A reply to: A letter from Mr. Watergate
I’m so happy to get your letter and so sad to hear the news about your mom. I’ll try to stay positive so that my thoughts and feelings can boost yours, which seem to be hopeful.
It’s a challenge for me. I lost my own mom and aunt to cancer nearly a decade ago. Both passed within a few years of each other. It still hurts.
I looked up Joyce Brown’s story. What an inspiring woman! I think it’s wonderful that you’re going to help your mom meet her.
I’m also happy that learning about your mom’s condition has inspired you to encourage your father to become a part of Milagros’s life. You see? Right there, that’s something positive coming out of this situation.
I’ll keep thinking good thoughts and sending them your way.
Your letter has really inspired me, Chance.
I love what you say about bad things happening as a means of “getting people to stand up instead of sitting down.”
I suppose if that happens, then maybe the events aren’t necessarily bad! Or at least, they’re not all bad. They’re events that happen: how we respond can determine, in part, if they’re events that bring about goodness or events that defeat us.
I don’t want to be defeated by the cruel acts that others do or by those random events that cause ripples in life.
Instead, I want to stand up and make a change!
So, that’s what I’m going to do.
Right now, I’m thinking about two different ways I might be able to, maybe, make a difference or at least a contribution.
Yesterday, I received a visit from one of the women who works for the refugee services group that brought Jena over here. She was doing a check-up to see what questions I might have or what assistance we might need.
As we were talking, she began describing the work they do.
“Why, last year alone,” she told me, “we brought in 346 refugees from Syria.”
That was in addition to Pakistani refugees, like Jena and others from her camp, and from people who came from all over the world.
“Where do they live? How do they get work? How do they get settled?” I asked.
“That’s where we come in,” she said. Their organization gets them places to stay and helps find them jobs. The people who volunteer and work for Windenburg Rescue also help with language-learning, filling out paperwork, navigating the bureaucracies, and learning the culture.
“We can always use more volunteers!” she told me.
So, that’s one thing I’m thinking.
Then, I’m also thinking about maybe possibly helping out at a transitional shelter for women and children.
You see, my friend, who’s now my brother’s best friend and new room-mate, used to live at House for Hope here in Windenburg.
It’s a place for women and their children who need to escape domestic abuse.
My friend dropped by for a visit the other day, and she was so full of enthusiasm.
“Your brother’s given me a chance!” she said.
She went on to tell me about some of the other women living at the shelter.
“It’s mostly believing in themselves that they need,” she said. “You have no idea how emotional abuse erodes self-confidence. Year after year. It’s insidious. And I’m not even talking about domestic violence.”
My friend noticed one of my easels in the kitchen.
“I’ve always wanted to paint,” she said.
“Have at it!” I encouraged her.
I showed her where the canvases and acrylics were stored, and she got to work. I watched her paint, offering encouragement and answering her questions when she asked, and it was amazing to see her joy grow as she completed her painting.
“You’re an amazing art teacher,” she told me. “The women and kids at House for Hope could really use someone like you.”
So, Chance, here I am, thinking of two ways that I can help others, ways that I can stand up and make a difference.
I know I’ve made a difference in Jena’s life–and she’s made a difference in my life. And now I want to take our good fortune and pass it forward. I’m only going to choose one volunteer position to start with because I want to be sure to have enough time and energy for Jena, my own painting, and my work as a folklorist. But I will be choosing one in the coming days.
And then, I’ll be out there, trying to make a difference. But I know already that the real difference will be the changes that happen in me. Doing things we call “good” is funny that way: It always helps us most of all!
Chance, next time you hug your mom, give her an extra squeeze from me.
Sending you and yours all good thoughts!
Your pen pal and friend,