Hans Christian Andersen’s story of The Ugly Duckling is one we can all relate to a little. If you are unfamiliar with the real version of this story, due to its age or lack of political correctness, is the story of a little “duckling” who was teased relentlessly by his siblings for being less attractive than they. He was bigger, mis-colored(?), and not like the rest. He left home, lived a little, battled all sorts of challenges, then ended up at a brand new pond. In this new abode he noticed a beautiful swan, fell in love and realized that he wasn’t an ugly duckling at all, but a beautiful male swan. They were married and lived happily ever after. While I have never asked mom her opinion of this little tale, I fully expect she loved it because she has always been a huge fan of the underdog. Here are two pieces I penned that discuss this: Link Link
I have spotted myself in this story many times over the years. I have often been considered the super nice, but less attractive of the Applegate boys. Often challenged by being overweight, I have battled being sad for decades, much like the duckling. Add to this my uber odd sense of humor and you have the makings of an Ugly… Markling? But mom, for my whole life, has never made me feel that way and has been one of my biggest fans (just behind my wife and tied with my dad) throughout the years. (Note: My wife’s only real character flaw is her lack of good taste in husbands, but I digress)
Why do I bring this up? Last night in our time together, my stepdad and I were talking about his garden a little since mom wasn’t super talkative and since mom always liked working in the garden and could feel connected to the conversation instead of just being there between us as we talked. This is a good strategy…NEVER talk about them, over them, through them, or as if they weren’t there. They deserve better!…and we don’t know what they do and do not understand. So I rip out a dad joke, as I am wont to do. Did I mention I am a super odd, late 40s kind of dad. My stepdad said “Your mom was the queen of bean snappin’ in the garden! Maybe someday soon she can be my bean snapper again?!” (said with semi-false optimism) My reply was “Well, I would try to help, but with my poor gardening skills I am probably much more suited as a bean buster!”. Then an amazing thing happened. Mom stopped staring through the TV that was playing Andy Griffith and loudly belly-laughed and said “bean buster!”. Mom gets my humor even if it is at a 5th grade level, less sanctified level. She has always loved her little Ugly Duckling! I sure will miss mom someday when she is gone!
On a semi-related note, I may have mentioned it before, but between 35-40 years ago we had a pet duckling–an actual duckling, not a swan. We were at Table Rock Lake and saw her (?) getting picked on by the other ducklings. Mom insisted we take her home, name her Donna, and raise her for a while…and we did just that. We kept her for a couple seasons until it seemed like she could fend for herself, then turned her loose at the same place. Hopefully her instincts were good enough to figure out the feeding and predator concerns, but had we not got her she would not have made it. Mom always loved the underdog…and her kids, including goofy ole me.
Update: I had a super nice visit with mom. She is about the same as (the new) always, but she did smile and laugh a few times and seemed to be happy and pain free. The same could not be said for one of my favorite founding Sweet 17 members. *** “Mrs. B”, one who was very similar to mom in physical stature and strength when mom moved in, hasn’t eaten or drank in multiple days and will likely trade dementia for wings soon. 🙁 Such a sweet soul, and younger than mom, soon to be snatched away from friends and family. Sooooo sad…but, the rest of the story is her strong Christian faith. Therefore, while I will miss seeing her face when I visit the old band, I will see her in heaven someday.
Note: Our little Walk to End Alzheimer’s team has exceeded our team goal of $500. We would love to blow it out of the water and would also love to have you join us on the Walk Saturday morning. Here is the link. 🙂 Donate if you can, but don’t feel obligated. Another informal announcement here that I will make bigger closer to time. Me and a good, new friend are starting an Alzheimer’s Support Group the 3rd Tuesday of every month at the SeniorAge Headquarters at 1735 S Fort Ave, Springfield, Mo. 65807. Our first group is October 15th. 🙂 More details will follow.
***Note: I don’t use names, or close to names here…I would never breach privacy for gain, even if it isn’t financial. I use nicknames so you can follow their story. It isn’t perfect and I need to go back through and recheck that I haven’t duplicated any…but it is what it is.
Bonus note: While I have been a Christian for decades now, I still have areas of myself that need some more work…many of them. Never follow people…always follow Christ. People let us down. He doesn’t. He is the example. 🙂