Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tammy and Trump

I better post this now before Donald Trump fades too far into the background to be meaningful to any of you. I know he's been all the hype lately with the whole Presidential run and the Birth Certificate showing. A few days ago he finally said he wasn't gonna go for the role and now his presence is settling back to where it should be in all your minds. 

But Donald Trump means something different to me and I have to say I don't completely 'dislike' him. Of course the reason I don't completely dislike him has blessed little to do with who he is and what he believes in or his political leanings in any direction, all of which I am blissfully unaware of. My 'like' for The Donald has everything in the world to do with Tammy and a very old memory. 

Who is Tammy? 

Oh goodness where do I begin? First day of  all girl Catholic taught by nuns High School  somewhere in 1984. I walked up and introduced myself. Tammy always had a bright ivory girl face. She did then and still does now. Over the next 4 years we became friends. We had the same group of friends and each of us had kind of a 'best friend' subset as well, so while we would never describe each other as BFF's, we just always 'liked' to hang out. Actually when I think about that, there was never any pressure in my friendship with Tammy and that made it even more appealing. 

After going on a retreat together in our Senior year of High School we decided that we wanted to change the world. I am not sure anymore exactly what it was we were aiming to do but we had both been powerfully touched by our experience at St Gabriel's retreat house on Shelter Island, and decided we needed to devote our life to helping others, particularly children to realize the goodness of God.

 We would talk  at night (I can still hear my Dad yelling at me to get off the phone!) scheming how we could solicit enough money  from donors to open our own place for poor or disabled children. We finally settled on a plan. (Here's where Donald Trump comes in) We reasoned that Mr. Trump had more money then anyone else we knew at the time and he also lived relatively close to us. (Manhattan- while it is never visited by anyone who lives on Long Island- is in fact only a half hour away by train and we do know how to get there if its completely necessary.) This occasion seemed to warrant the trip. We would go into Trump Towers and ask to speak to The Donald and explain our goals clearly to him. We both felt totally sure if he heard how earnest we were in our desire to help these children he would be willing to support our work with the capital; which we figured would be about half a million dollars realistically. I think one of us was then supposed to write this letter asking for the appointment ( and I believe that would have been me, and I may even have a draft of it around here if I look really hard!). But then I lose track of the project. 

I know you are dying to know if I ever asked Mr Trump for the money. You want to know if he said yes or no.You want to love or hate him for that decision and apply it to your already  firm judgment of the man and say "see I knew it! he acted just like I thought he would!" But alas, I can not offer you that kind of satisfaction. You see, I never mailed the letter. And maybe that makes you sad, but not me- and I am pretty sure not Tammy either. Donald Trump still could say yes to us. He could. That promise hangs out there in the winds with no answer. It carries that wonderful word 'hope' in its pages. Two young girls just starting real life, wanting something more- not just for themselves, but for others too.We set out to change the world, to make it something beautiful for God.Both seeing the [potential goodness in all people ( including Donald Trump). It is an image I like to look back on.

So what happened next? Well, I'll tell you...

I think I have always admired Tammy. If ever I had a problem, I wanted to hear what her solution would be if she were in my shoes. I also could always count on her to steer me in the right direction should my natural tendency sway me off course. Going on Senior retreat together kind of solidified our friendship on a different and more lasting plane. She met her husband Steve at the end of senior year ( with a little help from me along the way, though I don't claim sole responsibility) and I can remember watching those early butterfly love feelings develop. After High School she went on to study Special Ed. and since we were still friends I would volunteer at the places she trained. Those days at the Henry Viscardi school for the disabled were some of the best days of my life. I can still see the face of a student by the name of Joshua who had C.P. (and also my heart) as we spent time together. I assure you I gave very little but received so much more! 

And then I met Fred! And my own butterflies began, and Tammy was so happy for us. Six months later there were engagements and weddings.We were both married just months apart. And then Andrew and Sydney, came along, and Peter and Ryann, and folks in earnest every time I called Tammy to tell of a baby she would respond in kind or vice versa. They eventually moved to Georgia, and we moved 5 times before settling in MD. Always we would keep in touch ( even though I am not a good' keep in toucher').

Tammy and Stephen not only had 5 children of their own, they adopted another 5 with special needs along the way. On days I would be struggling to figure out how to handle the shenanigans of my latest little imp, I'd hear Tammy talking about packing wheelchairs into a van and the awkwardness of having strangers approach her son at the mall to ask where his parents were while they were standing beside him, since their skin was not the same color.Always there is laughter. Always, I am refreshed by her perspective.

And now more then 20 years since we decided to change the world, we have 20 children between us. And Donald Trump is considering a run for the Presidency. And he could still say yes....

UPDATE: As of this evening Tammy has welcomed a new son Kellen to her brood. Make that 21! 

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