Pollyanna and the Road Not Taken

Lyda here. Ramblings and musings today…

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;         
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,         
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.      
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

My father bucked public opinion all his life. He joined the Marines at 17 and served in the Pacific in WWII. When he returned, it was expected that he would become a doctor like his father. Dad chose theater instead. Then he divorced his first wife to marry my mother. This was a huge scandal – it was the fifties. His parents never really approved of, nor understood, my father’s choices.

Mom was salutatorian of her high school class, and went to college on full scholarship. She took twice as many credits every semester as she was supposed to – each time, she had to convince the Dean of Women to give permission. Mom would say, “It won’t set a precedent, because I’m on scholarship and it probably won’t be renewed, and I have to get in as much as I can now. I won’t be here long enough to graduate.” But she did graduate, with very high marks, with a degree in English – it was her worst subject, so she kept taking more English classes to improve. Like Vimes, she wore her hair shirt on the inside.  She took math classes for fun, but could not major in it because the head of the mathmatics department did not think that women could do math. In one of her math classes, the professor told her to sit in the back of the class and to keep quiet, and then ignored her – for the entire semester. She received a B++++, because he refused to give a woman an A. Yeah, the fifties. We’ve come a long way baby. But not far enough.

My mother sang in the church choir growing up – she had a voice of great range and beauty. She shocked her parents when she stopped going to church – she had discovered that she violently disagreed with everything the preacher was saying. And then while she was in college, she went off to summer stock and brought home “that theater boy.” They married the day after she graduated. And then drove off to do more summer stock.

Dad and Mom worked shows together, and raised a family. Dad built sets, taught, directed plays, and wrote plays. And got his Ph.D. Mom taught, sewed costumes, did makeup, and whatever else was needed. And when we were lucky, she performed.

On stage, she could sing like an angel, shriek like a banshee, and do any accent or vocal trick she’d ever heard. She was a powerful dramatic actor and a gifted comedianne. She could play a dangerously sexy vixen, a virtuous heroine, or an aged crone. On opening night of one melodrama, when she begged for alms, the audience threw her money. Without missing a beat, she said, “Throw the big ones, dearies, my old eyes can see them better.” And they did.  She brought audiences to their knees, and to their feet. She stopped the show.

My parents ignored what was expected of them. They reached for their dreams.

And that has made all the difference.


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