So Rosa's gone now too.
I suppose it's something we're going to have to get used to, as more and more of the Grownups shuffle off, leaving us Kids to run the store. Blankly we blink, puzzled, lost: Oh, you mean, the Grownups aren't always going to be here? You mean, we're in charge of all this now?
You mean to say, now that Rosa's gone, the next person to do something that unimaginably brave and true and life-changing is going to have to be, well, you know, me?
They died and left me in charge? Who the hell thought that was good idea?
A few years ago, when young Betty was about seven or so, she came home with a school assignment: She was to choose a character from US history, write a few lines about that person's contribution, get together a costume, and then do a little first-person speech in front of the class.
Betty chose Rosa Parks. A fine choice, we thought.
Wonder Woman and I helped her with her assignment, finding just the right paragraphs to plunder in the encyclopedia, assembling the costume, drilling her on her lines. I gave her public-speaking hints, about how to talk to the back of the room with head held high, to speak slowly and pause between sentences to let meaning sink in. She was, well, not terrified at the prospect of speaking in front of the class (today she aspires to be an actress, and has been in two plays), but apprehensive.
We practiced all evening, Betty in her little white hat and gloves, her best dress, handbag crooked in her elbow.
I am Rosa Parks. In 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, African-American people had to ride in the back of the bus...
She dutifully held her head unnaturally high and p-r-o-j-e-c-t-e-d to the back wall of our bedroom as she practiced, butterflies in her stomach. Watching her, I was helpless with the knowledge that I couldn't do the speech for her. I had the first hint of the melancholy thought that I've had over and over since then: This sweet, sweet, sweet tiny little girl, who so depends on the Grownups in her life, can't always be safe at home with Mommy and Daddy.
...and the Bus Boycott helped other African American people believe that they could change the laws too, and they started the Civil Rights Movement.
The Grownups are going to die and leave her in charge too, wondering just who thought that was a good idea.
Rosa still teaches, even in death.