Thursday, January 30, 2014

Remember When (Part 2)

The memory that Lyn sparked for me the other day just keeps giving.  So, we'll finish the tale of that weekend.

The dance was after the opening ceremonies on the first day of the weekend's competition.  At then end of the second day, our hosts at the Air Force base had arranged for the on-base movie theater to have a private showing of "The Land Before Time" animated movie for the athletes and anyone connected with Special Olympics.  The athletes had to sit with their teams but no one had to pay an admission fee to watch the film.  There was even popcorn and drinks available for all.

The athletes were seated relatively quickly and they were very excited to be there.  The coaches and chaperones were with the teams as well.  The volunteers filed in after we were all seated and yet more  people kept filing in.  I'm pretty sure a Fire Marshall would have had a fit because the theater ended up with Air Force personnel leaning against the walls watching the movie with us.

The athletes loved the movie, cheering when the little dines got away from the T Rex.  Some cried when Little Foot's mother was killed.  When the movie was over and the lights came up, I realized that the cryer behind me was not an athlete.  He was actually an officer in the Air Force and he was wrecked.  I looked around and noticed quite a few of the adults wiping their eyes and sniffing.

I asked the gentleman behind me if he was OK.  He looked startled but commented that it was so sad that the mother dino had died.  I was a bit aghast.  He looked closely at me and realized I was dry-eyed.

"Didn't it upset you to see her die?"  He asked.
"No.  Why should it?"
"Because she died!"  As though it should have been enough of a reason.
"And?"
"That doesn't upset you?" He was growing more incredulous.
"No.  The T Rex needed to eat."  My many hours watching Mutual of Omaha, Nature, Nova and National Geographic specials was peeking through.  "Look, " I tried to be conciliatory "I work at the Natural History Museum and feed live mice to the snakes.  Animals eating each other doesn't bother me."  His isle had opened up enough for him walk away, shaking his head.

The plan for the rest of the night was to return the athletes to their rooms so they could sleep before the final rounds of competition, closing ceremonies and departures.  They were dragging and so was I.  I had gotten very little sleep the night before and wasn't sure how I was going to make it through another night of keeping my sister's admirer out of her room.

I tried speaking with his coach and chaperones.  They knew he was an issue and were a bit intimidated by him.  He was over 18 and they felt limited in what they could do.  So, seeing things were not going to be resolved by them, I resolved to sleep on the floor in front of her door if necessary.  It was necessary as Lyn's admirer came calling not long after the other athletes had settled in.  I wouldn't let him near her door.

My admirer was still around.  He stayed to keep me company and when he saw me fading he made an offer.  "Look.  You're exhausted.  Go sleep.  I will keep watch.  I know how to do it.  You don't."  How could I refuse?  He was right.  He was pretty fresh out of basic training and had to pull watches sometimes.  So, I left him in the hall with a promise to wake me if he needed to sleep or leave.  About 5:30 in the morning, he knocked on my door.  He knew we'd have to wake the athletes soon and thought I'd want time to shower.  He had turned my sister's admirer away a couple more times after I had gone to bed.

Lyn never knew that her admirer had tried to gain access to her room for two nights.  She never knew that I had worried she'd get pregnant or get hurt or catch something.  She had competed, seen friends, met new people and had flirted with her admirer outrageously.  She had pretty quickly forgiven me for making a scene by the van.  The words "not being appropriate" were pretty powerful and evoked Mom.  She couldn't really argue with that.

When the closing ceremonies were over and we were home with Mom, I made my decision to never chaperone for Special Olympics again.  Even so, I would find myself worrying about her when she was away at competition, hoping the chaperones and coaches kept her safe.  A couple of times over the years, we would get reports of her being removed from situations which were getting inappropriate.




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