Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Season(s) of a year or life (01/13/11)
TITLE: Some Things Never Change
By Dawn Thomason
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Little did I suspect at the age of eight our lives would be so dramatically entwined for the next ten years. From the first time we met I was drawn to her. Susan’s presence and smile added warmth to the frigid cement firehouse galley where we practiced baton. For reasons known only to God, she selected me out of a mix of thirty young girls to embrace. Most every weekend from the age of twelve to eighteen was spent in her home and it became my summer resort as well. An unsettled home front due to my father’s alcoholism precipitated my pilgrimage. I was quasi adopted by her husband and became a part of the family. At the age of fourteen, I garnered a brother from this union. They were thrilled to have a live-in babysitter and I was overjoyed at being needed.
I acquired life skills ranging from making a bed with nurse’s corners and setting a proper table (who knew there could be so many forks!), to changing a cloth diaper and concocting a palatable spaghetti sauce. Before Nancy Reagan coined the phrase, Susan taught me to “just say no” to impetuous high school gents with lightning-fast hands.
Through my twirling, Susan instilled leadership skills I have carried with me throughout my life. When out of my shyness I would hunker into my shell like a frightened turtle, Susan would say, “Get back out there and take control!” I learned it was impossible to please all people, but it was possible to garner their respect via fairness and impartiality.
My first car was a 1971 Ford Pinto, white with primer green spots on the rear panels. Susan purchased the car and allowed me to make payments from my meager student salary. I laugh now, but at the time I didn’t think I would ever pay off my debt of $450. Before I could embark on grand adventures in my “Bessie,” I needed to learn to drive. Once again, Susan provided the solution via her neon green Ford Pinto. She and her husband taught me to drive a stick shift, though there were a few bumps along the way. One such incident remains clear in my memory bank. “Here’s a frozen banana to help you feel better.” How could she be so kind after I just rammed her beloved neon chariot into the fence! In my mind’s eye I can still see her laughing. Grace and mercy prevailed over punishment. What great love!
At sixteen, I enlisted an additional baton teacher for private lessons. Meeting with my new instructor would require travel to Virginia, an unchartered territory for this fledgling driver. It was bound to happen… “Where have you been? Why didn’t you call?” Never before had I seen Susan so visibly upset, tears streaming down her cheeks, hands trembling
“I made a wrong turn and traveled an hour in the wrong direction before turning around. And I did call you a couple of times, but no one answered.” (Further investigation revealed the phone volume was muted without her knowledge).
My heart realized, for the first time, the depth of Susan’s love for me. She was more than a majorette teacher. A surrogate mother would more fit the bill. Fear of losing me was the cause of the tears and trembling. Her little girl was growing up and she feared losing me physically as well as emotionally.
Yes, there was a new teacher in town, and we were entering a new season in our relationship, but our love for each other remained secure. And, in case you are curious, Susan is now a surrogate great-grandmother.
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