Liz’s Story (Part 1)
Pondering writing a story on my beloved daughter, I wondered what angle that I should take. How do I go about writing about someone who is a part of me but be able to stand outside and write a glowing, loving, exciting account of one of Springfield’s hottest new DJs?
Okay, 1979 was the year Liz was five and I was er, well, old enough. Our family moved from San Jose, California to a small Arkansas town known as Harrison. Being lonely, I kept a journal for about five years. Liz and her brother, Dave, are interspersed throughout being the absolute best parts of my life, so I went back and read everything about Liz in my journal and came up with my rendition of how this DJ was made. Here we go …
Looking down at my newborn daughter, I could hardly believe the blessing I held in my arms. First a beautiful, cuddly son and now a sweet, soft, baby-smelling little daughter. God, you are so good to me!
Liz was very verbal from the start. She cooed, made cute little sounds with her tongue, and seemed to talk straight to Brother Dave in her own language, assuming all the while he understood every “word.” He would usually smile sweetly to her and talk soothingly as he thought a proper big brother should talk to his little sister. Many times the conversations would be with Brother Dave bending in to Liz’s bright white bassinet and Liz’s response on numerous occasions would be to reach up and grab a fist full of her brother’s hair.
Life for Liz and family went on with children growing and being children until Liz reached eighteen months old. One winter’s day, I noticed Liz hunched over, and any attempt to hold her was met with soft baby-crying. She was warm to the touch and most frightening was the way that she did not look straight into my face, but would reach out to me. I sensed she did know it was me by her clinging arms. Finally, a trip to the pediatrician’s office for a brief examination and a subsequent lumbar puncture at the nearby hospital revealed viral meningitis had infected my precious baby daughter.
Prayers washed in many, and many fearful tears were answered for me with peace about my daughter’s grave condition. Making my bed beside her tall, silver-railed hospital crib, I sat vigil hourly as doctors probed and nurses prodded my baby’s body with needles, IVs, and other medically-necessary paraphernalia. The prayers were answered affirmatively as my little redhead came more to life as each dawned and wore on. Finally, it was time to empty her hospital crib of the multitude of stuffed bears and toys and take Liz back home to resume growing and exploring, as she loved to do.
The warm glow of health returned and Liz resumed her life and continued exploring her expanding world. This world included a large, tender heart for animals. She always had an affinity for the animal kingdom and they for her. When Liz was six years old, I happened to look out the back window that surveyed the garden and saw my daughter holding down our big black Lab-mix dog Maxie, brushing her teeth. Asking Liz about it later, she simply stated that his teeth needed brushing!
This love for our dog extended to all critters Liz encountered in her young, country-girl, free-roaming little life. It wasn’t unusual to open our home to terrapins rescued from the middle of Highway 65 or a dusty red-earthen back-road winding its way to a friend’s house. One such orphan terrapin sat with Liz and Brother Dave and watched TV together after school. Another got lost in our station wagon when he (or she) headed north into the paneling just above the accelerator and brake pedals.
Stray dogs had an instant home with Liz also. Mutts came up the road, were fed, watered, and loved quickly into the family. Her heart never said no to one.
One morning Liz excitedly recalled her dream of riding a white horse among the clouds. This dream eventually manifested itself into a flesh and blood steed named Buster. He was a beautiful fifteen and a half hands Bay. He was half quarter horse and half Missouri Fox-Trotter. She renamed him Thunder because she said his galloping hooves upon earth sounded like thunder. This horse met his disciplinary match in Liz. Thunder had previously been ridden by four tiny little sisters (all at once) around their house. Thunder figured that was the way it should be done at Liz’s house. Forty-five minutes later and unflinching coaching by this dauntless rider had Thunder out the front wire gate and down the cement road to discover his new surroundings. Her favorite way to ride him was bare back.
Liz attended church and went to her share of vacation Bible schools and church camps. At one camp, she received the Lord as her savior. It was amongst the warm breezes, sands, and ocean water of Panama City Beach, Florida. Later in life, she called out to God and found that he always helps her when she calls. I remember being on my knees with her paternal grandmother dedicating Liz to the Lord, and you know what, even her name means consecrated to God.
Ever growing, Liz progressed in school all the while examining just where she would fit in. The shiny batons twirled by the majorettes prancing, dancing, and marching across the football field in junior high school caught her eye. Weeks were spent relentlessly practicing her fledgling technique against the school band try-outs. Every day after school found her twirling, marching and tossing the baton high into the air. The day came for try-outs and she was ready. Her turn came and went. Announcements of the newly selected majorettes did not include her name. The pain of not being selected was great within her and loud cries and tears ensued as her girlfriends gathered around hugging and consoling her. This is also where she acquired her first pair of Guess jeans from her sympathetic mother who had previously stood against paying the exorbitant clothing price!
In time though, she perceived that cheerleaders had a place in high school society and she decided to fill that place. It was fun and exciting buying the new uniforms each year and practicing each day after school at the school together with the cheerleaders then coming home to her second floor bedroom and practicing the cheers and new moves as the second floor bedrooms squeaky floor gave her mother visions of a foot and leg coming through the plaster any minute. Being a tall girl, she was a “base” for the pyramids and the shorter teammates filled the top. I learned at this time that cheerleading is strenuous a sport as any of the other sports that teenager’s practice. An adjunct to cheerleading was the yearly cheerleading camps where Liz taught younger wannabe cheerleaders. Young hopefuls more than once told me that Liz had encouraged them toward success in their efforts to master the moves and physical demands that learning cheerleading presented. Little ones approached me praising Liz. She never ignored them in any instance and this was quite appreciated in a world where it wasn’t uncommon to be passed right over if you weren’t of teen or adult age and stature. This was a subject quite close to Liz’s heart after having been snubbed as a tike peering up at an ignoring cashier at a local business.
Part 1 | Part 2