Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Doris - My Hero

Doris Ruth (Fuller) Larson Ryan, age 48, of Cove, Arkansas passed away February 28, 2011 at UAMS.

Doris was my hero. I found her obit in today's paper and cried.

She appeared on my radar in the spring of 1975, the day the results of the Junior High cheerleader tryouts were announced. Eight of the girls were no surprise; the usual suspects - cute little petite popular girls. And then there was Doris. All through the day everyone was asking, "Who is this Doris girl???"

In an era of cutesy names like Mitzi, Jenni, and Kristi, there was Doris. Doris, a name associated more with grandmotherly smells and sensible orthopedic shoes than perky little cheerleaders. Doris.

You see, Doris was one of those 7th grade girls nobody noticed. She was tall, gawky, all arms and legs; towered over everyone and slouched just a little to fit in. She had a mop of wild, curly carrot-red hair she hadn't yet learned to tame. She didn't wear makeup and dressed like a tomboy. She was practically invisible to the tight social cliques of a small-town Junior High.

But she had given it her all in the cheerleader tryouts and earned a coveted spot. Against all odds, she, who once was a Nobody, suddenly became a Somebody. She was living proof that Cinderella stories can and do come true, a hero to all little geeky girls who can only dream of sitting at the Cool Kids table at lunch. I always wondered if that fateful day in '75 had a dramatic impact on the outcome of her life. Did she dance in her glass slipper or did it cause blisters?

I didn't know Doris personally because we were in different grades and ran with different crowds, she an exalted Cheerleader and I a lowly Band Geek. I doubt she would have even recognized my name. But I admired her from afar, marveling at the grace with which she carried her unexpected fame.

I've thought about Doris from time to time over the years and wondered where she was and how she was getting on. Sadly, that question was answered today.

Rest in peace Doris. You will always be my hero.