He’s the real Teddy bear

He’s Uncle Paul to my kids, “Dad” to my niece and nephew, “Poppi” to his granddaughter and “Hun” to my sister, who happens to be his wife.
To his friends and other relatives, of which I am both, he’s Paul. Paul Kern.
He’s a great guy … or as my late Aunt Dorothy would say, a “swell fella.”
I was a teen when my sister started dating Paul so I barely remember a time when he was not in my life. And when Paul Kern is in your life, man, is he IN your life. He truly cannot do enough for you.
It’s easy to forget that sometimes. To forget that he’s always there, always available, particularly since his retirement. When that happened it occurred to me that all the rest of our family should have pooled some money long before and paid Paul not to work. How did we get along, I often wondered, when he was not there to wait for the cable guy, drive someone to a doctor’s appointment, wait for a tyke to get off the school bus, pick us up at the garage, drive us to the airport, pick up a prescription, hold the ladder, collect the mail when we were on vacation, and generally do whatever was needed.
In between, he volunteers for Meals on Wheels. And that’s what has me writing about him today.
Paul was in the passenger seat of the Meals on Wheels truck in Saturday’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in downtown Pittston. He’s been in that seat for every Pittston parade over the last few years.
For weeks prior to a parade Paul collects items to toss to the children along the route. He prepared something like 150 bags of candy for Saturday’s parade but that’s not what really sets him apart. The Teddy Bears do.
Paul shows up with dozens and dozens of assorted Teddy bears to toss to the kids.
He does this for one reason: it give him immense pleasure.
It’s one thing for a kid to attend a parade and picked up a few Tootsie Rolls or Dum Dum lolli pops from the street. It’s quite another to have someone toss you a Teddy bear.
Paul Kern does that.

Ed Ackerman