A Grace Remembered: A True, Coming of Age Story
My eyes were getting heavy. I loved English when it came to learning to write and read literature, but grammar confused and bored me to tears. I heard the door slam and awoke with a jerk. A pretty honor student gave the pink slip to Mr.Yates, my seventh grade English teacher, and left the room. I wished I could be special like she was.
"Lori," he said, waving the pink slip without looking up at me.
Bewildered I asked, "Do you mean me?"
"There are no other Lori's in this room are there?" he said, looking at me over the glasses that rested much too low on his nose. "Hurry now."
I walked up to the front of the classroom and took the pink slip that was being waved impatiently at me. The message told me to report to the counselor's office. My heart flip flopped wondering what I could have done to be called to the counselor's office. Didn't people go there when they were in trouble? I don't know why I thought that. It was only my second week of junior high school; what did I know yet about pink slips and school counselors?
With fear and trepidation I made my way across the second floor corridor to the stairwell. My feet labored down the stairway as if my shoes were filled with wet sand, in no hurry to find out my transgression. So far I'd barely spoken to anyone those first two weeks, and I hadn't gotten any bad grades yet, what could be the problem? I entered the glass partitioned offices of the Wilson Jr. High School guidance counselors. My eyes and feet found her door. The placard said Mrs. Minasian Seventh Grade Counselor. Through the door window I saw her shuffling through papers the way people do when they are waiting for someone to arrive. I tapped and her beautiful face looked up and smiled at me, and she waved me in. It was far different than the wave I got from Mr. Yates.
"I'm Grace Minsaisan, it's good to meet you Lori." She shook my hand firmly. It was cool and reassuring to my searing anxiety. Her bright, engaging eyes were filled with interest, curiosity, and warmth. 'Finally, a welcoming presence in this big scary new school,' I thought.
"Have a seat," she said, indicating the chair next to her desk.
So far I hadn't said a word, my usual M.O. in those days. But my stomach was relaxed and I knew this would be pleasant. I drank in her delightful smile, framed in a lovely shade of red lipstick. Her rich, dark hair was nicely coiffed, just like Mom's; not of the stiff, formal, Aquanet variety, but natural, not overdone.
"I called you down here because I wanted to meet you and get to know you. I call every student down at the beginning of the year so I can introduce myself, and learn about each one of you. I want my students to know I am always here for them. I want you all to know I'm not the boogie man," she said playfully. I nodded politely, still not knowing what to say.
Mrs. Minasian spent the next twenty minutes asking me questions about myself, trying to draw me out. It didn't take too terribly long to get me to open up, something I did not do very often in new situations. I was the only person in the world that was important to her in that magical twenty minutes. It would continue to be that way whenever I saw her.
"I want you come and see me whenever you want, okay? If you need anything, let me know. I'm not just your counselor, I am your friend."
I released the smile that had been welling up from the deep, vulnerable, cubby in my heart, the one right below my stoic, "don't talk" compartment. I do believe it was the first smile of my seventh grade school year.
A Word of encouragement from a teacher to a child can change a life."— John Maxwell
Like many junior high-ers, I felt like a misfit in the sea of hundreds of cool, perfect kids that filled the hallways, classrooms and campus of my junior high school. But somehow, it seemed worse for me. It didn't take long that seventh grade year before a melancholy began to seep into my life.
My family had made two major moves in the last two years. The first was from Washington state (my home for my first eleven years) to San Gabriel, California, then a year later from San Gabriel to Sierra Madre, a very small town nestled at the base of the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains. The culture shock of moving to a new state with the majority of the San Gabriel kids being hispanic and speaking spanish was quite startling. My sisters and I were the minority in the elementary school we entered that year of 1967. It was monumentally stressful enough just being in a new state, new home, and new school, but the culture shock intensified the anxiety of my sisters and I. I was utterly terrified for the first few months. I made a few friends, but spent most of the year feeling scared and alone. We lived in an apartment, a foreign concept for us. There were few apartments where we came from in Washington. I soon found apartment living had it's bonuses, like a pool and a large bedroom for my older sister and I, plus lots of babysitting jobs for the young families there.
