Plain Jane, the Hero

Shelley Prissinotti

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Poco A Poco

“I just love those days when I can help other people feel like SuperGirl!”  Maggie announced enthusiastically through the empty paper towel roll that had been saved in the pantry for such performances as this.

“Ya?” Mom said, “tell me about it!” as she busily continued cooking dinner for the soon-to-be arriving others, “and grab me a few carrots out of the fridge, please.”

“Do you remember that girl, Jane, from my high school days?” Maggie said as she moved toward the fridge to help out.

“Not sure, hon.” Mom said as she was given the carrots and quickly moved to put them in the sink for a quick rinse.

“She was the girl who had it all together, Mom” Maggie said, “she was just always so perfect and self assured.”

“Oh.  Okay” Mom said, “so what about her?”

“Three years ago she’d gotten into this unfortunate skiing accident.  Blew out her knee along with tons of other injuries and wound up having, like, a total of twelve surgeries.”

“Oh my!” said Mom. “So, what happened?”

“Well, in between surgeries and during her recuperation time she had slipped into this mild depression and just couldn’t seem to pick herself back up.  Eventually her work had to let her go because she was missing  so much time and then”, I paused to take a breath, “her mom passed away from pancreatic cancer; that’s when she really started to fall apart.”

“Goodness gracious, Maggie” Mom said and stopped her peeling and dicing to look at me.

“Well, I held her in such high regard back in those days, and I must admit, for all the wrong reasons,  and to see her walk into my flower shop today was such a complete surprise.  She came in to pick out a bouquet for her sisters new baby and we just started talking.”

“When you say she was ‘just always so perfect’, what do you mean?” Mom asked.

“Oh, you know, her hair was always styled so nice, she wore the cutest clothes and everyone always wanted to be her friend” I said, “but you know what she told me?!” Mom shook her head as I continued, “she told me that she had always just seen herself as a Plain Jane”.  Mom remained quiet as I continued, “she said that it wasn’t until the accident that she knew who her real friends were, those who actually cared and held her in high esteem.  Those were the friends who didn’t care that her hair wasn’t perfect.  Those were the friends that giggled with her about wearing the Patient Uniform, the ones who liked her for her, not for her clothes or makeup or whatever.  She said she was still working hard on climbing out of her rehabilitation and even apologized for her appearance.  Do you want to hear what I told her Mom?”  Mom nodded her head and started to smile at me.  I told her what you had always told me growing up, that I “don’t have to be perfect in this life, but I have to keep believing in myself and I have to keep trying.  You taught me that, Mom, and it felt so good to lift her up like you had always done for me!”  I paused, smiled, looked Mom right in the eye and continued with a knot in my throat, “You know what?  The older I get, the more I realize how much I appreciate and admire you!”

“Awww, honey” Mom said as she dived in to give me a big hug.  “You’ve always been wiser than your years, my dear, I’ve always been so proud of you, even when you were far from perfect.”  As we giggled and went back to slicing and dicing, she said, “it’s true.  You don’t have to wear a cape to be admired.”

To that, I must agree.

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