About three weeks into our Mom’s sickness, I was sitting on my favorite chair at my grandparents’ kitchen table drawing on a Big Chief tablet, a picture of Superman flying into outer space. Bobbi was napping comfortably in the center of their bed.
The watercooler unit running in the front living room window was soothing, but loud enough for us not to know our Dad had driven up in their 919 West Harding Blvd. driveway.
His knock on the door startled grandmother, who was pouring some Carnation Pet Milk into a clear glass bowl in the kitchen.
She wiped her hands on an dish towel on the way to open the locked front door Dad was knocking on.
“Oh my God, Corky. What’s wrong? What’s the matter?” she said through the screen door.
He was in his uniform and his police car (squad car #62) was parked in the driveway. He wasn’t supposed to be there that time of day.
They walked outside so I couldn’t hear their conversation. When they came back in grandma (I called her ‘Mother’ and Bobbi called her ‘ Me-Me.’) was wiping tears from her eyes.
My tall, handsome father, adjusted his Sam Browne Belt strapped diagonally from his waist across to his right shoulder as he walked toward me.
“Whatcha’ doing there, Son?” he looked down at my drawing and smiled. “Hey, that’s Superman!”
I smiled back, proud he recognized the Man of Steel in my art.
“I just came from the hospital,” he put his hand on my shoulder as he pulled out the chair next to me to sit down. I was too scared to say anything because of my grandmother’s teary eyes.
“Mama was awake and asked me if you have been watching Superman and I Love Lucy. And here I come to tell you and see that you’re drawing a picture of Superman.”
I leaped out of my chair into my father’s arms.
“She can talk? She’s awake, Daddy? She’s awake?”
“Yes, and the doctor said she is getting better. She wanted to know if you’ve been watching your TV shows and being a good boy and she was so happy when I told her you were.”
“We’ve both been good. Even Bobbi Jeanne is good too,” I joined them in tears. “Yes Daddy, I watched I Love Lucy this morning and guess who was on there? It was Superman! Superman helped Lucy not fall down off of a building.”
I couldn’t shut up and blabbered on with excitement. Although I didn’t know what a miracle or serendipity was, it was the first time I would experience it.
Dad and Mother (my grandmother) cradled me in their arms. We were all in tears.
“I prayed, y’all,” I looked up at both of them. “I prayed that God would send Superman to help us and now Momma is better. He listened. I prayed and he listened–and God helped us. And Momma asked about Superman and Lucy.”
Lucille Ball, her husband Desi Arnez, Vivian Vance and William Frawley were the stars of one of most enduring television series in American history.
In I Love Lucy, Ball played the role of Lucy Ricardo, the madcap wife of Cuban bandleader Ricky Ricardo (Arnez). Living in New York, their best friends are their landlords, Fred and Ethel Mertz. Ricky and Lucy welcomed their son ‘Little Ricky’ in 1953, whose birth was a national TV event.
Just as Daddy had told me a month before on our front lawn, and years later NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz would tell my son, to “Reach for the stars” and “Look up in the sky,” television added “It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman!”
The Adventures of Superman series starring George Reeves was produced in the early to late 1950s as was I Love Lucy. By the time I was watching, they were on syndicated reruns.
Looking back, I believe several things happened that day would go on to have a profound effect on my life. The love felt from my family was intense, Momma was awake, serendipity would be key, but most of all, God answered prayers.
(Note: The second after I wrote that last paragraph above this, serendipity kicked in. I received a phone call. Dodie was sitting next to me. I may write about it someday, but because it’s such a personal concern I choose not to go into detail. But what I can say is the call was a miracle and an answer to Dodie and my recent prayers. Something came up very unexpected in the past week that literally could have had life disrupting consequences. Against practically all odds, the phone call brought phenomenon like news. God is truly good).
So, on the morning of the day my father told me Mom wanted to know if I had been watching Superman and I Love Lucy, I had.
Call it what you want–my Grandmother was there and called it a miracle–but the exact television show I watched not even 20 minutes before Dad walked in the door was the I Love Lucy episode called “Lucy and Superman”
Undoubtedly, it’s my favorite all-time Lucy episode in that series. When Lucy promises Little Ricky that Superman will attend his fifth birthday party, she has to scramble together a plan.
Dressed in a wacky Superman costume, Lucy gets stuck on the high rise apartment balcony while the “real” Superman (played by George Reeves) shows up at the party.
When Momma came home just a few days later, I explained what happened and she agreed Superman may have saved her, but it was God who answered our prayers.
Then, in a way I could barely understand, she did her best try to explain what a “school” is.
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Categories: Wisdom and Cleverness