I remember some boys our age directly across the breezeway from our apartment. At night, when we were all supposed to be sleeping, we would open our bedroom windows and chat across the narrow, outdoor passageway. One night we heard their parents come in and spank them. We heard them crying, then all was silent. That was the end of our midnight conversations.
The oldest of the two boys, Jim, had a crush on another girl in the apartment complex that my sister and I played with. Lisa must have been more evenly proportioned and definitely prettier than I, because he would flirt and and do tricks on his bike and skateboard for her, but when he saw me coming he would always say, "Oh, here comes flabby fanny, flabby fanny, flabby fanny." The humiliation I felt served to confirm in my mind that I was fat and ugly. The truth was, I was normal in height and weight; in fact, smaller than the playmate who we all thought so much prettier. Perhaps my behind was growing a little faster than my chest. The damage this boy did to my sense of self worth was huge.
At the end of the school year we moved to Sierra Madre. It was a quaint little town with a short main street full of businesses. There were a lot of hippies up in the foothills nearby and so they were a constant presence in the pool hall and the town park. I was both afraid and intrigued by hippies.
We rented a small, charming, two-story, white house with three tiny bedrooms. I loved it. We had a giant avocado tree that filled the entire front yard; but I found out right way I hated avocados. The driveway ended at an even smaller, one-story house behind us. They had five children. One of them, Susan, was my age. My sister Chris, who was only a year older than Susan and I hung out with Susan all the time. She and Chris were closer because I was insecure and they were both confident, pretty, and liked boys. Susan was more inclined to venture out into new territories of experimentation, and in some things we followed suit like little sheep. It started out with smoking, which I hated because it always made me throw up when the cigs were menthol. It then went on to sneaking out at night and smoking at the park. Foul language slowly seeped into our vocabulary as it was for the youth culture at that time. One time we shoplifted. We heard a siren, and in terror my sister and I ditched the cheap five and dime necklaces in the bushes and never did it again. SusanSusa another friend we all shared still did it from time to time.
Susan was attractive and was very comfortable around the boys and they sure liked her. She had a boyfriend most of the time and was "experimenting." My sister had a boyfriend at one point, but it was all very innocent. Soon, Susan discovered drugs. Barbiturates were the thing that year at school - they called them "reds." There were other drugs as well, but Susan occasionally "dropped reds." Drugs terrified me and I wanted no part of it. My sister was not interested either.
With all the stress of the moves and adapting to a new culture, new schools, peer pressure, my already existing insecurities, a cloud of gloom began to descend on me, accompanied by anxiety, which I called being jittery. I began to show up at Mrs. Minasian's office fairly regularly to talk about my problems. Sometimes, just to shoot the breeze and have some laughs. Often times she would call me down to her office just to see how I was doing. I could tell her anything and she always encouraged me. When I would say I was ugly or something similar, she would say "Lori, you are a very handsome young woman." This is one thing she said that made me a bit mad. "Handsome" was for boys. To me she was saying, "You're not exactly pretty, but you are handsome." She finally explained it was a compliment and I came around.
Mrs. Minasian was my oasis, my refuge, my savior, if you will. I needed her more the next two years than either of us realized.
The "sensitive" child
"I don't think my mom and dad love me," I confided one day to Mrs. Minasian.
"Why do you say that, Lori?"
"They don't pay attention to me and they love my sisters more than me."
This became a recurring topic in my times with Mrs. Minasian. She listened carefully, and probed to find out the root of this mindset I had. She recognized the depression and anxiety worsening and our times together became more and more frequent. She tried very hard to convince me that my parents loved me because she saw no real evidence to the contrary.
The real issue was not that they didn't love me, but that they looked at and treated me differently than my sisters. I had my label, you see - the "sensitive child." One evening, a year earlier, my parents sat me down at the kitchen table and dropped a bombshell.
