As a child, my mother was married 3 times. I don’t remember much about my father, but my first step-father was an alcoholic who abused my mom whenever he was drinking, and my sister and brother as well. I tried to “lay low” so as not to incurr his wrath. When my mother escaped with us and moved across town, he searched every street and found our new home and terrorized us by racing up the street, burning rubber all the way, and cutting our phone lines and threatening us. We had to start over in a new school. The teacher, Mr. Reilly, was my 4th grade teacher in Olympia. He must have somehow sensed my painful homelife and dysfunctional family, and our situation. He was very kind and considerate and was really someone who cared about me. He took the time to show me that I mattered to someone. I think he saw me climb up to the top of the tree in the park and sit for hours rather than go home from school a few times, because one day in class I somehow earned an icecream at the parlor a block from school, and he offered to walk me there to collect my cone. He was very caring and encouraging that things would be better one day. His favorite song he played in our classroom was “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” and every time I’ve heard it since it reminds me of him taking just a few extra minutes to encourage me, lifting my spirits and hopes and dreams to know there was hopes and a future besides my present fear and anguish. It reminds me often to take the extra time to show someone that they really matter to someone. Even a small kindness can mean the world to someone and change their outlook on life, creating a memory to cherish forever and pay forward with kindness towards others in need. It taught me to sacrifice my own “me” time to help others even if it’s inconvenient timing!
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