Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Flannery Paradigm - Part Two (Ragean)

Part Two – The Middle (or Who Am I?)
Yes, I’m sure you’ve noticed that there is one character I pretty much overlooked in Part One.  Of course, if you are not that interested, by all means, just close the site as you have read about the Best of the Best already!  But as this blog was intended to explain, in part, how I became who I am now, I must continue.

As mentioned earlier, I was born in Tulsa, OK.  I am the only girl with three brothers.  Greg is 2 years older, Tim is 3 years younger and Tom is 9 years younger.  We have lived all over the country and were raised in a home where hard work and love were ways of life. 

When we first moved to Anaheim, CA, I was pretty upset.  You see, I had just graduated from the 8th grade and was going to be attending Redondo Beach High School, which was still a 4-year school.  Instead, I ended up at Fremont Junior High in Anaheim for 9th grade.  Not a good start for the new location. 

Dad started ministering at Anaheim First Christian Church on Broadway.  Very, very old building, but I think it had a lot of character.  Directly behind the church was a house with a big blacktop area, where arrangements had been made with the owner to use as a parking lot for the Church.  This is where I first met a kid who eventually became one of my best friends, Joe Hentges.  He and his parents lived in the house and owned the lot.  He was also in the same grade as I was, so I’d see him around quite a bit.  Mostly from running into each other in the parking lot, Joe and I became very close friends.  We eventually dated a bit through high school, but always remained close friends and I am pleased to say that we remain so today.

One of the best stories (that Dad eventually made into a sermon) had to do with Joe and I.  Joe’s step-mother was Catholic.  When she learned that we were dating, she would tell him as he left to pick me up, “Remember what you are!”  Whenever Dad saw me leaving on a date with Joe, he would always tell me to “Remember who you are!”  Eventually, Joe and I heard what was being said to each of us and we really got a kick out of it.  I told dad, and, voila! it became a sermon.  I know mom has some of dad’s old sermons lying around somewhere and I need to see if I can find a copy of that one to send a copy off to Joe. 

After graduation, being much too independent and stubborn to remain living at home, I decided to go out to Cincinnati Bible Seminary, the college where my parents had attended.  I knew I had dad’s family nearby, so I wouldn’t be too isolated and thought it might be fun to be in a different part of the Country.  My major was always Piano Performance in all the colleges I attended…yes, there were a few.  After a year of being away from home, however, and realizing that the main reason that CBS seemed to think a female was at their school was to become a preacher’s wife, I returned to the nest. 

I worked for about a semester and then attended a year at what was then Pacific Christian College and is now called Hope University, in Fullerton, CA.  I got tired of that and left to get a job and moved out again. 

After another semester off, I decided I really didn’t like working all that much (I mean, really, who does?) and enrolled in what was then called Chapman College and is now Chapman University, in Orange, CA.  Tim was attending there and I had heard they had a great Music program.  After one semester at Chapman, I thought “What am I doing?  I don’t want to be a concert pianist!”  So, once again, and finally, I dropped out.  I got two jobs initially to afford to move out quickly and buy a car.  After a year or so, I teamed up with my old high school and Chapman chum, Carla Clark (nee VanRy).

Carla’s parents had retired out to the Colorado River area and had left their home in Anaheim for Carla to live in for as long as she needed it.  I moved in with her and we lived together there and eventually in a few more places (I’ve lost count over the years.)  She has always been like the sister I really never had.  My parents loved Carla and hers, I think, loved me.  We had some wonderful times together.

Carla also helped me get a job at Disneyland.  I started off working at the NOBCAF Production Office (that’s Disney-speak for New Orleans/Bear Country/Adventureland/Frontierland.)  The office was above the River Belle Terrace restaurant and shared a back stairway with the Golden Horseshoe Review.  This was a wonderful time of my life.  I got to meet and spend time with Wally Boag, Fulton Burley and Betty Taylor of the Review and hang out at the Magic Kingdom nearly every day. 