"We want to tell you some news," said Mom.
"What news?" I asked. It had to be bad for them to sit me down without my sisters and give me "news."
"Well, your mother and I have decided to move us down to California," said Dad. "I am taking a better job there."
"Oh. When did you decide this?"
"About three months ago."
"Three months ago? How come you waited so long to tell us?"
"Your sisters already know about it," said Mom.
"What? Why did you tell them right away and not me?"
"Because we knew you'd be upset," said Dad.
"Dad and I understand how sensitive you are and we didn't want you to spend too much time worrying about it. We love you and didn't want you to worry."
"Worry? Why would I worry about going to California? It sounds like fun. I don't understand why you couldn't have told me when you told Chris and Jamey."
I felt betrayed and demeaned, although their intentions were out of love. I felt less-than when they labeled me the "sensitive" child. Right then I knew they felt differently about my sisters than me. They were emotionally strong and happy, and I was weak and to be pitied. I was unable to see the loving intentions and took great offense.
After that, Dad would ask us at dinner "So girls, tell Mom and I why you think you'll like California."
As the oldest, Chris answered first. "Because they have cute boys, it's always sunny, and they have movie stars." Jamey and I answered the same way. Jamey was so small she didn't really know what California was, so she copied her big sisters. For me, answering the same way as Chris was an assurance (in my mind) that I was equal to her in value. All questions in life to me had either a right or wrong answer. If I was asked what I liked or what I thought about something, I would become anxious because I might give the wrong answer. Because Chris was confident in herself, I considered her answer was always right, therefore Mom and Dad would approve if I gave the same one. I really don't know how I acquired this line of thinking, but it lasted for many years.
Moving day came and we were all excited. After the moving van was gone, we got up before dawn the next day to set out for our new home. It was the first time we ever saw our dad weep. He lived in our city all his life. All of his family were there except for his sister, who was waiting for us at her home in California. Pretty soon we were all silently weeping. Mom kept patting Dad's hand and handing him kleenex. Not long after the sun came up, the tears were gone and excitement returned, bigger than ever.
We had a wonderful trip to California and moving in was exciting too. It all went downhill once we started school, however, but I didn't really unravel until the next move a year later. We all hated San Gabriel and now that Dad was established in his new job, he wanted to rent a house.
When we moved to the white house in Sierra Madre, Mom went to work. It was strange coming home and Mom not always being there. She worked part time at a little ice cream and sandwich parlor on the main drag. I was proud of her and loved to go visit her with friends to show her off. Sometimes they let me wash dishes when they were shorthanded. I felt proud, important, and happy that Mom had confidence in me. But underlying all this was the stress of change. I'd never known a mom that worked before. Mom's stayed home and ironed and watched soap operas. A part of me felt lost when I came home and she was off working. There was no one to talk to about my day - just a list of chores. Change, change, change. Good or bad, it was gradually taking its toll.
Grandma from Washington came to visit that year. It was wonderful to see her again. One night I got up to use the bathroom and heard Mom, Dad and Grandma talking downstairs. Being nosey, I eavesdropped at the top of the stairway.
"Chris is the chatty one and more confident and outgoing," Grandma said.
"Yes, a little social butterfly," said Mom.
"But awfuly bossy," Dad added.
"That's what first born do," Grandma said.
"Jamey's the mischievous one," declared Mom.
There were shared stories about Jamey's adorable antics with her imaginary friend named Suzie when she was younger. Jamey was just so cute and she was the baby.
"Yes, and Lori's the quiet, one," Mom said. "She thinks too much and spends too much time alone."
"Yeah, but she can be so darn funny," said Dad.
A discussion ensued about my humor and goofiness, but soon the conversation focused on my sensitivity, fragile emotions, melancholy, and feeling down about myself. Hearing that I was kind, sweet, pretty, creative, and funny didn't register in that moment. I heard "pitiful weakling" - that's all.
