This is a picture of a teddy bear my grandmother sewed when she was a little girl growing up in Odessa, Ukraine. It took her approximately 3 months to finish. My grandma was growing up in Ukraine during the time of World War II and she recalls going to bed with her teddy bear every night because it would allay her fears. When my mother, Alina, was born, my grandma passed down the teddy bear to her and it became the toy she slept with at night. Alina took the bear with her across the Atlantic when she immigrated to the United States. In a country where she had to adopt a new language and new customs, she says that the bear reminded her of her homeland and helped her feel connected to it. The bear helped her recall her kindergarten class, her teachers, her family back in Ukraine, and the beautiful Black Sea (she claims the bear has the smell of the Black Sea on it). When I was born, my mom passed the teddy bear to me and used it to explain to me her story of immigration. When I went to visit family in Odessa, my mother and grandmother showed every place the bear had been taken by them and where it was made. It was in this way that I learned about my mother and grandmother's origins. I slept with the bear when I was young and now it hangs on the closet in my room. I hope to one day pass it on to my children and keep my family's stories alive in this almost 70 year old teddy bear.
– Dennis Ronel