Even in a dysfunctional family, sometimes, children are exposed to people who impact them in a positive way. The influence of this person grows with the child the same as the memories of neglect and abuse. A sign of affection or a word of encouragement can be the only positive reinforcement they receive.
My childhood was dark and dismal, but I had that positive reinforcement from several people; none greater than my Aunt Susie. She was my bright shining Star! When I was little she made sure I knew how special I was to her. She would come by my grandmother’s house often just to check on me. She stayed on me about having manners and respect for others. Aunt Susie often reminded me that manners will take you where money won’t.
Aunt Susie saw potential in me long before I saw a future for myself. She would say, “You only went to the seventh grade, but you could have been a lawyer”. At that young age, I didn’t know what she meant, but I understood that she thought I was special.
I spent every summer at Aunt Susie’s. She would cook before going to work and remind her children to take good care of me as she went out the door. I always smile when I remember those days.
Like most children, every now and then, I would tell Aunt Susie a little white lie. She never got mad or fussed when I did. She would look me in the eye and say, “There’s something wrong with what you just said”. Then I would start the story over again – with the truth. She would nod, smile and keep moving.
Although Aunt Susie is gone, I cherish those memories and the contribution she made to my life. Abandoned at an early age, it seemed my life would always be dark and dismal, but she encouraged me and spoke a successful future into my life. Today, I share these stories with her daughters.
It is so important that we remember the influence we have over young people. We should never miss an opportunity to encourage and support them, regardless of their family or environment. Yours may be the only encouragement they receive.
My oldest daughter was sent to Haiti two days after the earthquake. She and her husband are in the military. They have three little boys ages 2, 6 and 8. Life as an enlisted couple has become increasingly difficult for them.
She was in tears when she called me to break the news. Although sympathetic to the victims in Haiti, she was particularly upset about leaving her family to go into such a dangerous situation. She was concerned about her safety and her desire to return alive and well to her children. As I listened to my daughter, tears began to roll down my face because I sincerely felt her pain. I prayed a silent prayer, while we were both sobbing, and asked God to give me words of comfort for her. He answered my prayer and I was able to calm her down and turn the conversation around. Afterwards, she told me that she loved me and thanked me for being there. I was relieved. When we don’t know what to say, God will be put the right words in our mouth.
My daughter has been in Haiti for three weeks now and problems started as soon as she left. Her husband was immediately overwhelmed with the care and attention needed for three young boys. His regular schedule was impacted by the need to get the children from child care and school at different times every day. In addition, the kids started misbehaving in school; which was unusual for my grandsons. One day, the oldest child burst into tears because he could not understand why his mother had to go where so many people were dying. His Dad explained she was there to help them and she would be home again soon. But he continued to act up in school.
I called the children often to reassure them of their mother’s safety and return. I told them that they could help her by behaving in school and making good grades while she was gone. I promised them I would write and let her know how good they had been. The next day, the oldest son received a good report from his teacher. His mother called to let him know how proud she was of her boys and that she hoped to be home soon.
Fortunately for everyone this entire episode should end very soon. My daughter is expected to come home within the next two weeks and hopefully, Haiti will be a little better because of the sacrifice she made.
Filed under Haiti, Military