The camp counselors in charge of my life right now kept telling me I’d be in for it when the Red Devil made its introduction. I’d read about the drugs they would pump into my body every two weeks, like clockwork, for two months, and even that first time when the nurse brought out the giant red vials I thought, well now, they aren’t so red after all. Not blood red anyway, but a brighter pink than I expected.
I remember the day, almost 30 years ago, when I wheeled my grocery cart around Food Lion in search on one last thing to fill my growing boy’s Easter basket. My offering of jelly beans and Peeps seemed rather paltry. I needed something large that would stand out.
And there you were, your black eyes staring at me, yellow arms outstretched, your orange beak almost shouting at me: Take me! Take me!
The boy didn’t yet have a favorite friend, but he had a yellow blanket he loved, and so I thought you’d match each other well. Off we headed to the register, Jelly Beans and your soft yellow torso in tow.
Our world may be more divided than it was on July 19, 1969, but surely we can all take a moment to come together, as we did that day, when were were reminded that we are ALL AMERICANS. (photo copyright Susan Byrum Rountree)
I hated camp. But I took this picture of my new camp friend, Penny Spence, at the door to our cabin. It proves I was there. Anyone who knows me well at all has heard my camp story. It’s legend in my family, and as we head into our annual beach week, it’s bound to come up. How my parents sent me to a two-week stint at an Episcopal Church camp on the Pamlico River where my sister had gone and loved it. And how I didn’t stay. We sit around the kitchen table and laugh about how the counselors all tried to entertain me with sailing lessons and camp fires and songs and whatnot, but I was having nothing of it. All I wanted was to go home and sit at the feet of my mother.
My first memory of a newspaper is that it was green. Not in the sense of being environmentally friendly, but it was actually green newsprint — holding mostly television listings (three channels!) and the comics, I think — inserted in the middle of the drab words my parents preferred. My brother — way older than I am by four years — remembers it quite clearly.
i called my mother yesterday. it was her wedding anniversary, the third one since my father died, and i'd forgotten to send her a card or a flower. we get busy in our lives, i know, and as i thought about the note or the flower, i realized that the one thing she wanted i couldn't give her. my voice would have to do.