Legend has it, I out-strategized you on that storied evening at Lincoln Elementary School.
It was Autumn.
I outlasted you and the cadre of other doe-eyed, leery, anxious competitors on that varnished-wood stage for what was my first and only spelling bee.
Funny, each day of the three-and-a-half decades since that seminal event I could recite the winning word letter for joy-filled letter—I could have sung it to you yesterday even, I remembered it so vividly. Today, I swear, it eludes me.
I out-strategized you, Rachel. Not unlike how Barack hoodwinked Hillary for an improbable win in ’08. Dueled you did I, word for word, breath for breath, after the others faltered and fell away one by one with each noun, verb and adjective verbally tossed from the moderator’s precise tongue.
By some stroke of fortune or act of a merciful angel, you and I had weathered each tension-mounting round of miracle marathon mile of a grammar contest neither of us had an idea we’d carry. But the intellectual cream had risen, the sweet goodness of whirling dervish that the discriminate taster craves. That’s the legend.
I was determined not to runner-up it. I’ve never liked coming in second place. Why? Let me tell you:
The second-placer is the first to lose. The initial loser.
I may as well have been the first misspeller. It swallows easier. Feel?
Hillary is determined not to runner-up again. Would you agree? I like her chances.
But that’s the legend. Sure, that sequence of events occurred on that cool, crisp, autumn evening on that creaky, grand stage on the campus of Abraham Lincoln Elementary School. But the truth, as then, remains: Of the last two contestants standing before the sea of families at the final bell, you were the smarter.
There’s a second truth.
My mother needed a win. My exquisitely beautiful, generous, compassionate, selfless, life-burdened mother deserved a serendipitous lift in that moment to take as a source of rare pride.
We were a lost tribe, my family. The four of us were a bewildered Canadian tribe lost in the hinterlandic wilderness of the far West. Anchorless, sundial-less, rudderless in the unforgiving social and economic storm currents of western North America.
Having missed countless meals so that her cubs would not, my mother, having lost her own parents at 15, fought courageously to caretake, protect, educate and love her own with a soldier’s valor, a lioness’s heart, a constant fear of the unknown—and silent prayer.
Never an asker of anything, my mother’s a giver. She deserved a win on that night. Just a sign, unasked of course, that her mothering wasn’t in vain.
You provided that, Rachel. Yes, I stood last. I was awarded the plaque. But it wasn’t about me. A victory doesn’t belong to the victor; rather, to the unheralded people who made it even possible.
Hands down, you’re the smarter of the two of us. I gladly concede.
If I recall—can you believe it?—it was on a Friday, the bee. We actually pampered my mother on a Friday.
And it is on this day that I honor you, Rachel Nyback. I haven’t forgotten.
Happy Pamper-Her-Friday, my friend.
You are forever a winner.
Pamper the woman . . . and forever live in her Autumn. -Rg2
© 2016 Pamper-Her-Friday by Rg2®