Eventually I was promoted to Assistant for the Manager of Main Street/Parking Lot, Bob Gault.  My office was on the second floor of the Town Hall building, near the entrance to Walt’s private apartment.  Next I was promoted to Executive Assistant to Peter Alexander, the VP of Project Management Support at WED (Walter Elias Disney) the Imagineering arm of the Company located in Glendale.  But I am getting a bit ahead of myself…

It was while working in Main Street Production that I finally met the bloke that changed my mind about NEVER getting married and NEVER having children.  Charlie Moss was the lead of the Stroller Shop and would come up to the office to pick up his check.  One of the other assistant’s in the office (quite near retirement age) attempted to set us up.  I, in turn, tried to set Charlie up with another one of the assistants.  He was persistent, though, and we began dating in early August 1980, were engaged on Christmas Eve 1980, married on August 8, 1981, and had our first child on September 23, 1982. 

I am now realizing that this section of the book (Part Two) appears to be very boring, so I’m going to sum up quite quickly:

Charlie and I have three wonderful children.  As of this writing, Lauren is 29, Templeton is 27 and Dash is 25.  Lauren graduated from Hofstra University on Long Island, NY and then went to the University of Sheffield in Sheffield, England, where he sobtained her Masters’ in English Literature.  She is currently living in the Boston area.  Templeton attended 3 ½ years at the University of Kentucky and, much like his mother, dropped out just short of graduating.  Dash returned to California to attend UC Fullerton for one year before returning back to Kentucky. 

I do have an interesting antecdote regarding my boys and Disney.  When Dash went back to CA for college, he got a job at Disney;and.  Templeton took a semester off from UK to do some work experience at Walt Disney World.  For a few months, I had two sons working at Disney Theme Parks on either side of the Country, but BOTH were assigned to working in the Haunted Mansion.  Pretty good story for a "Disney Family."

A mother loves all her children equally.  But I have learned that a mother may love each child differently, as well.  The basic maternal love never goes away, at least in my life experience; however, each child, as they develop and grow becomes more “them” than they are “you” and you fall in love with them over and over and over again.  At the present time, I can define my “additional love” for my children by how I currently think of them.  Let me try to explain.

I think of Lauren as “My Soul.”  She and I have a connection that is unlike that of the connection with the boys.  This is natural and all mothers of boys AND girls can attest to this.  With our particular connection, however, there seems to be a link that we both feel goes back through time.  We say exactly the same thing at the same time – much too often; we have the same interests and often share the same beliefs.  She was my primary caretaker during the Great Medical Disasters of 2009 and my rock.  We became especially close during that time and I am really going to miss her now that she has moved on to her next adventure in the Boston area.  Lauren is going through some really frustrating times.  She has a Masters’ Degree in English Literature and wants to work at a Publishing House in an era when Publishing (and even spelling!) is becoming obsolete.  She is the smartest woman I have ever known, which is saying a great deal, so I have no doubt she will land on her feet and find a job that interests her.  That is my Lauren.

I think of Templeton as “My Laughter.”  Tempe (as I call him) is a writer.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that he is a writer’s writer.  He began writing poetry in 2nd grade.  His teacher Ms St Ange encouraged him, which is what a teacher is supposed to do.  Thank goodness my kids have each had a few good ones!  Tempe is ALWAYS writing.  He writes everything:  poems; short stories; novels; most recently fairy tales; and, my particular favorite, scripts for multiple seasons of some great TV sitcoms.  As with others in this field (like his sister), getting a foot in the door is one of the hardest things to accomplish.  He has gone back to take a course in Medical Coding (which is primarily on-line) as it is a high-demand job and a high-paying job, which will allow him to support himself while he does what he must do:  WRITE.  No matter what is going on in my life – and lately there have been a lot of tough times – Tempe ALWAYS can make me laugh.  He is so very like his father and amazes me with his compassion for others and the way he looks at life.  That is my Tempe.

