Thank Heaven, For Lee-tle Gurls
“Thank heaven, for lee-tle gurls. Without them what would lee-tle boys do?” Don sings in an exaggerated French accent — for probably the tenth time already today.
My mom joins in from her spot at the head of our table.
I’m not sure how the old song from GiGi got started with the two of them, but it’s been going strong for at least the last week and shows no sign of waning.
Mom is still beaming even after Don leaves the room to take a call.
“It’s funny how I hear Don’s voice even when he isn’t around,” Mom says. “Sometimes that voice sounds French. Sometimes it sounds like an old woman. But it’s always also Don’s voice.”
I understand what she means. That is part of life with Don — half human, half parrot.
Like me, Mom loves how Don tells stories. He tells them better than anyone I have ever known, recounting both sides of a conversation by becoming the characters, mimicking accents, tics, and mannerisms so vividly I’m often left feeling I was a witness firsthand.
Don has been in my life since we were teenagers in high school. Our dads, Lee Patton and Rolf Tauscher, worked together as chemists at Union Carbide. Don grew up on Lake Chaweva in Cross Lanes.
I grew up on Ridenour Lake in Nitro. He attended Cross Lanes United Methodist while I was a regular at St. Paul United Methodist.
I’m the youngest in my family. He’s the baby in his.
We have so many similarities; are so alike in so many ways.
Except the only laughs generated from me attempting to mimic an accent or do an impersonation comes from them being so bad.
Although Mom and Don knew each other prior to her coming to stay with us, there’s a different kind of knowing that comes from being under the same roof day after day.
And I’ve learned there’s a different level of loving this man who is so good to her. And who has also been so good to my daughter.
A few weeks ago, one of my friends from work was telling me how she and her new boyfriend got together. They had been part of the same large group of friends for years, but it wasn’t until recently, when they were at a wedding of one from their group, that things changed. She said they were at the reception, and she was watching how he was interacting with the children there, taking turns dancing with the littles, swinging them around.
“He was just having the best time with those kids,” she said. “They flocked to him.”
She said he was attentive and thoughtful and protective with them, and she no longer saw only the tall, gangly goofball she had known for years, but also the kind of father he would someday be.
“It occurred to me,” she said, “that I’d found my Don.”
It was such a compliment to have this smart, stunning 28-year-old all excited about having her own version of this man I so completely enjoy. She says I sell him well.
But he’s easy to market.
Don works from home, so every morning, after I go in to work, he fixes breakfast for my late-waking mom. Gives her a breathing treatment. Later fixes her lunch. Races to change her channels when she can’t work the remote.
Sings show tunes on request.
The way he cares for her does something to me. I can’t quite explain it.
But I thank heaven. For lee-tle Don.
Without him what would this lee-tle gurl do?