I have been thinking about Rouark, my knight in dull armor. He is no longer with me. I sold him. I sold him for twenty dollars and watched a man walk away with Rouark held awkwardly under his arm. Rouark is a 4' knight complete with a sword and a helmet visor that can be opened or shut. Rouark stood silently yet valiantly over my life from the time I was twelve to about six months ago. I got him from my beloved Uncle Bob. He got him in some shadowy mysterious way and gave him to me due to the fact that Rouark scared the crap out of my cousins. They would freak out at night when they saw Rouark standing guard. I have had re-occurring nightmares from early childhood on but Rouark never scared me. He was my knight.
I took him to college with me. I had to go to a college I felt was beneath me. My dad had gone through two bouts of cancer my junior and senior years of high school. He spend seven weeks in a Cancer ICU ward at Baylor Hospital in Dallas, Tx battling for his life. Rouark stood guard over my anger at God and my tears of grief and loneliness as I grappled with life and meaning and disease and death. My dad did not die and life resumed. With the huge medical bills I was forced to go to a small jr. college in East Texas. My mother was insistant that I needed to live in a dorm and "be a normal college kid." Let's just face it being "normal" in any circumstance isn't really my bag.
I wanted to stay at home and go to UT Arlington. She made a deal with me -- one semester and if I still wanted to come home and attend UT Arlington I could. I figured I could handle four months of the piney woods of Kilgore, the once oil capitol of Texas. Oh, I failed to mention the world-famous Rangerettes were from Kilgore College. Only I had never heard of these world-famous Rangerettes thank you very much. At the time I thought of them as a glorified drill team! Little did I know that a dearly beloved friend would become one of those Rangerettes, a very least-likely friend for me. I was about as far from the whole drill team thing as a girl could get. Rouark stood guard over my dorm room. He silently watched as I grew to love East Texas and this little college.
He was there when I fell in love with a student pilot in the next town. Steve was attending LeTourneau University in Longview, Tx. We met at a restaurant called The Hot Biscuit. Ahh, what a wonderous place that Hot Biscuit was. With free iced tea refills as long as needed to pull the late into the night studying. It is there in that dimly lit restaurant that I first laid eyes on Steve. We had been passing a note back and forth between my table of friends and Steve's through the waitress for quite some time. When we decided it was time to go I walked across the room and said something brilliant like, "We have to go, we are taking the note with us, we plan on recycling." Steve in his New York Yankees baseball cap whipped off his little round glasses in a sweeping dramatic gesture that had me at hello.
Rouark was there in our first little house, our honeymoon cottage, a tiny three-room (with a bathroom so small that you had to carefully position yourself in the opening and closing of the door so as not to get squashed between the door and shower) once office for the three-bay garage next door.
Rouark was there in the house we bought for next to nothing as it was worth next to nothing. It was in the "bad part of town", our friends would lock their doors and dart from their car to our house afraid of being mugged or something like that. There was a crack house just down the street where Steve played the occasional Basketball. We weren't too concerned, we didn't have anything anyone would want to steal. The house directly across from us was filled to capacity with Mexicans that played spanish music loudly out into the night every weekend. I would pretend I was on Holiday in a balmy Mexican village with my balcony doors opened, the ocean breezes stirring the gauzy curtains to the exotic music being played on the village square below.
Rouark silently and stoically took a punch from Steve during a raging fight he and I had one night. I don't even remember what the fight was about. It shocked all of us (Rouark, Steve and I) that Steve would act out in anger. Steve is very laid back and calm. I must have been in rare form that fight. Of couse Steve felt bad and fixed Rouark whose metal chest had caved in from the impact of Steve's fist. Steve sawed a hole in Rouark's back and pushed the dent out, it wasn't perfect but it served as a reminder that some dents remain no matter how hard one tries to mend them.
Rouark was there as we brought each of our beautiful babies home for the first time. He moved around room to room and finally landed a place on our porch standing steadfast next to the front door. We live in a townhouse and it was how our home stood out for visitors and friends. Rouark was the first one to greet all our friends and family.
I sold him. I sold him in an act of firmly affirming to myself our life is changing in every possible way. When the man asked how much for the tin knight. I said, "His name is Rouark." I even spelled it out for the bewildered stranger. And somehow in that moment it seemed I needed to let go of Rouark. It wasn't about the money, it was something deeper. As I, in disbelief of what I had just done, watched the man walk away with Rouark, I wondered if Rouark felt the pain in my heart. I wondered if he thought he had done something wrong. I wonder if he stoically took it as all good knights in service to their knigdom should, but, somewhere, under the metal armor, did his heart break as mine did?
Rouark, my once knight in dull armor, with me no more... May you serve your new kingdom with the royal valor you did in mine.