Articles and Editorials - Ode to Vanessa
By Johnny Betts
I usually try to avoid being too serious, but a dear friend of mine is
possibly on her last legs, so I hope you'll excuse me for breaking character
just a bit to offer a tribute to someone who truly deserves one. Sometimes you
just have to speak from the heart. Thanks for listening.
Since the plump-cheeked days of my early youth, Vanessa was always
there. I didn't really get to know her until my senior year of high
school, but even before that she was there, waiting to help me whenever
the need may arise.
When I needed to get to baseball practice or wrestling practice, she was
there. When Baker's Dozen and I decided to skip the school dance to go
to a movie, she was there. She never questioned my motives or offered
anything other than her support.
Vanessa wasn't very pretty during my senior year of high school, and it
hurt whenever I heard anybody comment on it. But during freshman year
of college, Vanessa blossomed into the beautiful specimen I always knew
she had the potential to be. Negative comments were transformed into
flattering compliments. Vanessa went from being ignored to being
adored, and I was her closest friend. People were finally seeing the
beauty in her that I had always known was there.
Vanessa saw me through college. When I got my degree, she was there.
When I met my lovely wife Stephanie, Vanessa was there. Was she jealous
of the relationship I shared with Stephanie? No, Vanessa wasn't the
jealous type. Respect and support were more her manner. She instantly
loved Stephanie just as much as she loved me, and that love transcended
all other feelings.
When I applied for my first real job out of college, Vanessa was there.
When the Mad Libs had a road trip planned, Vanessa was right there
willing to help. She never said no, she never let me down. Oh, she
wasn't always at full strength, but even the best have their bad days,
no one can deny that. The important thing is that no matter what
condition she was in, she was always there.
But time and tear take their toll on a body, and yesterday, life's cruel
hand of indifference took its anger out on Vanessa.
Vanessa's in fairly critical condition now. I won't go into specifics
because they won't help the matter. But Vanessa always wanted to go
out in a blaze of glory, and she just may have gotten her wish. The
fight's not over yet, not by a long shot. My prayers and efforts to
keep Vanessa going will remain strong until the very end.
I couldn't get through this without Stephanie. She knows the friendship
Vanessa and I had, she shared it too. Sometimes you just have to refuse
to give up hope, so we sit at hope's door, waiting for the latch to be
And while we sit back and wait to see what the final outcome will be, we
can't help but look at what life is all about. When something
unexpected like this happens everything changes. The air isn't as
clear, the water isn't as fresh, the steak isn't as juicy, and Seinfeld
just doesn't seem as funny anymore.
So will Vanessa ride again? Well, it's in God's hands now, but I have
faith that she will. And if she doesn't? Then I have a feeling that
the music won't play quite as loudly here from now on because they sure
don't make cars like Vanessa anymore.