Look, Mommy", she said with excitement in her voice, "There's a Christmas bear, just like the one I had, before Daddy got sick".

It wasn't that she was ignoring her daughter's words, but she knew that any money they had was a must to be used for food, not Christmas bears in a colored cellophane wrap.
She leaned over and very quietly, she tried to explain. "Carla, now you know that Mama can't afford things such as that, maybe Santa will bring it for you".
Even at seven years old, Carla knew in her mind, that Mama was telling her the truth, but she also knew in her heart that she couldn't give up on her dreams, and yes, maybe Santa would bring it to her.
The lady in the store allowed them as paying customers to remain in the warmth of the store and drink their drinks and feast on the large bright shiny red apples. Carla and her Mother talked about Christmas memories that they had shared before Carla's Daddy had passed away, leaving them on their own. It was a happier time, though they still weren't rich, they did have a home and food. They weren't bitter they just knew that this wasn't the life they wanted or needed to be living.
After they had finished eating and drinking, they thanked the lady for her generosity, and headed back out into the bite of the ice, snow and darkness.

It was still two weeks before Christmas, and Carla held high hopes of Santa fulfilling her teddybear wish.
The North wind was howling and the snow was getting heavier, as Carla and her Mama crawled into that cardboard box they knew as home. The ends were covered in heavy wool blankets that people from the shelter handed out last winter to those on the streets. No matter how cold it was her Mother always made sure that Carla was as warm as she could possibly keep her under these conditions.
Mama began her nightly ritual, with the singing of the lullabye and season's story, but this night Carla noticed a cough that kept plaquing her Mother's shivering voice.
Finally, Carla broke in and stopped her, by saying, "Mama, can we just go to sleep now, I'm really quite tired". Mama agreed, and Carla rolled over, trying to imagine a warm fireplace and the sound of the crackling it makes as the logs burn to ashes.

A few hours later, the repeated sound of her Mother's hacking cough awoke her. Carla became quite worried for that was the same sound that she remembered about her Daddy just before 'the funeral'.
Carla loved her Mother, and began trying to wake her, but noticed that she was very warm. Warmer even than she should possibly be.
As the daylight appeared, her Mother woke, but in her eyes was the illness that soon would prove to bring many sleepless nights for this seven year old angel. Carla began to pray, to the Jesus that her Mother had always told her about. The Jesus that performed miracles by healing the terminally ill. So at night while her Mother lay coughing, Carla would lay awake and pray.
But the only person in Carla's life that she knew would always love her, was growing worse, not better, in spite of all the prayers that she would send.
Then one morning, only three days before Christmas, Hubert, another homeless man, came by to see how Carla and her Mother was fairing, since they had not come to the park in many days. When Hubert raised the wool blanket from the end of the box and saw the condition that her Mother was in, he sat down on the frozen sidewalk and started to talking to Carla about her Mother being sick. "How long she been this way, Carla", Hubert asked?
"A long time now", she said with doubt in her voice and tears in her eyes. "She hasn't opened her eyes, this makes three days now".

Hubert knew that this was very serious, she probably had pneumonia, and for the homeless, pneumonia usually meant certain death.

By now Carla had basically forgotten about that Christmas bear or any wishes of any kind except those having to do with her Mother getting well.

"She needs medicine", Hubert said. "And she needs it quick". But he knew that without money, they would see her at the local ER but still very few survived.
Carla told Hubert that she had prayed for her, but Jesus didn't hear her, but Hubert tried to assure this sweet innocent child that Jesus hears everybody, but tends to the needs of his children in many different ways. "You just keep a prayin' child, just keep a prayin'".
Suddenly Carla remembered the man that she had kicked that night, that rich man that she felt was being mean and nasty to her Mother. Maybe that is the reason that Jesus hasn't give Mama a miracle, she thought to herself. I need to find him and tell him I'm sorry. Maybe then Jesus would let Mama be well again. So Carla bundled up like her Mother had always told her to do, and set out to find that man.

