Happy BDay Bessie Girl


"What did you get Clay for Christmas Grandma Q?"
One of the finest moments of my life...

My daughter Bess in a lot of ways reminds me of my mother.  My mother “Calm as a hurricane” her senior yearbook stated, quit Hunnington College and joined the Coast Guard during War World II and ” I loved it. I saw Sinatra in New York. Met your father, a Navy Pilot in St. Petersburg, Fla. It was a grand time!”

My mother’s first grandchild was our first son Clay. My middle name is the middle name of my grandmother, Bessie Clay Morgan Davis. My grandmother would say she hated her name, “My name sounds like a cow.” My mother made “no bones about it” that the most special grandchild was her first born Clay. “I don’t give a damn what you or they think…he’s my first boy and he’s my favorite.”

You might not agree with that, you probably don’t like people like that, (my wife didn’t…at first) but with my mother what you saw was what you got. I love her irreverence.

One Christmas we went to visit my mother  with at the time our two children, Clay and Bess. My mother had had five boys, she knew boys. She knew what to buy them and she knew what they liked. Balls, sports shoes, games about sports, jerseys, etc. It did not go unnoticed with my wife that my mother favored Clay, it seemed. (My mother adored my oldest brother Rushton and my little brother Jeff, I knew that she counted on me, but her heart was with Rushton first then with her youngest Jeff. She loved doing things with Cooper, and discussing events and politics with Bob. I was basically someone she could depend on but boring.)

On this particular Christmas we arrive in LaGrange at 103 N. Lewis St (the house that saved me) and are greeted by my mom in the living room just inside the front door.

After hugs and salutations Bess says with the utmost sincerity and anticipation, ” Grandma Q…what did you get Clay this year?”

I think that what Bess said as a three year old was foreboding and so Bess.

So…I have had a lot of ups and downs in my life… I mean I have had my share of both. I want to tell you one of my finest moments as a parent. The Gainesville Ballet Company in Gainesville, Ga has a surprisingly sophisticated Ballet Company for a community its size. A lot of this is because it is associated with Brenau University and it has a dynamic artistic directory, Miss Diane.

My wife and Bess began the Ballet Process when Bess was about six or so and Bess dutifully participated through her senior year in high school. There were some tough times…when girls in ballet reach high school the attrition rate escalates. Bess almost succumbed to it but I think her acknowledgement of all her mother had done to support her kept her in the program. I also may have been that she was good at ballet. She was flexible and her body could withstand the gruelling physical demands that ballet and Ms. Diane entailed. In scouts, boys drop out on their road to Eagle Scout because of the “fumes”….car fumes and perfumes. In a different way, ballet is similar. Bess resisted and continued on…

It is 7pm on a Sunday night…I am at the lake with three dogs and it’s getting dark and I must get home as my mother used to say, “before the street lights come on.”

I’ll finish the story tomorrow…..one of the finest moments I ever had as a parent. Don’t get me wrong, I have had others as well with each of my children…but today is Bessie’s birthday.

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