Here we are, another New Year. The New Year always brings with it the need to plan for the coming year, but this one also brings the realization that time goes so quickly and things happen every day, things we don’t expect but are forced to deal with and which make us think and reflect.
On New Year’s Eve, I went to the cemetery to visit Teddi, and when I got there, a woman was sitting close to Teddi’s grave, at a new gravesite, obviously very sad and troubled. I couldn’t help but notice her and had to go talk to her. When I asked who she was visiting, she said her daughter, who had died from an overdose. I gave her my condolences and shared that I was also there to visit my daughter. I only spent a few minutes with her, as she needed her time with her daughter and I needed mine, but when I went to leave, she was gone. She never made a sound, but I can only hope that I helped her in some small way and that a small act of kindness helped to make her day just a little bit more bearable.
One never knows the impact that we might have on someone else’s life and we may never realize, until much later, the impact that someone else has on our life. I recently saw in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that Mrs. Letha Ridley had passed away, at the age of 104. All of a sudden I was taken back many years ago when I was just starting out on my career. I was substitute teaching in the Rochester City School District and I was looking for a way in which to get more hours and more money and I learned of a few schools that needed subs and one of those was School #20, where Mrs. Ridley, a true pioneer, was the Principal. I was fortunate enough to be able to sub in that school and I learned so much from her. Looking back, those were such difficult times in the Rochester area, as it was the late 60’s and early 70’s. She was a very tiny, African-American woman but she was strong and tall in her commitment to the children and their education. She was in a very unique position, as that school was in the heart of the city, but inside those walls, she said the most important thing for the teachers was to set high expectations and educate their students and to then help the children reach those expectations. If the teachers strived for those goals, she would always have their back, no matter what. I was able to spend a lot of time with Mrs. Ridley, asking her questions and learning from her, which helped me to become the person I am.
As life goes, I moved on in my life and career and we lost touch, but when I saw the article about her passing, I went back through my archives and found the reference letter she wrote for me; one that I have saved all these years because it meant so much to me. She truly helped to shape the person I am today, and helped to create the person who is so devoted and committed to making a difference in the lives of our youth, and especially those who are facing some of life’s most difficult battles, through no fault of their own.
Here we are, Camp Good Days is in its 37th year and going strong because of the continual support of so many and although we fight every day to find the answers to cancer, we still recognize and are dedicated to fulfilling the need for so many dealing with this horrible disease.As we all take some time to reflect, I resolve this year to not rush and to appreciate each and every single day; to take the time to always practice kindness and gratitude, for those I know and those I don’t know…because you never know how you might impact someone’s life.