OVER THE RAINBOW
Written as told orally………………..
Somewhere over the rainbow, blue birds fly. If birds fly over the rainbow, why, then, oh why can’t I?
I hated the school bus. Oh, I know, most kids are excited about riding it for the first time but I couldn’t imagine getting into that big yellow thing and leaving my mama. I had spent all of my six years right on that farm within shouting distance of my mama and within a short running distance of my Nanny. I had no desire to go anywhere else. Everything I knew and loved was there.
We lived way out in the country on a narrow paved road with a house about every mile or two. Small farms houses separated by soy bean and corn fields. I had two regular playmates and spent most of my days with them and an assortment of farm animals.
Of course, I did eventually get on that school bus, mostly to escape a switch. Then my world extended a few miles past that little farm. When it was time to go to high school, we moved off the farm so I wouldn’t have to travel 40 miles each way to school. I found out people knew how to roller skate and went to indoor movies. We moved into a house with a fireplace instead of a oil burning stove. I looked around and felt somewhat cheated for having grown up on that little farm.
Like most girls my age, I went to college to meet an educated man. I majored in chemistry though and fancied myself a scientist until I met prince charming and decided to train as a med tech and get married. Prince Charming and I had the two perfect kids, a girl and a boy. I stayed home to raise them and built the white picket fence. Twelve years later, Prince Charming was gone, the fence fell down and I was standing there alone with those two perfect kids.
And my head I’d be scratchin’ while my thoughts I’d be hatchin’, if I only had a brain.
I remember feeling so old and so worn and so dull when I walked into that college. What was I thinking? I’d been out of school for more than twelve years and I had forgotten everything except how to whip a runny nose and make a decent meatloaf. All of the people there looked so young and so fresh and so smart. . Sitting in the cafeteria that day was Bonnie, some one just like me looked old and worn and dull. She had escaped her too perfect like of bridge games and football helmet hairdos to find something else. Funny, I had been hurled out of my fairly perfect life unwillingly but I too needed to find something else………a job…..money to support those kids.
I majored in chemistry…I still felt a little bit like a scientist…it was good field…not much discrimination…..good pay. So I worked in the college chemical stockroom and in the biology lab feeding rats and changing the snake cages. With those jobs and loans I managed to make it from one semester to the next. I remember my counselor, a squirrelly little fellow, told me I’d never make it in chemistry and I just needed to go home and raise my kids. I thank God for him because his attitude propelled me into making an A in Physical Chemistry.
I tried to be a good mother then but I know I left some blank spaces. I was up all hours of the night studying and my parents often took my slack. My parents would come over to check on us in that drab two bedroom apartment and would just happen to leave some food in the refrigerator. I wouldn’t ask for it but they knew.
When I graduated, I moved all the way to Northeast Tennessee to work for a large chemical company. I was officially the first divorced women, I believe, to live in that small town. I didn’t have many friends but I had my kids, a good job, living paycheck to paycheck but making it on my own. My kids were lack key kids. My friend said she raised her kids by phone and most of the time the line was busy. I did have a cadre of people at work who counseled the kids over the phone and helped me with parenting. We made it. My kids are now grossly independent and it makes happy and sad. Their world was ripped apart at an early age and the yellow school bus was only a means of transportation for them.
I’d be a friend to the sparrows and the boy who shots the arrows, if I only had a heart.
I couldn’t’ believe my son was going to be a father. Wasn’t this the kids who repelled off the school balcony and managed to have a graduation party and invited over 300 kids? Well, he did make it though officer candidate school and the US Navy trusted him with nuclear equipment…yep, that was still a little scary.
After a couple of ultra sounds we found out there was going to be problems for this small fetus that happened to have all the making of a little girl. We heard the news and it was hard to take it in….her intestines were on the outside of her body…..her stomach had not closed….it was called gastroschisis. We become quite familiar with all of the medical terms and could discuss it with ease…well not ease… but with what seemed like objectivity as we viewed this little mass on the ultrasound. She would need surgery right after birth to close up the hole in her belly. BUT, her little belly would not be organized as God designed it but as best it could be arrange by a doctor. If things didn’t work, she’d have to be feed though a tube….forever.
We gather at the hospital for her birth. My prayers had settle into a constant, “thy will be done” and I thought of the options for this little girl with the whole in her belly. If she could not make it, it was best that she be taken….BUT God had to make that choice not me. The nurse came in and told us we could see her briefly.. I braced myself because I thought surely a girl with a whole in her belly would be somehow pitiful looking, sick, weak, ……frail.
