Crow's-Feet Chronicles: I'm defined by my heroes
By Cindy Baker Burnett
Feb 4, 2019
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From birth to about age 18 and beyond, my hero was my sister Kathy. Actually, she still is my hero. She was always the pretty one, the slender one, the smart one, and the popular one. Amazingly, she always let me tag along with her and her friends. When she and her fellow high school twirlers took a ride in our family jeep, I was allowed to accompany them. And when we ran out of gas, I was “allowed” to haul a gas can to the nearest “filling station” and back.

Except for the time I got car sick and threw up out of the passenger side window, Kathy and the twirlers allowed me to accompany them to twirler competition. And what a treat for me to dress like the majorettes and work in the concession station at the Kueckelhan Rodeo! For a few hours, I was a rock star. In my mind, anyway.

I shudder to think of the night Kathy was getting ready for the prom and I set her hair on fire. Maybe I was jealous. At any rate, burning hair certainly does have a stench. Hopefully, some courageous soul danced with her.

Living vicariously through Kathy’s social life, I sometimes committed the unforgiveable sin of pretending to be her on the telephone. “Hello?”

“Is this Kathy?” the male voice asked.

“Uh…YES,” I’d answer, knowing my days were numbered.

“This is Dickie. Would you like to go to the movies Saturday night?”

“Absolutely! I’ll be ready at 7:00.” Being ready at 7:00 was the first challenge for Kathy. The second challenge was that she already had a date with Roger that same night. What to do, what to do. After searching the telephone book (the thickness of the grocery insert in the daily newspaper), I found Roger’s phone number.


“Is this Roger?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Roger, this is Kathy. I’m sorry that I won’t be able to go on a date on Saturday night. I have a 24-hour virus.”

“But this is Tuesday,” he answered.

“Uh…I know, but the doctor said I will probably have it two times back-to-back.”

When I grew up and had a family of my own, my new hero was Erma Bombeck. I couldn’t appreciate her writings until my kids had gone through every phase of articles she wrote. When she finally emptied her dirty close hamper and found a baby bib at the bottom (and her baby was 13), I could relate. When she said she waited to clean out the refrigerator until she could tie the celery in a knot, I could relate.  And when she said she finally mopped the kitchen floor when it became adhesive, I could relate.

Here I am—72 years old with miles and miles of grit and grime. Sure, I’ll fight for a cause…as long as it doesn’t get me up from the table. But I still have some bite left in me and I’m not afraid to use it. Who, you probably wonder, could possibly now be my hero. That’s easy.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg.