Heartland Hospice serving Western Pennsylvania had the honor of making memory bears for a veteran patient’s family. Debbie Howarth, daughter of the patient, entrusted Heartland with the flannel shirt and field jacket that belonged to her father as he fondly wore his field jacket from his days in Vietnam. Debra explained that her sons got to know their Grandpap more during his final days and loved to hear his stories about Vietnam, developing an interest in that era. The bears were presents to her sons.
“At first, I was reluctant to cut up the Marine shirt because I knew how much it meant to the family,” recounts Heartland Volunteer, Angela also the creator of the bears. She added, “Memories of war and the Vietnam era are sacred to all who served.”
“It was a good feeling to be able to do something meaningful for the family of a serviceman. It was the first time anyone gave me a shirt that obviously was so important to the entire family,” she added. Angela had to improvise to make two bears from the plaid shirt.
When Angela took the plaid shirt apart, she found 2 deposit slips in the pocket along with a toothpick. She decided to include them in a pocket of one of the bears. She used the field jacket to create vests for the bears. Once the bears were completed Angela took pictures of them. She explains, “I was proud of the way the bears turned out. I felt so much love and joy as I was completing this project. I hope the family always treasures their bears and passes on any stories they heard from their Grandpap.”