RETURNING TO ELMHURST
I was most surprised when I got an invitation from Mr. Don Goss, to speak to his class during “Careers Week.” It has been almost half a century since I sat in his class, and I thought—what a teacher! He has followed his students’ progress through almost half a century. Although I have driven by Elmhurst many times, this is the first time I have entered its hallowed halls. Waynedale News editor Bob Stark met me there to take some photos for the article I am writing.
I spoke of a nursing career, of course. In thinking what I wanted to say to these kids, I let my mind drift back over my career, dividing it into sections. Would they want to know about my pediatric stint, the artificial heart program, EMS, ER, or IV therapy? I laughed to myself, asking myself what I would want to hear about if I were a student. IV therapy would be at the bottom of the list. But to hear horror stories from the night shift in the worst part of town where the shootings and fights and stabbings go down, well, of course that’s what I would want to hear. And those are the stories I told them. Street life. I found that during the time I talked to them and had them actively participate in parts of life-saving procedures, I developed such a respect for them. What beautiful, promising, potential was in that room. It never occurred to me that I would feel such heartfelt affection for them, or that I would be thinking of them and wondering about their futures long after I left the building.
If I could communicate with them today, in afterthought, I’d like to tell (I won’t use names) the girl in the restroom who didn’t want to take part in a Heimlich demonstration, that she will someday be successful beyond her now inhibited dreams. I saw in her the attributes of kindness, compassion, and love. She will do well. The kid I kept calling “cornrows” will accomplish more than he ever could believe about himself, and not just on the gridiron. I can see him as a doctor of great influence, or a scientist at NASA. I want him to know that muscle and athletic ability can fade but developing his intellect will serve him all the days of his life. What a beautiful promising kid. The gifted student will be a success, but he already knows that. He must remember to be humble and to accept others who are less gifted. The class clown, whom Mr. Goss asked to hold his questions or comments to the end, will be a shining light all of his life. Those who are in his brightness will be indeed fortunate. The sweetheart who asked me for my grandson’s name will be warm in my heart forever. She is one who will always seek to make life better through her compassion and understanding. The lovely girl who asked me to make sure she had my email correct is one of much insight. She will be liked by many, and has the opportunity to be everything she wants to be. The kid I teased in the blue shirt was a guy all the girls must want to take home to meet their mama. What a good kid.
Memories. I have a whole lot of memories and hopes for the future of these precious kids. These kids are going to be thrust out into the world to fend for themselves. I wish I could tell them that life is going to be easy. But my overall feeling is that these kids will be able to face the challenges and pitfalls ahead. And there will be many. I hope my darling who only thinks of pro-football will hit the books and prepare for his future when his body is not as young and strong as it is now. He has no idea, yet, what a success he can be. I believe in him.
I ate lunch with Mr. Goss before returning for another period of time to talk to the kids about what to do in a variety of emergencies. These kids are smart and they are quick. I was absolutely blown away when I asked the kids if any of them knew what a Transgendered kid was. I would have bet my bottom dollar that none of them would know. Many hands went up and one beautiful girl explained it pretty closely. I would only change one thing…and that is…it is not that they are born one sex and want to be the other. There is no “want” about it. Early in gestation they are “assigned” a sex and sometimes it doesn’t match their bodies. I forgot to ask them when they “chose” to be a boy (or girl). That question pretty much clarifies the concept. The answer, of course is…”I didn’t decide. I am just the way I was born.” It is the same for gay, transgendered or bisexual kids. They are just the way they are born. They don’t get to choose, either. I was impressed with their attention given to me, and want them to know I appreciate very much that they listened, and will carry forward with them what they have learned.
It was not a day I anticipated but I am very grateful to Mr. Goss for thinking of me and feeling that I might have something to share. To the kids: I am so impressed with you all and I regret that I may not see you again. Remember my email and you are free to email me at any time, in confidence, and I will help you. (If you misplace my email, call The Waynedale News).
Kids, to you, it seems like you have all the time in the world. But in reality, you have whatever time is given to you. Use your time well. Accept people who are different from you. Learn at every opportunity. I loved spending time with you. I’m sending you all hugs. I’m here for you.
I’ll always remember you,
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