In the fall of my Sophomore year, there was a Voice of Democracy contest at my high school. I decided to enter and with that in mind, came home and started writing. When my dad came home from the office, I asked him to listen to what I had written and offer suggestions which he did.
I won the contest at school and was asked to participate in the city-wide contest with one representative from each high school. When I came home with the great news, my mother said, “Well, of course, you won. Your dad wrote the whole thing for you.” My elevated mood was ruined. She managed to do the opposite of turning lemons into lemonade. She turned joy into disaster.
After the city-wide contest, I was the only runner-up with a big smile on her face. Dad would have been able to capture the top spot with his writing and my effort did not take first, second or third. Being runner-up proved I had written my own speech!
Being runner-up had only one more duty–posing for a picture for the town newspaper.
Six months later, I would open a kitchen cabinet in my new stepmother’s home and come face to face with that newspaper clipping. Yes, I was living a far from normal life.