Positive Influences of Our Lives
The Spirit of Humanity
There have been many positive influences by some very good people in my life. Mr. Wright was one of those. He owned a grocery store and when I was fifteen years old and needed a job, he hired me. There wasn't that much work there in his little store, I was responsible for helping stock mostly empty shelves and helped to sack up food bought at the register, and he would sometimes busy me with putting in frozen foods and helping to fill the refrigeration room with vegetables. I was given the privilege to get go to Atlanta, to the farmer's market and help load the vegetable bins. There were sometimes a few minutes in the store when he found work for me to do, just to help me pass the long hours in a weekend. Most days, I was there after school for about three hours a day and worked eight hours on the weekend. My meager paycheck was somewhat helpful in buying a few needed clothes or helping out with my parents purchase of needed food.
One of the greatest benefits that I received from the two years that I worked for Mr.Wright was the fact that I learned the importance of work, and that in order to improve oneself, you had to strive to go higher in your life. That I did, and after completing high school, I attended junior college and went on to other colleges and completed work on four college degrees. I worked at a few other part time jobs over the years, but the most meaningful to me was the time that I spent at Mr. Wright's grocery store. He took a special interest in me and helped to inspire me in going further in my life. He was a father and had a big family and several other kids. These children all turned out to be good people and made him proud of them. I will always be indebted to Mr. Wright in his patience and wonderful inspiration and guidance. It was a time in my life when I needed this because I had endured a bad operation after a football injury, that had devastated me and my self confidence. I had made a slow recovery, and after awhile I was able to get back on my feet. It was at a time in my life that I needed a positive supporting mentor, and Mr.Wright fulfilled that role in many ways.
I has played on the football team with one oh Mr. Wrights's sons and knew him to be a good person and tough competitor. Mr.Wright was a fine father and a well appreciated member of the community. Most people in our small town came by his store to shop for groceries. Mr. Wright knew that I had planned to go to art school at first, and he made efforts to let me practice in his sign making. I was given the task of crating many of his signs that were placed in the windows of his store. I tried to be creative as possible and he was very supportive of my efforts.
Mr.Wright had many folks in our home town that payed him by the week or month. It was an open account that they had, and often times some failed to pay on time or even at all. Mr. Wright had a kind heart and soul, and many times, he did not press the debtors because he knew of their hardships or problems and there was not a better human being on the face of the earth than him. At Christmas, he gave me the pleasurable task of loading baskets with fruit and grocery items garnished with ribbon, and then, I got to make delivery of the baskets to needy people in the community. It was a rewarding and most enjoyable experience, and he was delighted to see me take such care in he job that I had done. When I saw how those in need responded to the gifts from Mr. Wright, this made me feel greater compassion for them and helped to point me in a positive direction, and the decision to help those in need in many new ways.
I chose the field of special education, and I was able to teach and help kids who struggled in meeting educational goals throughout school. My interaction with these children and helping them with counseling, attention to their problems directed to others by me, and giving of myself, has helped shape me in the way that I was meant to be. It gave me feelings of self worth that have been what I have most needed in my life. I was satisfied with my own choice in life and the wonderful benefits that I received in it. They were a blessing and brought out the best in the human spirit and In my experience, this is the most meaningful part of life itself.
Years later, after I graduated from college, Mr. Wright moved from his old home in which he had raised his family , and he and his wife found a new house. My parents saw his house was for sale and opted to buy it. My first weekend from college and graduation, I drove to the new house that my parents had just bought. I was surprised that my old employer had sold them his home. On inspecting the garage, I found where one of his kids had written a message on its wall years ago. It said that he was a small boy and a good boy. I felt the compassion and sincerity in those words, and it was a reflection of Mr. Wright's upbringing of his kids.
The beauty and real joy in life for me, has been in giving of myself, for others. It is truly a gift to be able to do this. No matter what stature a person may possess, whether they are great or small, to see the look of genuine happiness on the face of a person that has been helped, has a great and long lasting effect, on the giver. It can be life changing, and it has been for me. I will always remember with great fondness, Mr.Wright, and his wonderful character, and his little grocery store on the corner, in our small town. For it was there, that I was given the seeds to grow, from a small tree, to have the strength of a mighty oak, and of what a meaningful life can be all about.