by Jason M. Rodriguez
Eight-year-old Brandon Fiscel has had his best friend “Beary” since the day he was born.
If Brandon slept over at Grandma Nancy Fiscel’s house, Beary came along. At night, he finds comfort in the scent and feel of Beary. Ask Brandon what makes Beary different from another stuffed animal, and he’ll point to a little string under Beary’s chin that sets him apart.
The two, whenever possible, are inseparable.
As the Fiscel family was traveling through Europe in October, they needed to make an early morning train ride from Paris to Normandy for a three-day stay. They were tired. They were rushed. Beary was placed in a backpack with Brandon’s other valuables – a cell phone, a digital camera and a Nintendo DS – and placed in an overhead compartment for safe travel. As the family woke to realize they had to catch another train, off they went. Without Beary.
“Those trains, they don’t leave you much time,” recalled Nancy Fiscel. “I look down at Brandon, and I say, ‘Brandon, where’s your backpack?’”
It was gone; heading the other way.
“When we got on the train, he had some tears and said, ‘Grandma, my bear was in that backpack,’” Nancy said.
So the Fiscel family was in a land where communication was limited, since none of them spoke French, and where they knew only each other. They were there to visit another of Fiscel’s grandsons, Andrew Fox, who is stationed at Ramstein Air Force Base. Fox drew pictures, pointed at examples of backpacks and did everything he could to explain to the man working at the train station that Brandon was missing his backpack, and they needed help to find it.
“The conductor said he wouldn’t promise anything, but he would try to get it back,” Nancy Fiscel said.
They spent the next three days in Normandy and returned to the same station where they were when they realized Beary and the backpack were gone.
“I said to myself, I don’t care if anything else is gone, I just wanted to get my bear back,” Brandon recalled.
As the Fiscels again tried to ask about the bear through language barriers, they started getting answers. They were the answers they were hoping for.
“We never expected, really, to have it brought back,” Nancy Fiscel said.
But it was. All in tact. The money in his wallet, the camera, the Nintendo, the cell phone and, of course, Beary.
This Thanksgiving season, Brandon Fiscel knows what it feels like to lose a comforting part of his young life. As he grips the small bear, he’s thankful that his buddy is back in his arms.
“I hardly knew what to say,” Brandon recalled about when he learned Beary was coming back. “As soon as they told us, I came out and started jumping up and down.”