Karol Bowman’s husband, Boyd passed away in the care of Our Lady of Peace in 2017. Wanting a way to help her daughters cope with the loss of their dad, she accepted an invitation to attend a Memorial Bear workshop. “The people were kind and supportive to my daughter and myself,” says Karol. “We both walked away with a bear made from my husband’s clothing. I gave mine to my other daughter who was unable to attend. I appreciated the sewing, and the people at the workshop were kind and supportive.”
The teddy bear pattern was shared with Karol, so she could make one for herself. A year passed before she did anything with it, but in 2018, she finally picked up a scissors and made one with her husband’s clothing. “After that, I helped my 12-year-old granddaughter make one for her 4H program, and I decided to make one for my husband’s best friend and fishing buddy. That was fun because I used clothing that I knew Boyd had worn fishing. Then I made one for college friend who had lost her husband around the time I did.”
Later, Karol learned from a woman she had met in her spouse grief group that OLP needed sewers to make bears at workshops. As a former family and consumer science teacher, she knew how to sew, but hadn’t for many years. “At the end of the school day, I didn’t want to look at a sewing machine anymore, but when I revisited it, I found out I liked it.” Then Covid hit and the workshop Karol planned to attend was cancelled, so she started making them at home. Karol has made a total of 30 bears.
“People call OLP and express interest in a bear and they send them to us,” says Karol. “I just made one for someone whose mother passed at OLP. She had a fun leopard print, a plush fabric, and another fun fabric. I like working with fabrics that are fun, and I enjoyed putting them together. Whatever material people give me, they seem to turn out well.”
Karol says there are endless possibilities for making the bears, but she always includes a personalized note to the person receiving the bear. She says she want them to know that their loved one was important, and she tells them what a privilege it was to make this bear in their memory. “It’s rewarding and people are very appreciative,” she says. “OLP is very generous with supplying the pattern, stuffing for the bears, buttons, etc. and they continually ask me if there’s anything I need. I’m looking forward to going back to the workshops to work with people in person. I enjoy doing this!”