How Rosie triumphed over us all – by Deborah Levine

I’d just driven into my parents’ driveway. I was time to pick up my toddler from the babysitting grandparents.  And there was my little 3-year-old Rosie, rocking back and forth on her rocking horse without a care in the world. The horse squeaked and groaned on its springs, far too annoying to be allowed in the house.

I stood stoically as the ex-military intelligence officer I call father pointed to the open garage door accusingly. “Your daughter has a big pisk!” yelled dad as he yanked open my car door.

“Ah, this should be good,” I thought. “One immovable object meets another.” I knew better than to ask what happened or admit to ignorance about the ‘pisk’. Years later I learned it meant ‘big mouth’ in Yiddish, a childhood language my father claimed he’d forgotten, but my daughter brought into focus.

Rosie added an extra bounce to make it louder as we stood watching her. Dad’s mouth tightened into a thin line. He marched into the house and slammed the door behind him.  Given the look he gave me, he expected me to  punish my daughter.  Maybe I should. But on second thought, I really wanted my daughter to grow being afraid of nothing, including dad.

“Maybe it’s time to go,” I guffawed as Rosie and I walked to the car. “What was Grandpa so upset about?” She gave me her angel face, the sweet smile and innocent eyes. I could almost hear her thinking, ‘Who knows? He gets that way. Not my problem.” Chuckling, I picked up the adorable pink bundle and hugged the only person to ever best my father. By evening all was forgotten but the hugs and kisses. Rosie understood better than any of us that the snit would pass; why fuss with the details.

In the coming decades, it was hard to tell who loved her most, but the mom and the grandpa were always at the top of the list. Dad had been trained by Rosie to do as she said and when she said it. Dad passed away after a dozen years of battling chronic illness, fading a bit more with each year. Yet, he was always her biggest fan and  left Rosie the money to attend medical school, a long haul and difficult career that was definitely her choice, not mine. I wasn’t surprised that the two of them together were invincible and I had long since learned to back off.


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