My nephew was recently given a going away party by one of his former high school teachers, as he will soon be attending the University of Oxford for his masters degree. The send-off, held in an old, well-maintained log cabin in a historical part of town, was attended by many of the family members and familiar friends that have always been a part of our small, friendly community. There were pictures from the past on the tables and the stony hearth; lots of smiles and laughter, delicious confections, plenty of nostalgic atmosphere, and sentimental stories told by teachers who helped to influence Casey’s life during all of his growing-up years. Thinking back to his past made me remember an unusual situation that happened one Halloween night- long, long ago. . .
My sister pulled into the parking lot of her church, to take in some of that night’s much anticipated fall festival; after a somewhat brief time of trick-or-treating with her son, Casey, when he was three years old. (She had earlier taken off his awkward and bulky little bumble bee suit, so that she could put him in his child seat.) Casey’s mom got out and opened the back door of the car, unhooked her cute little tyke from his safety device, and hurriedly dressed him- so that they wouldn’t miss any more of the festivities than they already had. She lovingly held his tiny hand as they walked down the sidewalk and through the side door of the church- past many people- in order to eventually make it to the activity building, where a large and mirthful crowd was gathered inside for fun and games.
Casey’s bumble bee costume was a fat, round orb, with black-and-yellow stripes, which covered him from his little neck down to the top of his two little legs. It had a black, cone-shaped stinger about a foot long that stuck out in the back where his little bottom was; as well as little black leggings, little black shoes, long black sleeves covering his two little arms, and two cute little antennae that stood straight up on the top of his cute little head. His chubby little cheeks were painted with a couple of rosy circles, along with a little black bee nose. He carried his tiny little pumpkin bucket, full of candy, as he bounced alongside his mom.
My sister soon started to notice that she and her son were getting many odd stares, concerned looks, and awkward smiles- even a few snickers- as they moved through the meandering church crowd toward the activity building. She shook several hands along the way and said the usual pleasantries; but everyone she met and spoke with seemed to make a point not to look down at the bee. Then, when the two finally got inside the gym where the games (and even more people) were, they met the pastor’s wife walking toward them, as she carried in her arms an overstuffed box-full of unneeded, tangled streamers. Her mouth dropped as she stopped dead in her tracks. “What is he suppose to be?”she asked, with a bit of uncomfortable surprise in her voice.
“A bee,” said my sister, thinking it was obvious.
“Really?” was the confused and concerned reply from the wife of her pastor.
Casey’s mom then looked down at the little person whose hand she held. She immediately reacted with shock at what she saw. For you see, in the earlier darkness out in the parking lot, when she rushed and struggled to cram the bee suit over her son’s head, and stick his arms and legs through, she had inadvertently put the darn thing on backwards. The unfortunate and unforgettable result was that she’d unknowingly just paraded her son through the church, in front of hundreds of people; with his disproportionately long bee stinger sticking straight out in front, instead of the back where it was suppose to be! Picture it- quite a disturbing (albeit amusing) image at a church fall festival. Obviously, the little bee made a big impression that night.
Casey has been making big impressions ever since, ones that are more meaningful than what an ill-positioned stinger could ever do. His academic achievements are second to none. He has a creatively fertile mind. He has a terrific and respected work ethic. He has a fun-loving, caring personality.
He’ll be missed by all that know him, for the year that he will be gone away to England. Sometimes it just has to be that way, when you’re getting trained to make a difference- a little hometown bee, taking on the world. . .