Karen White-Walker

Karen White-Walker / Editorial Contributor

“I just knew I’d be last,” my middle daughter softly replied. “I always am.”

She was referring to this column about her, and how I’ve previously written about her siblings. She’s right, you know, I tend to direct more attention first toward the other children, but not because I love her less, no way! It’s because she’s so quiet and unassuming. She’s absolutely delightful on a one-to-one basis, but in a crowd…in a crowd I forget she’s even there. If only she would talk while everyone else is talking, make a big production over everything, reveal every minuscule detail of her life and say a million good-byes and then stand at the door for another hour before really leaving, she might feel more like ‘one of us’. All the relatives embrace and love her, but they all can sense that she thinks we’re all a bunch of nosey, nervous, neurotic nellies — especially my sisters and I. I think she respects me too much as her mother to come right out and say as much, but right in front of us, she’ll inhale and exhale disgustingly, reach for the aspirin bottle, and she goes out of her way to keep her friends at bay.

“Mother, I don’t have many friends,” she’ll confide in me.

“Who needs friends?” I’ll spontaneously laugh to make her feel better, “when you have a large, loving, supportive family like us?”

“Mother, you’ll never believe who one of my friends said our extended family reminds her of.”

“Please, dear, it can’t be anybody good, right?”

“She said our family reminds her of the Kennedys.”

“The Kennedys?” I excitedly screamed. “Why, they’re America’s royalty!”

“She said, ‘If you take away the Kennedy’s wealth, position, intelligence, looks and charisma, your family reminds me of them because you’re all so close.’”

My daughter doesn’t talk much but when she does it has such impact; it takes me hours to resume my composure. She’s shy because she has this ridiculous notion that people are always staring at her. She’s right, you know. No, it isn’t paranoia, because they actually are. You see, she has long, very dark naturally wavy hair, striking blue eyes and beautiful facial features. She also has a hearing loss, paralysis on her one side and walks with a limp, and this is why she thinks people are looking at her.

“It’s because you’re beautiful,” I reassure her.

“It’s because I’m different,” is her rebuttal.

“Okay, you’re different! That’s a good thing because who the heck wants to be like everybody else?”

“I do,” she sighs, and there we are, back to the same issue that seems to hold her down from family interaction and exercising her God-given gifts. When she was in high school she came home discouraged, because while playing Volley Ball, she couldn’t with her one hand, throw up the ball and hit it with the other. That was before she discovered she could do both with her one ‘good’ hand and, the hit was so powerful, it almost went through the wall. On her confident days she can improvise and find ways to get around her ‘limitations.’ That’s a good thing.

“Mother, about the Kennedys. You saw three of them, didn’t you?” she asked.

“I certainly did — President John F. Kennedy and Bobby when they came to Lockport many years ago, and Teddy just last year in Hyannisport. They were all so captivating I just stared.”

“Like people do with me,” she sighed.”

“You tell your friend that we’re far more like the Kennedys than she might think.”

No, I thought, my beautiful daughter is.

Karen White-Walker is a Wilson resident who writes a column every Tuesday.

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