I remember my first day of school. It was in September of 1960. My mother walked me to the bus stop. I was wearing a plaid dress with a starched white collar and a pair of black and white oxfords accented by lacy little socks. I carried a brand new book satchel (God, do they even make such things anymore?) That satchel was burnished and smooth and smelled all leathery with a strap that dug into my tiny six-year-old shoulders that felt as if they were carrying the weight of the world. Inside the satchel was a Blue Horse Tablet with two of those big, fat pencils, a box of 24 Crayola crayons, some Elmer's School Paste, a mini-box of Kleenex, and some milk and lunch money (which totalled 28 cents). I waited for the bus while my mother promised that she would be waiting for me in that very same spot that afternoon when the bus dropped me off after one of the greatest adventures so far in my short little life. Ah, my first step on a journey of independence.
All went well until lunch time. I couldn't eat. I wondered, what was my mom doing? Did my baby sister, Patti, miss me? Were either one of them thinking about me at that moment? The lunch room was cavernous. Around that room was painted a mural of a particularly parochial pastoral scene. On one wall, through a thicket of green brush strokes, I saw a deer staring back at me with sad, imploring eyes -- a baby fawn, brown with white spots and spindly legs. All I could think was, "Oh, God help me, somebody shot Bambi's mother!" Immediately, I was no longer in the cafeteria of St. Michael's Elementary School. I was running for the thicket. In my frenzied little mind, a shot rang out. Snow was falling as I called for my mother -- she wasn't there. I started crying, wretched, deep, heavy sobs as my shoulders sagged and heaved. Oh, how I wanted to be in my mother's arms! How badly I needed her! A nun, Sister Bertrand, came to me and asked what was wrong. I could manage only to wheeze and whisper, "Somebody killed Bambi's mother..."
I wouldn't admit then that I was sad or frightened. I just couldn't. After all, I wasn't a baby! Since that day, I always think of Bambi's mother whenever I don't want to deal with what is at hand. It is so much easier to try to shirk the sadness and blame another source. I told everyone I was thinking of Bambi's mother after my grandmother passed away and her house sat empty and lonely for years. I told everyone I was thinking of Bambi's mother when my best friend moved away. Yes, I was thinking of Bambi's mother when my son, Kyle, left home to start a new life in Atlanta, Georgia.
Now, my daughter, Jenny, is getting ready to head out for Shrevesport, Louisiana with her husband, Ken. It is a new adventure for them -- a wonderful opportunity! They will be leaving within a month or two. I wish them well. I wish for them all the happiness in this world. I wish for them success and joy and endless exhilaration. I just want them to know,though, that I will be always be waiting for them at the bus stop. I will be thinking of them. I will let them go with all my hopes and promises and as much love as I can send their way. If I cry just a little when they leave, well...you know...somebody killed Bambi's mother!