My Little One …. Little One

January16/ 2000

….. It seemed like a good idea at the time.  And, it WAS a good idea, but Lord Have Mercy it about “tore out my heart and stomped that sucker flat” (credit Lewis Grizzard for that line).  Today is Kid’s 21st birthday!  This is “one of THOSE columns” involving Perry Como, Beverly Perdue, Grizzard, and goodness knows who else by the time I’m done.

I tend to be a bit cynical on “rites of passage” because we all have’em.  As you wade thru this one, please know that I’m just relating my version in the context of my life.  If it intersects with similar circumstances in your life, feel free to grab ahold and enjoy the ride.

We don’t seem to be as sentimental as a nation as we used to be.  That’s to be expected when 50% of the population pretty much despises the other 50% for assorted ideological reasons real and imagined.  That despised 50% pretty much despises right back at their despisees.  I see evidences of all that despising in broad-based consumer marketing and when I attend large scale public events.

The not-so-subliminal message in much of what I am exposed to amounts to a poke in my eye with a sharp stick.  I make a mental note not to buy that product and get on about my day.  Such traditions as The National Anthem, or “fly-overs”, at public events have become “waiting for the protest shoe to fall” situations.  Sure as shootin’ some attending faction is gonna piss in the punch bowl because “this is America” and they have a right to do so.  As a result I cherish sentimental moments either to my self or shared only with a strong liklihood of like-minded souls.

Remember “The Littlest Angel”?  Remember the “little angel’s” most cherished possession that became The Star of Bethlehem ….. that box of treasured mementoes under the bed.  I’ve come to believe such a collection of memories might be all that matters when all is said and done.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Kid was “home” from Missouri last week over her spring break.  It was a “road trip” with three of her gal-pals from Mizzou.  They made the 15 hour trek on Saturday ….. took 36 hours of R&R here…. then proceeded on to “da beach” for four days.  Retracing their steps …. 36 more hours here, then the overland trek back to Mizzou.   All safe and sound and, remarkably, all friendships still in tact after 10 days of close quarters.  Not sure I could have done that, especially that “close quarters” part.

Having REALLY “gone away to college”, she was excited to share her North Carolina world with her Missouri friends …. And vice versa.  Reinforcing to Missus and me that Kid had a solid foundation of pleasant memories of her first 18 years.  We pretty much knew that but always good to have validation.  She gave them the tour of her schools, church and assorted hang-out spots and was able to get-together with her special “peeps” from her pre-college days.

Friday night we took the whole kit & kaboodle to Kid’s birthday dinner at the fabled Angus Barn.  Several hours of animated jabber jabber including yours truly passing around pictures of Kid’s growing up …… including an eerie one of her in June 2001 atop the Empire State Bldg looking south at the World Trade Center.

It was Kid’s Night but with “a BobLee moment”.  The Angus Barn’s ever-gracious owner Van Eure insisted on giving us the full tour of the nationally reknown eatery.  As we were waiting for our cars under the entry portico, I glanced to my right and VOILA.  There was North Carolina’s Governor “Dumpling” Beverly Perdue and hubby.   Of course …. I immediately engaged Madam Governor in an animated conversation involving UNC Prez Erskine Bowles with whom she is currently feuding.

Unaware of my fire-breathing right-wingness, (D)Guv Bev was most gracious and pleasant.  Kid’s pals noted the mini-event …. “Is that The Governor laughing with your dad?” …. “Probably ….” Kid replied with an exaggerated roll of her eyes.  Was it random coincidence or fate that created that moment?

The party moved to our living room for dessert and more jabber jabber.  Missus and I hung on the periphery as Kid’s two worlds meshed effortlessly for several hours …. even Annabelle The Cat felt at ease moving among the conversing young people.   If you’ve ever had the delightful experience of listening to a room full of “good kids (including your own) having a good time” you know the feeling Mom & Dad had.

Two of the attendees have played positive pivotal roles in Kid’s successful passage thru high school and college.   I took the opportunity to tell each privately how much they had meant to us.  Missus meanwhile was at her Pearl Mesta best as party planner extraordinaire …. flitting about attending to the most miniscule details of the evening as is her wont to do.

This morning (Tuesday) is Kid’s actual birthday.  Even with the early celebration, something was necessary on “the day”.

The concept of “my daughter’s 21st birthday” is significant.  But as a traditional rite of passage, Kid is a tad unusual.  When she turned 16, it was another 6 months before she got around to getting her driver’s license so “being legal” was no biggie ….. but it does measure a passage for sure for Father – Daughter.

For whatever reason such memories percolate, the song “Turn Around” was in my head this morning.  I thought it was just an advertising jingle for cameras or somesuch but decided to google it.  Guess what! …. Its like a for-real song recorded by numerous artists.  I picked Perry Como’s version.  Missus had left the house early on her daily Save Western Civilization mission so it was just me and Annabelle.

WARNING – repeated listening to “Turn Around” on your daughter’s 21st birthday when you are alone in a home overflowing with family memories is a Double Kleenex experience.  Definitely DO NOT try to operate heavy machinery while doing so!

It’s hardly fair that I spend this day alone as a blubbering unapologetically sentimental daddy so I’m sharing Perry Como’s Turn Around with you.  Open your own Littlest Angel box of memories and rummage thru it as you listen ….. (just click on those blue words)

I’ve attended four funerals in the past six weeks (and was notified this very day of another one coming up very soon) ….. I need no reminder of the fragile nature of our lives.  A life well-lived is never all rainbows and ice cream ….. sprinkled among our days and years are sure to be regrets and oops and shouldas and shouldn’tas ….. “roads not taken” and “whattayaknows”.

I hope each of you Buddies & Babes do have your own “Little Angel box of treasured memories”.  May you continue to add to it each day ….

Your Pal,
BobLee (aka Kid’s Daddy)

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