I'm an ex-Rhodesian bear made of straw and fabric. My beady orange eyes are what made my adoptive family fall in love with me. You'll know what I mean when you see pictures of me in my youth and even now. I would be honored and humbled to share a column in The Jerusalem Post in celebration of my upcoming 50th birthday in June. It all began when I was given, as a birthday gift, to a little girl called Cindy, when she turned one. The person who bought me was a very definite man called Grandpa-Shappy. He chose well. I was a bundle of fur and even had a voice box in those days. We lived on a big farm in Salisbury. As time passed, Cindy's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Krit, had another little girl called Nona. She was very ill but pulled through. Good thing too since she became my voice and character. I was the life and soul of that family. Even Mr. and Mrs. Krit thought I was the bee's knees. They spoke to me as if I was real and alive, which, by the way, I am. I was spoiled rotten all my life. The family bought me clothes and fancy shoes. Mrs. Krit once returned from Johannesburg with a shirt for me. She also she sewed a new mouth on me with green wool after my white woolly mouth came off. My new mouth was the beginning of my new look. When Nona turned three, she was given a teddy named Jackie who was made with the same stuff as me. Nona gave her a voice too, as well as green woolly eyebrows from Mrs. Krit. Now Jackie always looks surprised. She's 45 now. She's my stepsister and I love her dearly although she's annoying. She has a high-pitched, silly voice. While Nona and Mrs. Krit were vacationing in Johannesburg, they bought Adam, Nona's baby brother, a teddy bear whom he named Toby. Tobes and I became best friends instantly. He was bright orange and a different breed from Jackie and me. Unfortunately he is no longer with us and I miss him terribly. We bears became a major part of the family experience and were included in most events. I went on family picnics and once almost lost my head in the car when Cindy held me out the window by my ear. What hutzpa! Thanks to my voice, I was able to save many a day since Mr. Krit was quite strict and didn't stand for nonsense. Once, on a picnic drive, the kids were eating cookies, but when Cindy opened the window crumbs went flying everywhere. Mr. Krit was most annoyed. I blurted out, "I knew I would get something in my eye!" Thankfully Mr. Krit broke into laughter or else the day could have taken a turn for the worse. Although Nona talked for me, I have my own character. I'm not just a pretty bear. Listen to this. It's true. We owned horses. One fine day the kids put Jackie and me on horses. I rode Schweppes, while Jackie rode Phantom. Those silly children thought it cute except when the horses took off with us and we were left to our own devices. Meanwhile back at the ranch, the Krits apparently worried terribly that we weren't returning and sent someone out to find us. Finally, we were tracked down by a farmhand who led us home. Upon our return, the Krits were laughing like a bunch of hyenas, while Jackie and I had been traumatized by our experience. When the kids were teens, they were going overseas and brought me along in a green canvas bag. There's a picture of me sitting in the bag on the Barcelona beach. In the hotel one day, the family thought they saw my nose on a step and rushed inside the room to check if my nose was indeed missing. It turns out that the "nose" on the steps was actually an old prune. How rude! In 1978 we made aliya, but Jackie, Toby and I arrived six months later - in a fridge. The Krits were allowed only a certain amount of baggage, so we trailed along later. How would Mr. Krit feel if he was stuffed in a fridge for six months? I thought I was an important commodity to them. I have forgiven but not forgotten. When Nona married, I moved in with her and Ephraim. When Cindy married and had a son, she decided to take me back. I was devastated since I was hoping to be part of Nona's family and help raise her kids. Not to mention, I would have had to separate from my voice and character. It would have been the end of me as Lumbogue Golden. As it happened, I went back to Cindy, who held me out to her son. He abruptly snatched me and threw me on the floor. I still have the bruises to show for it! Thankfully it was decided I would return to Nona. She's a silly thing, but at least she always cared for me. I was indeed included in her family unit and became close buddies with her children, Aaron and Dina. They would talk to me just as the Krits had. Nona always defended me. Once I was attacked by the Krits' dog, Pebbles, and Nona saved me. Because of her I am alive. She was furious with that dog, and it was days before Pebbles dared to show her sorry face in public. It's now 2008. Aaron and Dina are grown and I have retired and live in the utility room with Jackie and one of Nona's farm dolls, Mary. I am rather "threadbear" but even so, my eyes still shine youthfully. I feel complete and satisfied with my life. Not knowing how much longer I will last, I intend holding onto the very last straw if I have to.