When Wanda was three years old she walked into her backyard and found a soccer ball. No one really remembers how that soccer ball got there or where it came from. Back then, in Wanda’s town many folks didn’t even know what a soccer ball looked like, but for this little girl with curly red hair and freckles it was as if someone had left that soccer ball just for her and she loved it.
Wanda built a soccer field in her back yard, it was only a tiny field, the goal made of a few boxes stacked together, but to little Wanda, it was an Olympic stadium. Wanda spent almost all of her spare time in that back yard with her soccer ball. She didn’t play with dolls or jacks or the other things other little girls her age did, all she wanted was that soccer ball and her little homemade field. She was out there every day after school and because she got good grades and was a happy little girl, her parents were happy.
As time moved forward, the world around Wanda changed. Her parents got her a dog, a baby brother and other things, but Wanda and her soccer ball didn’t really notice, she played and practiced every day. Her boxes became a net and her imaginary lines became real, thanks to leftover paint her father had. She would go out into her back yard and play and practice every day and every day she would get a little better. Even her parents though she might play on a league, but Wanda had no desire to share her love with other people.
One day, when Wanda was about twelve years old , without knowing why, walked into the backyard, took apart her homemade goal, and neatly packed it away in the garage. She then lightly kicked the ball into a corner of her yard.
And as one chapter in Wanda’s young life ended, another began. Wanda grew up, her body changed, her attitude changed, and at school, she became more sociable, but just a little. She met other girls her age; she joined a few clubs, got into a little trouble and even started looking at boys. But Wanda was still shy, and kept her head down and stayed in her own thoughts.
In high school Wanda had a few boyfriends, and had a crush on a teacher, as those things sometimes happen, and she even went to the prom. At 19 Wanda married a wonderful boy, who, a few years later became a terrible man and left her with three babies at home.
So, where does this lead? A girl whose first love was a soccer ball, her second love was a teacher and her last love was a man who betrayed her.
Wanda’s mother became ill just a few years ago and died, and while Wanda was walking through her now uncared for but still loved childhood home, with the Olympic stadium in the back yard. Wanda found that now deflated ball hiding in the weeds where she kicked it over 30 years ago, and with that Wanda made a decision. Wanda became a nurse. Wanda’s decision to become a nurse while staring at that old soccer ball made no more sense than the soccer ball appearing in her yard in 1965, but thankfully it did. Wanda has never been happier in her life. You can ask her son and two daughters how happy she is, but don’t ask Wanda or her granddaughter Emily, they’re in the back yard playing soccer.