First off you have an awsome mom!! LOL
I have a Ruger Super RedHawk in 44Mag. LOVE IT! It is the 9&1/2" barrel. I like that barrel length for the accuracy for farther shots. I also have it scoped. I use it for deer and bear. It also has a very special meaning to me. It was my fathers and his first handgun he bought.
My father has a Ruger BlackHawk in 357Mag. I like that also. I believe it is a 7&1/2" barrel. It also is a great deer hand gun. Could it be used for bear? Yes, but it wouldn't be my first choice. The 357 does have yes recoil than a 44mag(obviously) and weighs less.
If you like choose a caliber that has a lower power counter cartridge. Examples 44Mag & 44 special, 357Mag & 38special, 454Casul & 45Colt. etc. Pratice with those lesser power cartridges then when you feel your ready try the hunting rounds.
I would recomend the 44mag (personally). It can take down anything in North America. You may not think about going out for bear now, but maybe later? Or a big awsome hunting trip to somewhere else for a large game species. The 44mag is a time proven cartridge.
I also would recomend the S&W 629 another great hunting handgun.
Me personally I don't like the taurus handguns. Just my opinion though.
My Ruger Super RedHawk (in 44Mag)
My fathers Ruger BlackHawk (in 357mag)