So many times we try and stress the importance of words and how to make sure we get our point across to our readers.
We look through dictionaries and thesauruses to find just the right word with just the right meaning to make our point valid and stand out. You all know how important it is to use these tools.
But, I'm not here to talk about that. Besides that could get a little boring. Instead I have a story to tell.
Senior year of high school, final week. The day my adolescence was ending and my young adulthood was beginning. I was receiving gifts just like all of my friends. Pretty cool, people I didn't even know where sending me things.
The last day of school, as I arrived home, there was a package waiting for me on the kitchen table. I was excited, it was from the "Cool Aunt" that I had. I called her this because she was a go getter, she always got what she wanted and didn't let anything stand in her way. I saw her as someone I could look up to.
I ripped open the package, I couldn't wait to see what she sent to me. The excitement kept building, she had wrapped the gift in some really cool blue paper. I smiled, she remembered my favorite color. There, lying among the torn shreds of blue paper, was a dictionary. I will admit I was disappointed. How could she send me such a lame gift, I had thought. I sat there scratching my head. Then I opened it, on the inside cover she inscribed "Carrie, Words are the key to your future. Aunt Pat"
I shrugged and set the dictionary aside, I was still a little disappointed in the gift. Then I thought about it. What the heck, I can use it when I go to college and have it for quick reference.
I admit that during elementary, I hated taking English, I hated having to sit down and figure out the proper way to put a sentence together. During Literature, I would attempt to hide--to avoid the teacher from calling on me. I hated reading in front of the class. When I read out loud I read with a stutter. A bad stutter. This caused other children in my class to pick on me. I couldn't stand it. My parents talked to the school I attended and found that there was a special reading class that might help me.
At first, I felt embarrassed, I had to go to a "special class." Just great. More cannon fire for the kids in my class. But when I walked into this room for the first time, I was shocked to see a number of kids from my own class sitting in there. Some of them actually picked on me about my stutter. My cheeks flushed as I went to the seat that the teacher was pointing to. I buried my face in my arms on the top of the desk and began to cry. But, it was more a cry of relief, knowing I wasn't alone. This class helped me a lot. When I went back to my regular class, I was able to relax.
After a while, I had enough confidence and knowledge that I could read out loud and not stutter. The teacher was able to help me. This was the first step for me into the world of literature--a world that started to peak an interest for me.
As the years passed, there were times when a teacher would pull a book that was so utterly boring that I didn't finish it and I would set it aside. Only reading small pieces of it, enough information to hopefully help me pass tests on it.
A couple of months after graduating from high school, I enrolled in college. The dictionary still sat on my shelf in my bedroom. I would glance at it once in a while. I felt that what my Aunt had written on the cover was a puzzle in my life somehow. Her words, the words in that dictionary, were the key. But, the key to what?
Over the years, I have taken the dictionary with me, to sit on another shelf in another home. It wasn't until I was pregnant with my oldest son that a light shined on me. It was as if someone finally turned on my switch, those words on the inside of the dictionary finally meant something. There was a story inside me, just waiting to burst, waiting to jump onto paper.
During this pregnancy I was living with my parents, my husband was out to sea with the Navy. I opened a drawer that the dictionary was in, and all of the sudden, my heart began to race, I rushed around my parent's home looking for paper and a pen. I had a story idea. I had something to write about. My future, my future was right there, right in front of me. I sat at the kitchen table scribbling out a story. I sat there for several hours writing. And ever since, I have unlocked that mystery. That one sentence that my Aunt Inscribed for me. "Words are the key to your future." She knew, she knew back then that when she gave me that dictionary that it would forever change my life.
Today as I sit here telling this story, my "cool Aunt" is dying. She is terminally ill. There may be only moments for me to tell her these special words. Aunt Pat, thank you. Thank you for opening up that special part of me. Thank you for opening me up to a world of imagination, a world of suspense and excitement, a world of adventure, hope, peace and serenity. Thank you for showing me my future.
If someone special has touched you in such a way, let them know. Let them know they helped to mold and change your life.