From the time I entered school as a kindergartner, I would often tell Mom that some adult had commented to me that I looked sad, even though I wasn't aware that I was. To this she would always say, "Just tell them you're sober, not sad." People looked at me strangely when I said that. What first grader uses the word "sober," let alone in that context? I assumed looking sober was better than looking sad, though, since Mom offered it as an alternative.
What I heard that night from my parents and grandmother solidified my conviction that they, and the rest of the world, saw me as an emotional weakling, and very different from my sisters. I was needy and should be handled with kid gloves.
Denial was part of my DNA. I would be a bad person to hold a resentment toward my parents for the wrongs I felt they had done. So when I went to Mrs. Misnasian and told her Mom and Dad didn't love me, I didn't really have a good reason why. Thus a baffled Mrs. Minasian had a challenge on her hands.
As the months rolled by that year I made a few friends at school I was more comfortable with. Elizabeth was a witty, quirky, girl that Susan, Chris and I all liked. We called her Lizzy. Lizzy was like a breath of fresh air for me. She and I particularly grew close. She loved music as I did, and had all the latest records. Lizzy was wildly hilarious, unfettered from the need to prove or conform herself to the social expectations of junior high-dom. Lizzy loved being Lizzy. Lizzy loved life. Lizzy loved me, just as I was. Lizzy brought out the humorous side of me that few people outside of my family and few choice friends ever saw. How exhilarating to be able to throw myself down alongside her on the bed, giggling with abandon; to sing without care to the Beatles in silly voices; to say I didn't want to do something without the fear of rejection.
Lizzy and I ended up sharing some classes. Lizzy was not without influence on me. As well as being witty and quirky, she was quite the prankster. I found it so exciting, I decided to join right in. The second quarter we had home economics together - cooking. A new teacher was assigned and, oh boy, did we give her a run for her money. Mrs. LaComarri was a pure-bred Italian, replete with thick accent and fiery temper. Although a somewhat attractive woman, all we saw was her sharp, hookish nose, and sour disposition. She introduced herself in a rather stern voice, with a waving finger, and a scowl forever set in stone. She didn't like kids, not even the most well behaved. She was perpetually cheerless, and ruled with an iron fist. That first day she made bullet points of each class expectation and rule by sharply slapping the blackboard with the pointer stick. Lizzy sized her up immediately and saw a wide frontier of opportunity for delicious mischief.
"Let's pretend to be each other. You tell her you're Elizabeth, and I'll say I'm Lori."
'Oh, boy,' I thought, 'this should be fun.' The thrill of expectation was almost more than I could handle.
When Mrs. Lacomarri began to take attendance, the games began. A small spark of encouragement to be naughty burst into flame.
"Here," Lizzy said. "You mispronounced my name. It's Colbo."
Ignoring her, she went on.
"Here," I said.
For about a week, Mrs. Lacomarri was played like a fiddle by Elizabeth (aka Lori) and Lori (aka Elizabeth). Finally, someone ratted on us and we got sent to the vice principal. Of course Mrs. Minasian found out and was very distressed. I was called in to see her later that day.
"Lori, what's this about pulling a prank on Mrs. Lacomarri? That's not like you. Tell me what's going on, dear."
She didn't say this in a chastising way. It was firm, but there was deep concern in her face and voice.
I shrugged my shoulders, "I don't know. Just a little joke." I was somewhat ashamed, but there was a tiny spark of defiance in me. I enjoyed the pleasure...okay, exhilaration, of pulling a prank on a "mean" teacher. The little rebel feelings that were surfacing were downright intoxicating.
Mrs. Minasian called Lizzy in then, and we got a talking to. It was a loving talking to. She told us she thought we were nice, handsome (would she ever drop the "handsome?) girls, and she knew we could do great things. She knew she wouldn't hear anymore of these kinds of pranks. As always, she expressed her open door policy.
