I think everyone dreads certain types of phone calls that bring the news that we don’t want. Many years ago when my niece was in UVA, my sister received such a call. Her daughter was in critical condition after a motor vehicle accident. As teen, my uncle called on Christmas morning, except it wasn’t the normal cheery Christmas call. It was to inform us that his son had died through the night.
Sometimes we expect the news of a death or some other tragedy. Maybe not at that moment, but the news isn’t really a shock. But many times throughout life, we are called with unwanted news. Some send us instantly into tears and some tie our stomach into knots for hours or days as we await an outcome.
My cell phone rang late yesterday evening and it was an unrecognized number, but I answered. A woman with an unknown voice asked for me.
“This is Lisa’s mother. I thought you wanted to know…”
My friend, and a fellow author, is in our area’s big, level one, trauma hospital in intensive care after being hit by a car that was being pursued by police. She was to meet me and several others the other night, but she never showed up. I had talked to her earlier in the day. I texted her several times. I called her and that call went straight to her voice mail. I texted her yesterday – no return text. Seriously, she can be terrible about answering texts!
Her mother obtained her phone and began to go through the contacts until she found my name. Fortunately her mom and dad know who I am. I’ve been in their home multiple times. I know my friend’s granddaughter and my friend’s sister. I’ve met my friend’s aunt. Yes, Lisa and I are close.
While I was talking to her mom, I asked if she had another name in contacts. She found it and gave me that number. I would call that friend. I told Lisa’s mom that covered it. All friends would be contacted.
Now I’m sitting here and wondering about Lisa’s two teacup poodles, but I know her daughter will take care of them. I’ll offer to bring them here if needed. They don’t really know my little dog, but they know her smell and she knows theirs. Mine gets along with any animal with four legs.
There’s more that keeps going through my mind, questions that have no answers. I’ll check with her mom later because the summer semester has begun. Lisa went back to college. She has a judicial doctorate but returned for a master’s degree, and is fulfilling the required classes so that she can teach clear to college level. But what Lisa really wants is to teach at-risk children.
Schools are so busy teaching to a set of standards that they no longer have time or room for creative thinking. So children, especially those who need it the most, are not learning to express themselves. They can’t even journal because they have no idea how. They can’t write stories or poetry, or even create verses for songs. They can’t string a handful of words together.
Lisa’s dream is to create a place where children can come and learn because they want to be there. Lisa has sat in several of my writing classes that I’ve taught locally, and she wants me to teach, too. Not all the time, because I don’t have enough time for that, but I promised I would help serious students create the stories in their heads.
There are times we brainstorm plots and times we brainstorm how to introduce children to the world of writing. How do we tell them to hold onto their imaginations? And how do we tell them how important it is to be able to express themselves on paper?
I know how characters form in my mind and Lisa knows how they form in hers. We never turned off those daydreams. Those daydreams gave us those awful check marks on our report cards when we were in school. Every report card, contained the dreaded words daydreamer or doesn’t pay attention.
Let me take this opportunity to apologize to my teachers. I was only half paying attention. I got it the first time you told us, if it was interesting. But what was going on inside my head was training me for my career. I might write myself into a corner, but writer’s block… I can’t imagine that ever happening. There are too many things going on in there! But there I was as a child failing to conform to a set a rules. Rules that said there were no fairies and no imaginary playmates. Dogs didn’t talk, creatures didn’t roam in space, knights weren’t jousting in the play yard, stones couldn’t glow, and there were no magic wands, but they were there in my head! Why should I make them go away? I wanted to sprinkle stardust like Peter Pan.
And at that time there were other rules. Ones that said that good girls grew up, married, and had families. Girls weren’t allowed to strive to be astronauts – for even imagining such a thing was ridiculous. Boys were doctors and girls were nurses. But that’s another subject.
The difference is Lisa’s parents recognized her potential and encouraged her to follow her own path. They made certain that she could read and write at a time when her peers were still being repressed. They made certain that she could string words together and that college was the key to her future. She is a lawyer, she deals with insurance and understands the nuances of it. She handles the office of her father’s dental practice.
Lisa adopted a child when she was still in college – not an ordinary child but an older child with major problems. And that child had a child at an early age. That grandchild is now with Lisa’s parents. The adopted child, today, is doing well and has her life turned around. Lisa knows both ends of the spectrum, and no one would say that she’s lived a charmed life. But her life has been blessed with a wonderful family and good friends. But maybe more importantly, Lisa has has given of herself to so many people.
Lisa didn’t ask for a criminal running from the local police to broadside her car. She was merely coming home from a class at ODU – a class that would give her the necessary credentials to teach those who needed to learn to write. From what’s been said, Lisa’s situation is very serious. All prayers, good vibes, and positive thoughts for Lisa’s recovery are appreciated. Just send them to the SE corner of the Virginia.
UPDATE: Lisa is doing well and there is already talk of sending her home in a few days. Yippee!