I think of Dashiell as “My Joy.”  Dash (as he is usually called) is the musician in this branch of the clan.  He has an outrageous sense of humor, reminiscent of “Monty Python” (reference for us old folks), and I do not believe he has ever met someone who hasn’t immediately wanted to be his best friend.  Since he was born, he has reminded me of my brother Tom.  I believe they look alike, move alike and act alike.  (I didn’t mean for that to sound like the Theme Song to the old Patty Duke show…sorry.)  He is the one who started calling me “Shaky Brain” after hearing I had epilepsy.  He was very pleased when the name stuck!  This is a perfect example of how he looks at life.  If there is something out of kilter, ironic or just plain silly – he notices it.  He is a very hard working kid.  Taught himself how to play Bass for his band, Go Mordecai!, which had too many guitarist and needed a bassist.  He also has played guitar (obviously), accordion, I believe he tried trumpet for awhile – there is just no limit to what he will attempt and at which he will succeed.  Another example of the outrageous activities of this lad:  3 different locations in the Louisville area were having contests to give away Kayaks this summer.  So his bandmates (the 3 unmarried ones at least) entered each contest hundreds of times.  They won all three kayaks and now take days to kayak down the local rivers and sometimes on our lake.  If he puts his mind to it, it will happen.  That is my Dash.

I have been saving the best for last, though.  Charlie (or “C” as I call him) is the most amazing man I have ever met.  Being raised with three athletic brothers, I primarily dated athletes.  That is one of the reasons I tried to set C up with another gal in my office at Disneyland.  He just didn’t seem my type.  But his persistence wore me down and after our first date – I was hooked.  Unlike many of the athletes I had dated, C was smart!  So smart, in fact, that we could actually have a conversation that made sense without having to talk about sports!  The real clincher, though, was on our 2nd date when he met my Dad.  Dad immediately liked him.  This both pleased and frightened me.  Now this will mean more if I explain that on my very first date ever back in high school, Dad answered the door to the sweet young man (and a good friend of my big brother AND a member of our Church) with a shotgun in hand.  As you can imagine, that date didn’t go very well.  Between my dad and my brothers, guys had to jump through a lot of hoops to get too close to me.  Charlie sailed through them all. 

Charlie’s family was and is devoutly Catholic.  You can imagine the repercussions when his mother met the blonde Protestant preacher’s daughter her youngest child was dating.  Those were some interesting days.  I can honestly say, though, that I adore Charlie’s family as my own and loved his mom and dad with all my heart.

One day, in my late teens, mom and I were watching something on television and heard about some gorgeous guy marrying some dumpy looking gal.  I looked at her and said, “What’s with that?  What could he possibly see in her?”  Mom just laughed and said, “Honey, everybody’s weird.  The secret to a good marriage is finding someone who is weird just like you!”  Yes.  Charlie and I are Weird Alike.  (And Tempe has written a story called Weird Alike...can you imagine what it's about?)

Now don’t take that to mean that I think Charlie is some dumpy looking guy (I am assuming you don’t think I'm a dumpy looking gal, right?) – he is gorgeous; was gorgeous the day we met; was gorgeous the day we married and is still gorgeous today – 30 years later.  He has always been there for me through all of my weird medical problems, totally involved in the raising of our kids…basically, we can accomplish anything as long as we are together.  He is my other half.

That’s pretty much “me” today.  The people I have interacted with and who I have loved and have loved me. 

Just before ending Part Two and beginning Part Three, I must state that, although I was raised in a Christian home and as part of a very religious family, my parents’ beliefs were never thrust upon me.  I was always taught to think for myself.  Fortunately, I had that early guidance.  Unfortunately, I believe that most of America has NOT had that early guidance, but have been willing to follow whichever currently popular or charismatic leader tells them to believe. 

Thus ends Part Two.

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