Lizzy and I behaved for a time, but we were not averse to getting under the skin of our Italian Nemesis from time to time. Sometimes it was mimicking her accent. She always pronounced "hamburger" as "AM-BORGER." Lizzy might say "Mrs. Lacomarri, I don't think I have enough AM -BORRRGERRR for the spaghetti." It really was a mean thing to do. The veins in Mrs. Lacomarri's neck bulged, as did her big, brown eyes. Her face went red with rage and her voice was shrill. She would point to the door after shrieking her displeasure and yell "OUT!" I was terrified of her when Lizzy was absent. If Lizzy had not been my cohort in crime, I probably would not have done half the things I did in that class. There is always more boldness and incentive when you have an accomplice.
We had to visit the vice principal and Mrs. Minasian a few more times. I think Elizabeth was enamored with Mrs. Minasian and eventually we behaved ourselves in home Ec, simply because we didn't want to disappoint her anymore, and we didn't relish any more groundings from our parents.
I found these shenanigans a stress reliever, and perhaps a vehicle for channeling my subconscious anger. To be quite honest, though, it was just so darn much fun. Lizzy's mischievousness was infectious.
Classes and teachers changed and I ended up in sewing with Mrs. McGuire. Mrs. McGuire was steady, kind, motherly, and loved kids and sewing. I would often stay after class, visit at lunchtime, or after school sometimes and talk with her. She was a good listener. She told me about her family and the struggles of some of her children. It was motherly love that came through, and in the quiet, hidden recesses of my mind, I dreamed what it would be like to have her as my mother.
Then there was poor Mr. Reynolds, my history teacher. He was an older man, rather burly, gentle and timid - a gentle giant - and easy prey for bullying students. I always felt so sorry for him. No matter how hard he tried, he could not tame the trouble makers. He was very fond of me because I was nice to him, I'm sure. I studied hard and showed interest in the subject. The strange thing is, I stayed after class a lot of times to chat with him and he would confide in me how frustrated he was. It was weird. After one particularly brutal day of class, I stayed after to chat, hoping to bring him some cheer. He said, "Lori, sometimes I get so mad I go home and kick the dog and then my wife is mad at me. I just can't win for losing." I saw a little shine of tears gathering in his eyes. I think it got really uncomfortable for me being in that kind of dynamic - being his confidant and caretaker at age twelve - and one day I decided to misbehave with the other kids. He was so terribly disappointed, and I was so ashamed I apologized and never did it again, but I didn't engage in after class discussion anymore either. The role reversal made me feel a responsibility to be his counselor and comforter that I was not emotionally equipped to do, nor should I have been. But also, I just couldn't bear any longer to see his heartbreak, and I had so much on my plate already.
I kept my feelings and relationship dynamics with Mrs. McGuire and Mr. Reynolds to myself. I did not even share them with Mrs. Minasian. I was to learn later that they shared with her their concerns about me.
I had a ninth grade teacher who told me I was much smarter and much better than I was allowing myself to be."— Scott Hamilton
Crash and Burn
Summer came and life was a little less stressful, not having to deal with school. But as we had more time and freedom, peer pressure was still ever present. Susan, Chris, and I had made a new friend, Carolyn, and our little "group" expanded. Lizzy was with us much of the time, but not always. Carolyn's parents were divorced, which made her unique, as we didn't have any friends with divorced parents as of yet. Her mother and older sisters were hippie types, and she wore that persona to some degree as well. Her mom worked, so she had a lot of freedom. She was cute, kept us laughing, and like Susan, she was into boys. That summer they both had boyfriends and were all experimenting with drugs and sex, and I was terrified. I wanted a boyfriend only so I could say I had one and be accepted as equally cool. We snuck out a lot to the park at night to smoke and hippies would wander over drunk or stoned. I was secretly relieved when my mom and dad found out and I wasn't able to do it anymore. I was torn between two worlds.