She was laying on a gurney on her way to surgery. She was covered to her chest with a small white blanket and all I could see was this beautiful face staring directly into my eyes. I loved her with the most intensity I have ever felt in just one second. She was beautiful. She was perfect. She was a granddaughter. She just had this whole in her belly.
I came back to the waiting room so distressed. I fell on my knees in a corner of the room Words would not form in my mouth but they were screaming from my head and heart……..I want this child……please let us keep this child….my granddaughter who happens to have this whole in her belly. PLEASE MAKE HER WELL! I do believe in spiritual domain and know that we often ignore it because we are so much in the thick of thin things BUT I couldn’t imagine GOD talking to me or anyone…that is verbally. BUT in that instant when I cried out with no words…I heard…I felt…I sensed…the words, BE Still. And I was.
She all grown up now and in college. Everything works just fine….she loves anchovies and olives and will eat you out of house and home. She's a talented musician and a create soul. I have three more grandkids now and I love all of them. They are so different and so beautifully made. But, I will never forget the rush of love for that first granddaughter, the one with the whole in her belly.
What makes a king from a slave? courage.
What makes a muskrat guard her musk? courage.
What makes the dawn come up like thunder? courage.
What makes the Hottentot so hot? courage.
What put the ape in apricot? courage.
What have they got that I ain’t got? courage!
From the day I arrived at that chemical company, I knew I was different. I identified quickly with the hourly folks who worked in the lab but found it difficult to deal with my peers. Frankly, many of them were, bless their little hearts, boring.
My bosses always said I was too much. I liked people too much. I laughed too much. I talked too much. I had too much fun. I was just TOOMUCH. I remember one manager told me to stand still behind the podium when I gave a presentation like this other fellow who didn’t move an inch while he read from his notes. I liked to move around, inject a little humor, use colorful slides and I protested. After all, The works manager always fell asleep in other the horse and pony show BUT not in mind. He was wide awake.
This was the same manager who told me I should work longer hours. Here I was a single mom leaving work at full gallop to take the kids to all their activities then returning home to laundry, homework and the other stuff. I was exhausted. I also knew that most of the folks staying late were loafing at their desk doing crossword puzzles waiting for the boss to leave and go home to his wife. So, I told him. I’ll work longer hours as soon as I get a wife. That seemed to set the tone for the rest of my time at that company.
That manager and I did finally learn to live with each other. He had been raised in a jar and needed input from me on several issues involving people…he didn’t have a clue and was digging himself a deeper and deeper whole with folks. He demanded to be Doctor when no one else used titles. He would sit by the computer five minutes to twelve waiting to see who left early only to return at five minutes to one to see who was late. One day we were sitting side by side at two computers working on a project when everyone got up and left leaving us shoulder to shoulder alone at the desk. He’s said, "We should move because people might talk". I told him that frankly, I thought he could use the publicity.
Before I knew it twenty years had passed. I was still too much but at some point along the way I decided it was my job to be too much. Some people were called to be just enough, others understated and quiet and others are called to be TOO MUCH. We come in handy to lighten the mood and provide a little fun…..of course in business everyone seemed to be bent on maintaining a terminal seriousness, something I never could acquire.
Because I was too much, I think, I was asked to be the company representative for a partnership with the International Storytelling Center to study the use of story in business. I told stories people liked them and my manager said this assignment had me written all over it……..it had languished on many a desk before it hit mine….terminal seriousness. Anyway, I met with Jimmy Neil Smith, the director of the International Storytelling Center, one sunny afternoon under a grape arbor in the little town of Jonesborough, TN and drank peach tea….on company time…and that’s when I thought God Is Good.
When I met the storytelling community it revived a spirit in me I had lost. They used beautiful language; they thought deeply and laughed easily. They seem to revel in uniqueness, besides none of them wore golf shirts or used sports metaphors. I knew I needed to be with them. I was an artist and I wanted to be free to create. After much soul searching over a decision made as much with my heart as my head…I favored my spirit…I honored my passion and .I decided to leave the company on the day I was eligible for early retirement. And incidentally, I was scared to death.
But you see it had to be done. Because, I found out the problem wasn’t that I was too much…It was that the company was just too little.
If pretty little blue birds fly, away above the tree tops high, why oh why can’t I.