With all the differences in the world today I would like to use this post to focus on different people. But not their differences. I would like to highlight people who are different than me who have made a difference in my life. Who I am today has been molded by different people. I will not post real names for privacy reasons, but I will share the stories because it is important to share with others, what others have shared with me; and to let the world know that all people have an impact on each other.
Let’s go back to the beginning, 1st grade. I was a quiet, shy child; an introvert, but I didn’t know it then. I could generally be comfortable with anyone, but I wasn’t much in the way of conversation. Being 6, I could not read, or write very well at all. Our class would separate into reading/writing groups, I was always sent off with the slower group. My classroom teacher, a black woman, we’ll call her Mrs. J., noticed one day that i was left handed and being left handed herself, began to teach me herself instead of sending me off with my reading /writing group. Mrs. J. worked with me and taught me how to form my letters in the way of a left handed person. In a short time I learned to write, and becoming better and more familiar with letters and words she quickly taught me how to read. And i never stopped reading. This one woman, Mrs. J., taught me what no one else could. She gave her time and her knowledge to help me, and instilled in me a life time love of reading. 25 yrs. later, to my absolute delight, I found Mrs. J. was a teacher at my sons school. Not only that, but she was my sons reading teacher! All those years she spent tirelessly teaching our community. She is truly a blessing to my family, and to countless others whom she influenced and inspired.
Grade 3, Mrs. G. Still the quiet child, and by this time a total book worm; Mrs. G. my 3rd grade teacher, a black woman, would bring me her daughters books to take home and read. I would borrow one or two, read and return them to her and she would bring me more. Because of her kindness I read the entire series of “The Babysitters Club” during my 3rd grade years. She was amazing. She helped to foster my love of reading, and went above and beyond her job as a teacher. Not every teacher would be so kind as to share their children’s things with their students.
Fast forward to age 20. I was a single mother, doing the best I could. Maria was a Mexican women I worked with. On my day off, out of the blue, my boss called and asked if I could come in. Maria had offered to watch my son for me, for free, so I wouldn’t have to worry about finding a last minute babysitter, i could just bring him to her there, as she was getting off. She had children of her own and knew the difficulties of child care. I was amazed at her selflessness. Having just finished her shift, was no doubt tired, yet went home to care for my son, for free no less, along with her own. Because of her act of kindness, we went on to forge a great friendship. And we decided since we didn’t work the same shift anyway, that we would each watch each others kids while the other worked, saving each other money and child care worry. The impact she made on me was great. I decided then that since I was helped, I should also do the same for others. Because of this I have never accepted money for babysitting, rather I have tried to help others as Maria helped me.
Pastor T. was a man from the Dominican Republic. Coming to the states as a young man, his life took a turn for the worse. He killed a man, and ended up doing time. But during his time in prison, he found God. Now, many people find God in prison, but this man found him and did not forget him. Having paid his debt with incarceration he went on to take what he had learned and try to make a difference in the lives of any and everyone that he could. He became a Pastor and shared his testimony with many. He was a guest speaker at the camp i attended as a child and i was privileged to hear his testimony. What he said really helped me to see that people, even though they have done terrible things, are still people, and they can still have an importance and a place in the world. Not everyone changes but we should try to help them also, give them the chance to change, because we don’t know what influence they could have in the future; and what good they have the potential to do. Pastor T. showed me people can rise above the circumstances they find themselves in.
Mr. F. was a black man who was the manager at a place I worked. Mr. F. was retired military, born and raised in our town, a deacon at his church, and well loved by the community. His respect is testified to by the sheer amount of people who would stop by our work every day to say hello to him, or stop and have a conversation with him, or come to him for advice. Now, Mr. F. gave me a job when I was most in need, and at a time when jobs weren’t the easiest to find. He helped me in so many ways, but not only me. I saw this man give money from his own pocket, to anyone who was in need. If you didn’t have gas, he would make sure you got enough to get where you were going. If you didn’t have a car to get somewhere, he would make sure you got a ride. He sent me to pick people up often (paid and on the clock), and when i had car trouble he sent people to pick me up. If you lost your home, he would rent you one of his rentals at a price you could afford. Kids got free candy every time they came in. If you needed a few extra dollars he would pay you from his own pocket to help out around the store for a few hours. He would make loans with no interest to anyone he knew. He would buy medicine for anyone who couldn’t afford it. There is not much Mr. F. did not do. Granted he was able to do these things, but he by no means had to do them. He helped everyone he could and he did not care who you were, or where you came from, or what kind of person you were. Everyone loved and respected him and he made a difference in so many lives, my own included. He had the true spirit of love and my life will never be the same because I knew him.
These are just some of the many people who I have known who are different than me, inspired me, and helped to shape who I have become. Without their positive influences my life would be different, and I shudder to think of who I would have been without them. They are my beacons of light in a dark world. I would love to read about other people’s positive life experiences regarding how people from different races and nationalities have influenced and inspired them.