Fall came and eighth grade began. School was starting to become more enjoyable, but that year I became very ill. I came down with strep throat. Mom took me to the doctor but I continued to worsen. I don't remember if I was on antibiotics or not. I began vomiting and did so for what seemed like days. I vomited until nothing came up but a wee bit of bile. My pediatrician was out of town so I was seen by his associate. I was extremely weak and my parents were fraught with worry. This associate doctor told my mom to give me an enema. Yeah, I know, crazy, huh? My mom, being uninformed about what dehydration is and what causes it, blindly followed the doctor's instructions. Much to my horror, she asked Susan's mother to come over and help her give me an enema. Imagine my thirteen-year-old embarrassment in having to lie in the bathtub naked, with two clueless mothers trying to flush me out with a tube up my behind. Frankly, I was too weak to balk. There was nothing to flush out, as it turned out. The next day I was admitted to the hospital (big surprise) and I was so heavily medicated by the anti-vomiting drugs, I slept for the first three days. I remember only once or twice rousing enough to get a sip of water from my mother. Mom never left my side during visiting hours and it was agony for her to have to leave me to go home. After I was well, she told me dad sat on the porch and cried when she took me to the hospital, and he found it too painful to come to visit and see me so ill. Oddly, that didn't bother me. I was deeply touched that he wept for me. That was enough to know he cared.
I was home for another three weeks, bedridden most of that time. Susan's mother brought me meals while my mom was working. No matter how many times Mom told her I needed a bland diet, she continued to bring over delicious, heavy meals. My body took it in stride and I finally recovered and returned to school. Activities resumed, but the stress on my body from the illness and the emotional toll it took on me, coupled with the continued struggle of peer pressure and thinking I was a misfit, sent me crashing.
Sleep became fitful or non-existent. I lost my appetite and eating made me want to throw up. I wasn't nauseous, it was just that my stomach and throat were bound up with tension. I was overwhelmed with being, let alone with doing life. I fell back into thinking my parents didn't love me. I scratch my head at this now, but that's where I was. One night my parents became distraught at the dinner table when I told them I couldn't eat and I was exhausted from not sleeping. Grasping at straws they finally said, "Are you on drugs?" They didn't believe I was, but they were desperate at finding an answer. They were assured when I told them I wasn't. They were apologetic at having even asked.
One day at school I became profoundly despondent, and anxiety struck me with hurricane force. I couldn't think, I couldn't speak, and I didn't know why. Somehow I made my way to Mrs. Minasian's office. She took one look at me and said, "Lori, dear, what is it? Come sit down."
Stepping the few feet from the doorway to the chair, after having trudged downstairs and through the vast hallways to the office in my condition, was impossible. I just couldn't move one more inch. She guided me into the chair where I sat. I can't remember for sure if there were tears. I don't think so. Tears were very, very rare for me. My entire being was shut down. Mrs. Minsasian looked into my downcast face and asked me to tell her what was wrong. I tried to speak, but nothing came out. I tried to lift my eyes to hers, but I couldn't. Emotionally I was in the fetal position, paralyzed.
My wise and beloved friend, Mrs. Minasian, patted my hand, which lay trembling on the desk. "It's okay, dear. You don't need to talk. We'll just sit here until the bell rings, and if you need more time, that's how it will be." Her soft, nurturing hand never moved from the top of mine. I'm not sure I even blinked during those 50 minutes. The only thing moving in that room was her thumb massaging the top of my hand. By the time the bell rang, I was able to breathe and move. I couldn't talk, but I was ready to go. She was reluctant to let me go, but I nodded I was ready. I have no memory of the rest of that day, or when it all subsided to the point where I could function.
Back in those days, the average person had no idea what clinical depression was. There was no name for it to most people, nor even many doctors, except in the textbooks of psychologists and psychoanalysts. People who suffered from clinical depression were considered disturbed, emotional weaklings, and it was seen as unusual, even rare, and shameful. Child psychiatrists and psychologists were for severe cases and the stigma was horrific. It was something people whispered about at bridge parties, or at the water cooler at work, "Did you hear about Angela? Went off the deep end. Her poor husband and children. Must be so embarrassing." I don't know what Mrs. Minasian knew about the subject, but she was deeply concerned. Years later I learned from Mom that Mrs. Minasian had called my parents almost angry and told them "Your daughter is in deep trouble and you need to deal with it."
