Sunday, October 08, 2006

Robin Would Have Been 59

Robin and I were a couple of ugly ducklings at Davenport Central in 1962... I think the technical term is "Nerds." Whether it was gravity or whatever, in a sophomore class of more than 300, Robin and I always had at least one class together, two in that first year. We talked and talked and talked... we each thought at the time that we had talked about everything there was to talk about.
During the summer before our senior year I dropped several pounds of baby fat and got my head turned by Donna, and that was it for Robin and me.
In the fall of 1995 Robin tracked me down on AOL and sent me an e-mail. We corresponded sporadically thereafter (you know how I am about writing).
Robin had hit a couple of speed bumps on the road of life, but enjoyed more than twenty years as a speech therapist for a rural school district in eastern Kentucky before retiring with a disability. I got it into my head to go for a drive in 2004 and, since I was going to be going through Kentucky, I planned to stop by and see her.
I had to pull her out of a nursing home to take her to dinner. Just six weeks earlier she'd been hospitalized up in Lexington, narrowly surviving major abdominal surgery, and she still had an open incision.
It turned out that for all the time we'd spent talking forty years earlier, I had not known that she'd been adopted or that she and her "step-mother" were both being beaten. She hadn't known that I'd been in foster care for seven years. She didn't know that she'd been my first date, the girl I gave my first corsage to. We talked at the SNF for a few hours, and then we joined two of her friends, Mark and Sally, for a bite to eat.
The classic "Robin" moment was when I came back to pick her up for dinner. She looked at me, there after forty years to pick her up for our second date, and exclaimed, "Are those the only shoes you have?" You had to have been there.
I didn't realize when I kissed her goodbye that that was the first time I'd kissed her.
After that we talked on the phone a few times... a few more e-mails... and then Robin was gone. She'd told Mark and Sally on Friday that she wasn't feeling well and was going to stay in bed so they shouldn't call. When they checked on her Monday they found that she'd passed over the weekend... just days before her birthday.
I think about Robin, adopted from a foundling home, her adoptive mother dying and leaving her with an abusive father figure, a non-starter in the teen popularity wars... because she'd already learned to keep so much of herself so well hidden? She pulled herself up. She did a lot of good for a lot of kids. She was bright, and funny, and for a few hours in late May, 2004, she said she reconnected with a moment forty years earlier.
Robin would have been 59 yesterday.

3 Comments:

Blogger Tamar said...

Thank you for sharing this. So beautifully written. Something so deep, personal, full of love and respect. And I learned something about you and foster care. You are in my thoughts right here, right now.

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Winston said...

She was too young to go, not that we're ever ready, but just shy of 59...

I feel your loss and your pain. Hope you are at peace...

10:29 PM  
Blogger Rain said...

What a sad story but at least you did take the effort to reconnect with her and I bet that meant a lot to her. Some lives are very tragic.

2:01 PM  

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