Raising two kids on her own was hard enough for mom, add on top of that, a child who was angry and out of control (or constantly sobbing). It was hard times all around. She did all she could and then one day, brought me a gift by the name of Tory.
Tory was my new big sister and I was instantly drawn to her. I was happy around her and felt like maybe someone understood me. She was a teenager with long, curly brown hair and I couldn't wait for my visits with her!
She would take me out to dinner or to her friends apartment to go swimming in the pool. But one time, she took me to the movies. She took me to see Savannah Smiles.
It is a film about a little girl who feels ignored by her parents so she decides she must run away. A little extreme, even for the 80's, but it had an incredibly relatable context.
I sat in the theater next to my big sister, watching the movie. I felt so connected to Savannah. I loved her little bedroom. She had a framed Strawberry Shortcake poster hanging on the wall. Her brass bed was covered in frilly, yellow and white bedding. There was a gumball machine next to her little t.v.
But alas, even amidst all these wonderful "things" all she really wanted was her mom and dad's affection and attention. She ends up sneaking away from a park and climbs into a beat up car which happens to be the automobile of two escaped convicts named Alvie and Boots. They turn out to be wonderful people (thank goodness) and return her safely to her family, but not before a whirlwind adventure.
By the end of the movie, my eyes were welling up with tears. This is the first movie I remember crying at and I was so embarassed. I did not want my big sister to see me cry but I know she saw. From that moment on, Savannah Smiles was embedded in my memory bank. I still think of her, all these years later.
There are but a few fictional characters that I hold this close to my heart. They are the only ones I could relate to. No real person could give me comfort at that age, no matter how hard they tried. That was, until I met my Tory. I still think of her often and sometimes, long to see her. I don't think I would even recognize her today. The details of her face have slipped from my memory.
I moved out of the state and lived with my dad around fourth grade and thought I'd never see Tory again. But I did, one time! My dad took me to a Michael Jackson concert (The Victory tour) which I believe was in July of 1984 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.
We were walking to our seats and there she was, sitting at a booth, selling t-shirts. She was working the summer concert. There was my Tory! We hugged tight and said our hellos and goodbyes. That was the last time I ever saw her.
I think it's kind of magical that the concert tour was VicTORY and her name is TORY.
My memory of her (and Savannah) is pretty epic!