I was 24 years old, a 4 year military veteran, was a licensed clinical professional, successfully returned to college, had been accepted to a California University in the fall, had a little money, driving a new sports car and married to a nice attractive woman. In short, I full of myself!
I sported hair then I would find longish today and a full red bed which I wore for several years. I was not doing this for some political statement or meaning, it was just me perhaps relaxing standards after a military stint. But at the time during the anti-war era, judgments were made about such folks and what they stood for based on appearance. Perhaps I forgot this as I made my way from California College to the Mid-Western culture.
I explained that I needed a special card for someone and it was important that the message be on target. So, we started through several of the cards and I read the Hallmark message out loud to her and asked if she could interpret the message behind it for me. I think she tolerated the first couple cards pretty well but I could see her frustration beginning to build and I’m thinking she is about to explode. I picked up the last one, pointed at the message as I leaned over towards her as if to ask her to follow along and as she leaned over I said “I love you Aunt Barbara”. She jerked away with a surprised look seemingly trying to understand; then all she could see was this big guy with his arms out to hug her telling her “it’s me Aunt Bobbie, your nephew little Ronnie Yates”. And then the hugging began in earnest and remains one of my sweet memories of an earlier time.