Sunday, December 16, 2007

A quiet angel who speaks volumes

I must talk about Adrienne today. Adrienne was one of my students. She graduated in 1992, and she married another SHS grad, Vern. They both work for Dr. Forrest Bird out there at Glengary.

I taught Vern too. He was the photo editor for the Cedar Post his senior year. When he was a sophomore and we talked in English class about ways to organize paragraphs, including such methods as "reasons, factual, chronological and spatial," Vern latched on to that last one. From that point on, he jokingly referred to a lot of stuff as very "spatial."

If I remember correctly, Adrienne worked closely with my sister Barbara as editor of the Monticola yearbook. In my class as a sophomore Adrienne was pretty quiet and reflective. She also demonstrated her artistry and thoughtfulness one day, bringing me a sample of her fancy English-style printing, which showcased Edward Bulwer-Lytton's, "Beneath the rule of men entirely great, the pen is mightier than the sword."

I was touched. The gift from Adrienne graced my classroom walls from that day forth. I even kept it near my computer after retiring. It's now tucked away in one of our moving boxes. Some day when I figure out which one, I'll tack it to the wall behind me where photos of family and friends, the 2007 Union Pacific calendar and other posters continue to grow in number.

I've been reminded by Adrienne's artistic contribution to me that day several times since, not only in my own work but in that of others, how powerful that statement continues to be. Through words, and deeds to go along with them, we build or destroy nations, friendship, ideas, families, and people.

In this morning's paper, another friend of mine used her pen rather than a sword to illustrate a sad truth about greed. Ironically, the greed she witnessed dealt with a wonderful deed inspired by Adrienne and carried out by her children.

Adrienne is trying to teach her children the spirit of giving. So, with her guidance, the family spear-headed a gift giveaway, which involved the children and others going through their own toys and possessions and making them available on a certain day for their needy counterparts.

Apparently, when the giveaway event occurred, not all collectors of the Nelson family, et. al.'s generosity could be classified as "needy." This morning's letter writer pointed to the takers' ability to wear designer clothing, drive a better car than her own and buy cigarettes.

Observing these people abuse the situation obviously incensed the letter writer so she used her pen to send a message. In so doing, she not only honored Adrienne and her family's community gesture but also exposed a sad situation at an otherwise phenomenal act of pure charity.

I'm sure that the letter writer, like most folks, would loved to have gotten in the face of those folks and maybe even thumped them a time or two. Instead, she used her pen.

Maybe next time these people will realize that with most of our public behavior, whether good or bad, others are watching. Maybe they'll think twice about showing up for the hand-outs; maybe they won't. After all, we do learn eventually in this life that the world is made up of givers and takers, and usually both factions are pretty polished and devoted to what they do.

I use Adrienne's example this morning, not only because her message to me so many years ago continues to be carried out every day without someone having to die a bloody death for their misdeeds. I also believe that the message of her good deeds with her children is about as powerful as any sword ever could be.

I admired Adrienne way back when. Today, more than 15 years later, I once again thank her for the powerful message she left with me through her artistic talent. And, I laud her for the power she wields as a thoughtful and caring mother. Finally, I think that her hubby Vern would agree with me that Adrienne is a very "spatial" lady in our community.

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