Friday, April 21, 2017


Whenever I hear the word "indomitable", I always recall someone whom I believe epitomizes the near cliche phrase "indomitable spirit". 

Years ago I volunteered with the Reading Recovery Program. My assignment was to help first and second graders with reading problems. I was to spend 1/2 hour with each child. It was easy to see that nearly all of the ones I met received little help or encouragement from home. We would send handmade reading packets home with the children and the parents were supposed to initial that they had listened while the child read. The packets were seldom returned.

One of the children I assisted was a burn victim with scars on her entire face, and every other visible part of her body. Of course, I shouldn't, or wouldn't, ask her about the scars. Her teacher told me that the child's mother had fallen asleep while smoking; the mother escaped with no injuries but the child suffered those devastating wounds. The grandmother gained custody of the child.

She was behind in her reading ability because she had missed so much school due to the consequences of of the burns and numerous operations.  She was very eager to learn and she wouldn't let me turn the pages in the books; the tips of her fingers were missing, but she would lick her finger to be able to turn pages in books. I was truly impressed and inspired by her tenacity.

However, I had not seen her since she was seven years old, but I often wondered what happened to her.  Throughout the years, whenever I would feel sorry for myself, I would always recall her turning those pages with those little stubs and I would say to myself to remember her indomitable spirit. 

Recently, I saw her in the a local store where she was working.  Of course, I suspected it was she when I saw the scars, but felt certain that it was indeed she, when I saw her fingertips as she was busily wrapping a piece of glassware in newspaper; I saw her name tag and I asked, "Weren't you in Mrs. Milstead's class?" I doubted that she would remember me, but she smiled and said, "Yes, Mrs. Raypole, I remember you helped with the reading program." After chatting awhile, she shared that she was going to meet her fiance's parents for the first time that weekend.   She wanted me to be sure to tell Mrs. Milstead that she now had a baby boy. I immediately sent an e-mail to Mrs. Milstead.

I saw her again today and she told me that Mrs. Milstead had stopped in to see her.

How does a person survive and have such a positive outlook? I don't need any self-help books; I can just consult with her.

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