My Rusty Dennis


A couple of days ago, I picked up a used DVD of the movie Mask. Not the one with Jim Carrey in it, but Cher. I have loved this movie since I first saw it. Not only for the entertainment purposes, but also because there are a lot of similarities between the relationship between Rusty Dennis and her son Rocky, and the relationship between me and my Mom.


Rusty Dennis was the mom of ‘Roy L ‘Rocky’ Dennis. He was born with craniodiaphyseal dysplasia, a very rare bone disorder. It gave him a leonine appearance.


I was born with panhypopituitarism. While Rocky’s illness affected him on the outside, my illness created chaos inside.


There’s a scene in the movie, where a new doctor comes to talk to Rusty about Rocky’s condition, and gives her a bunch of statistics. Rusty pretty much tells him that if she had listened every time a doctor told her that Rocky was going to die, she would have had him in a grave many times over.


I remember my mom pretty much reacting in the same way to the many doctors who have told her over the course of my childhood that I had one fatal malady or another.


In another scene, Rusty and Rocky are at a new junior high school trying to register Rocky for school, and the principal tells her that he wasn’t sure their school was the right one for Rocky. Rusty asks him if they teach Math, English and History, and the principal says yes. Rusty tells him that’s all Rocky needs.


Each new school I went to, I hated going to register. For most of my childhood and well into my teen years, I was much shorter than my peers. So short those in charge didn’t believe I was as old as I was and didn’t want to allow me entrance into the right grade etc. My mom set them straight real quick. She didn’t make friends much with any of the various school authorities, but she definitely made them remember her.


I can recall so many other occasions when my mom had to set people straight or stand up for me. I wasn’t always appreciative then of some of the ways she chose to defend me, but I am now.


Like Rusty loved Rocky, my Mom loved me.


She was always my greatest champion and staunchest supporter.


She was my Rusty Dennis.