It just so happened that very evening, that long black shiny car pulled up just down the street, and Carla noticed it. It was hard to miss actually, so she took off with the good intentions of speaking her apologies for her recent bad manners. She approached the car just as the owner stepped out, and she cleared her throat to get his attention. "Please, Sir, will you please forgive me, so that Jesus will grant my Mommy a miracle"? "Uhh, what did you say", asked the man? "Go on little girl, don't bother me, can't you see I'm a busy man"? But Carla just wouldn't, couldn't give up. She had to make this man accept her apology. "Please Sir, Please", Carla began to beg. "You must hear my apology, so Jesus will help Mama!"
Then he realized just who this child was, this was the little girl that had gave him that mean little kick on the sidewalk that night. Yes, how could he forget that, afterall, he still carried an off colored bruise on his shin.

"Okay, Okay", he gruffly said. "Just get away from me, you little brat"!

Any other time Carla would have taken offense to one calling her such names, but she took that as his acceptance and off she went, with a now consoled look on her numb frozen face.
When she returned to her cardboard home, she found Hubert waiting on her, but she also noticed the back of an ambulance with the lights on, headed down the street in a hurry. She paused and ran to lift the blanket but Hubert stopped her. Fighting his grip, she began yelling at him, "Where's my Mama! Where's my Mama! What have you done to her"? "She had to go see the Doctor," Hubert said, while trying to console this child that he knew would have to be placed now in the care of the authorities, whether her Mother survived or not.

The word of this child's fate, spread on the streets, like a wild fire in a dry forest.
The only attention that anybody ever paid to the oversized car when it rolled into the neighborhood, was that they knew that the oversized man would soon appear from it's back seat to gather rent from his apartment dwellers. This time, though, it would be different. Not only did he step out, but also a very sweet looking grandmotherly looking woman.
She stood outside the car, looking up at the tall buildings, as though she was making mental notes on their whereabouts for later years. Pointing ever so often and the cheuffer would slightly bow his head.
You could tell that now her attention was being drawn to a more immediate thought, for the look on her face softened even more. She tapped the lady's shoulder, that was telling of Carla and her Mother's problems, "Excuse me,"she said. "Did I hear you say there is a small child that has been left unattended out here on the streets?"
The lady just pointed straight toward where Hubert and Carla were standing. Carla was busy crying, but Hubert knew what that point was going to lead to. His first reaction was to take Carla and hide her, but he also knew that if he did it would just mean that she would have to stay in the freezing streets another night, and he really didn't want that to be. So he took Carla and moved even closer to the lady that was now keeping her eyes glued on their actions.

It wasn't long after Hubert saw the lady speaking to somebody on the phone that a police car pulled up next to them on the edge of the street.

The first officer that stepped up on the sidewalk, reached for Carla, and she jerked backwards, as to avoid his touch. Hubert bent down on his knees, and started trying to convince Carla that she needed to go with them so that they could take her to see her Mother.

He also knew that probably wasn't going to be where she went but she was already upset and she too needed medical attention.

He heard a woman's voice, and turned to see the lady that was previously standing beside the car. The policemen apparently knew who she was, for they called her by name.
She motioned for them to let her try and get Carla to go with her, and assured them that she was deal with the legal athourities herself.

Hubert gave Carla a hug and then raised up and stepped out of the way as to give Mrs. Winkleman direct access to Carla's attention. He couldn't hear all of what she was saying to her, but very soon the Mrs. stood up, took Carla by the hand, spoke to the policemen, and off they went hand in hand down the sidewalk.
When Mr. Winkleman came from the building, one could see the non-approvement on his face, but he didn't argue with his misses. All three stepped into the back of that long black car and it sped off down the street.

Carla's Mother didn't make it through the night, and that news too spread through the streets. Although each of them worried about Carla, they were sure that she now was being taken care of. They knew she was not on the streets facing another freezing night. Hubert would never forget the story that Carla's Mother shared with him, before he had called the ambulance to retrieve her from her paperdoll home. After Mrs. Winkleman had left with Carla that day, Hubert had shared the story with the officers that had arrived first. Her Mother had told Hubert Carla's only Christmas wish. The Christmas bear wrapped in colored cellophane.

What they didn't know, was that Carla would again visit them, each time Mr. Winkleman would come into the neighborhood to collect his rent. Yes, Carla was now living with Mr. and Mrs. Winkleman. She never came that she wasn't holding tightly to that Christmas Bear that she had wished for.

Her first visit back, she had hunted down Hubert to tell him that she knows now that Jesus did hear her prayers, for she prayed that her Mommy and Daddy would again be together, and now..they were.
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Upload Date: 31/12/1969

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