MOTHERHOOD / DAUGHTERHOOD

To account for four missing decades, I record that a son got born onto an Earth spiraling downward.  In spite of this world’s dullness, intermittent confusion and sometimes cluttered turmoil, Roy never failed to impress. 

Always smiling and polite and fascinated with any surroundings, he seemed to have appeared  “out of the nowhere into here”, and the seasons zoomed by — over-flowing with his accomplishments.  Scrapbooks forlornly inadequate to contain the accolades he garnered, one filing cabinet after the other moved into every nook and cranny of our lives.

Pulling HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON from a Book-of-the-Month Club package, my three-year-old scooted down to sit cross-legged on the linoleum kitchen floor to read aloud to me. 

Always a narrator of events and stories, he regaled his kindergarten class with imaginary accounts laced with autobiography and family secrets and then got tapped by a Hoosier state trooper to illustrate safety tips, accompanied by his gift of gab, for local television public service announcements.  Often, he experienced some difficulty walking home from school as the local bullies failed to revere televised safety rules and regulations.  New adventures to share for “Show and Tell”!

This prodigy won first place in the PTA-sponsored cultural arts competitions so frequently, other housewives and some misguided elementary school teachers suspected that I might be the genius behind the grammar school wunderkind, his own Ted Sorenson surreptitiously fabricating wizards weaving in and out among spaceships surrounded by airborne talking animals in delightful, surreal story-book formats.  WHY BUCK ROGERS SLEPT?  PROFILES IN OUTER SPACE?

As a ten-year-old national winner of a contest which adults sanctioned and promoted with no thought other than probably placing children in artificial situations to see who “wins”, Roy flew to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to read aloud his prize-winning account of Raggedy Andy touring the U.S.A.  Incidentally, President Reagan, healing from an attempted April assassination, also spoke.  White House Reporter San Donaldson, waiting impatiently in line to purchase an airline ticket for our collective plane ride Eastward toward “home”,  posed for young photographer Roy.  We sat beside a Secret Service agent resembling Pat Boone who promised to deliver a copy of the ROY-story to “Dutch”!

Three months later, my father Roy’s 10 year old namesake visited St. Joseph’s Hospital’s intensive care unit to share his personal “thank you” note with his Reagan look-alike grandfather, whom he had nick-named “Dadd-ly” because that gentleman’s personality could only be captured adverbially…a father-figure to and protector of and cheer-leader for countless human beings during his 74 years of life.  Daddy’s cerebral hemorrhage left him barely able to speak.  Roy tentatively, gingerly pressed an inscribed photograph of the current president, garbed in jodhpurs and riding boots, into my father’s pale and paralyzed hand.  “To Roy, with much appreciation for your wonderful story…my best wishes always, Ronald Reagan…” 

Three days later, Roy’s most-devoted-fan-ever died.

Soon, we moved from our house in Allen County, an area which had achieved recent fame on the national news for extensive flooding and communal sand-bagging efforts (Reagan showed up once again), to drier land — purchasing my childhood home from my widowed mother who’d forgotten how to enjoy grandmother-hood and became more and more lost to us until she faded away in a quasi-Alzheimer’s haze.   

Watergate mania, a clumsy former football hero, the peace-loving peanut farmer, that “shining city upon a hill”, some “thousand points of light” and reading of lips, Lewinsky-gate, and eight years of malapropisms and silverspoonerisms defining oily 9/11 religious wars led to proclamations concerning hope’s audacity, while an adult emerged as time and life fled by swiftly, mostly fulfillingly.  Salutatorian, National Merit Finalist, Indiana Senator Richard Lugar’s student Youth For Understanding representative to Japan, Wabash College Valedictorian, Ohio State Graduate Assistant, Roy now serves as a Marketing Vice President and official state economic council appointee of Michigan’s former governor Jennifer Granholm in financially beleaguered metro-Detroit.  For fun, he has played lead roles in that city’s productions of BELLS ARE RINGING, COMPANY, PAJAMA GAME, OKLAHOMA and two Shakespeare-in-the-Park romps,   He outshone Dino, John Raitt, Gordon…and Orson.

Toting toddler Roy about on my hip in the early seventies, we’d encounter handsome young neighborhood husbands mowing lawns or watching their children swim at our Pocahontas Swim Club or shopping with wives who specialized in cloying curiosities regarding comparisons of “What time does little Roy go down for his nap?” or “Will he be playing T-Ball this season” or later  “My child has lost three teeth—is Roy keeping pace (via parents-promoting-peer-pressure-typeinquisitions) as to the manly loss of molars?”  Husbands/daddies expressed flirtatious interest in Roy’s mama as their wives prattled on competitively.  Alarmed by these side-long glances and teasing double entendres, my little protective tike pronounced authoritatively:  “My mom’s name is Susie, and she is married to my dad who is named Don.”  Ardor cooled, and my reputation remained unsullied. Roy’s been monitoring my activities ever since.  Could not ask for a more attentive guardian angel/”big brother” watching over me!  We are the best of friends.

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