When my daughter, Laura, was in kindergarten in Homewood, she was already the lovely, effervescent, athletic, focused, kind, intelligent, fearless, and spirited lass that she is today as Laura Owens Barfield, wife of Clay and mother of the incomparable Elizabeth.
The essence of Laura is her humor and pluck. She has grit, can take a punch, or, in her case, a fall off the beam in gymnastics where she excelled on her team at the Joel Inman Gymnastics Academy. Laura practiced long and hard in the gym, then delivered splendid performances when it counted. Though wiry and slight of build like Elizabeth, every inch of Laura was made to last and to excel. I could not contain my pride in her then. I still can’t. She is my hero.
One day Laura came home from school deep in thought. Something was up. I asked her what is was. She explained that she liked a boy at school who was not paying any attention to her. She wanted him to notice her. “Here’s what you do,” I said. My wife Pat shot me an oh no look. “When recess starts,” I told Laura, “I want you to calmly walk up to this boy, give him your best smile, say hello, then tackle him without warning. Take him straight to the ground.” Pat’s face froze in horror. “Don’t do it Laura,” Pat advised. However, Laura was ablaze with enthusiasm.
I could not wait to see Laura the next afternoon. “Did you tackle him?” I asked. “Yes”, Laura said in triumph. “What did he do?” “He ran away from me as fast as he could and never looked back,” she said with a grin.
Which was to be the story of Laura’s non-relationship with this boy for the duration of their years in school at Homewood, graduating in the same H.S. class, then four years together at the University of Alabama, where he never looked back or came near her. He kept his distance and has not looked back to this day, afraid no doubt of being tackled when he least expects it.
Laura took it all in stride with her usual humor, now gleefully teaches her daughter, Elizabeth, how to tackle. A girl has to be prepared to take a chance.