I survived. It was so long ago I don't remember how. But life went on.
None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody - a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony or a few nuns - bent down and helped us pick up our boots"— Thurgood Marshall
We moved at the end of that year to Anaheim and I started yet another school for ninth grade. Close school friends were sparse because I was so shy and withdrawn. Every lunchtime I bought my food, then walked around campus until the bell rang. But my new neighborhood was filled with girls in both my sister's and my age range. We became a gang of sorts, not as in street gang, just girlfriends hanging out. We did some typical, stupid, rebellious things that teens do - drinking, partying, smoking, foul talk, sneaking out, etc. With my inner circle of neighborhood friends, I was able to let my hair down, be funny, have lots of fun going to the beach, the mall, parties, etc. As a matter of fact, being funny and making my friends laugh became a way for me to feel accepted, at least some of the time. Sometimes it was a mask. My parents and sisters were funny too. Laughter is indeed strong medicine. But to be honest, much of the time I was full of fear. When it all became too much, I would spend hours, days in my room listening to music or reading. Sometimes I felt happiest and safest there. Other times, it was the same nebulous emotional storm I experienced that day in Mrs. Minsasians office, but not quite so severe.
My mom and I became very close once we moved to Anaheim, and I overcame that feeling of being unloved. I would say Mom became my best friend and remained so until her untimely death in 2002, at only sixty-six years of age. In the summer, Mom and I would stay up until the wee hours of the morning watching old World War ll era movies, my head in her lap, she stroking my hair. She was a best friend to all three of us girls. We all wore each other's clothes, shopped together, laughed, did all kinds of things. Yet, emotional storm clouds overtook me periodically and Mom would sit me down and say, "Honey, you seem so sad and withdrawn lately. Sometimes you seem upset. Is there something wrong? You can tell me anything. I want to help."
And I never had an answer to for her. I would sit and think and think and try to come up with an answer for her, but truth be told, I didn't know. So I'd shrug and say "I don't know." It broke her heart. The thing was, I could never connect the dots. I was always fearful in social situations; fearful of being wrong, being hurt, getting in trouble, of being me. But I couldn't intellectually recognize I was experiencing fear. I couldn't say to myself, "I am afraid. This terrifies me." I just felt it. If I couldn't recognize it for myself, I sure couldn't explain it to Mom.
Being as my storms were cyclical, the good times came around and we'd all convince ourselves it was just a passing thing. Had Mom not been there for me, regularly checking in on me, perhaps things would have turned out much worse.
I did marry and have children. It wasn't easy though, as the marriage was difficult. At age twenty-three I found Christ, or I should say, He found me. And He has carried me through the storms, and brought me much joy.
Decades later I had a diagnosis. I fought it, denied it, but finally was relieved to know it had a name and could be treated.
She was the epitome of what a good teacher, mentor, or counselor should be - a listener, an encourager, and a challenger whose motivation was love"— Lori Colbo
My Grace remembered
There have been many people God has placed in my almost six decades of life who have helped me and blessed me with the richness of their love and friendship. Some are still in my life today, some have passed away, and each year there are more who are added. And then there are those whom God sent just for a season, and used them to enrich and impact my life profoundly. I've had many, but for today, I choose to remember Grace Minasian, my stalwart anchor of love in the unimaginable storm that nearly sunk me to the bottom of the abyss. She was the epitome of what a good teacher, mentor, or counselor should be - a listener, an encourager, and a challenger whose motivation was love. I don't know if she is still on this earth. Very possibly. If I could see her, I would kiss that sweet hand that once held mine through that brutal storm. I would tell her thank you if I could speak through the tears of gratitude. My heart aches to tell her how much I love her and how much she still means to me this day. If I could be or ever have been a Grace Minasian to one person in this world, for one moment in time as she was to me, her legacy will live on. To me, she will always be a Grace remembered.
© 2015 Lori Colbo