by Michal Reiben
I admit it, I spoil my six grandchildren. I buy them far too many presents. Now it is stuffed, cuddly animals they were asking for. Amongst the numerous stuffed animals, I also buy them a Panda. I’m ashamed to admit it even though I am an old woman, I constantly cuddle that Panda until it is time to hand him over. Thereafter for about a year, I wrestle with the yearning for a Panda of my own. As a child, my favorite toy had been a stuffed Panda. I keep telling myself, ‘I’m a stupid old woman and if people discover what I’ve bought for myself they will laugh at me.’ Eventually, I give in to my ‘longing’ and I buy myself a medium-sized Panda, about the same size as my ‘childhood friend’. I keep him on my bed but if I have visitors I put him amongst the other toys I keep in my house for when my grandchildren came for a visit. Every evening before going to sleep I cuddle and kiss him, as I do so I am transferred back in time to when I was a little girl and miraculously I can see my mother’s ghost standing next to my bed. She is laughing her bright, cheerful laugh which rings like a bell, it always makes me feel happy when I hear it and all I can do is smile.