Tuesday, January 7, 2014

"Don't Judge A Book"...by Jim Terry

All right, now that we are well into the new year…”Ok, only a week”…I was sitting back pondering the other day of some of the wonderful childhood experiences I had while growing up.  One experience, in particular, stood out in my mind. This reflection process started when I received a book I had ordered that wasn’t quite what it seemed. 

I was in 9th grade at the time and had a lot of wonderful friends and family to support me. I also was playing football and baseball that year at school.  I never was, nor ever will be, the “QUIET” guy.  I’m a guy that likes to talk, likes to have fun and likes to be the “off-center “of attention guy.  The center of attention just is too much pressure. …I’m kinda more like the side act that people are glad to have there because it makes the act more funny and entertaining.  …the “HAM” (no pun intended) without the “CHEESE”  doesn’t sound so good does it? 

I was “advised” by my parents and “pushed” this particular year to take chorus from Mr. Rich in Junior High School by someone, who will remain nameless, because they were one of my best friends at the time.  …Let it just be said that I really can’t sing and am more of an American Idol audition BEFORE the cuts!  Yes I can, or used to sing ok, but I would always have to add in some comedic relief to enhance my poor vocal performance. For those of you who are not familiar with American Idol, go to Google and type in “Pants on the ground” and watch the first video that pops up.  …This would be a similar audition I would give but probably not as good!

So with the year flying by, as they always seem to do, there was one girl in our choir that was just a little bit "different" and “slow”.  …As kids we never think before we act, do we?  I must say that I was guilty a time or two, in an indirect way, helping with teasing this poor girl.  I was never mean verbally; however, making a dandelion chain necklace or picking a bouquet of dandelions from our schoolyard and presenting it to her in class and because of my intent, wasn’t a very nice thing to do either.  …I must say that I was always taken back by how she received the “gifts” that I had just given to her.  She always had a twinkle in her eye, the warmest smile that stretched from ear to ear and would always say, “Thank you very much Jim.” 

I found out as I got to know her over the years that she didn’t come from the “best” of situations.  She came from a broken home and her Mother left her Father due to domestic violence issues. This domestic violence also didn’t stop with the Mother. As I talked to this young woman, I found out that this also incorporated her as a young girl. Was this part of the reason why this young woman was also now afflicted and deemed a "different" or a “slow” person by those around her?

Now that I look back on it, she really wasn’t the “slow” one at all. After all, here I am several YEARS later reflecting on this and FINALLY realizing whom the “SLOW” one really is.  Maybe she was the one that was playing along with our childhood jokes and thought to herself, “I’ll make their day better by saying, ‘thank you’ and allow them to have fun.” …I am happy to report that I was able to make amends with this young woman several years ago in my early twenties and was grateful for that opportunity to do so because she was so much more than expected on the outside as well as on the inside.

Which brings me back to this book I ordered that started this whole reflection process.  Earlier this past year and in my efforts to help my Mom with her blog and her exposure, I had “In A Nutshell Volume I” published and gifted that to her, my family and some of my Mother’s close friends.  Every copy that arrived was flawless and looked beautiful.  As my Mom continued to write, I then thought, “Of course there is going to be a Volume II, Volume III and so on.”  So for Christmas gifts this past year I also published Volume II.  As I was inspecting the shipment and browsing through all of the books to make sure the books were just perfect before I presented them to those that were to receive them, I noticed one copy that was a bit thicker and heavier than the rest of the copies.  As I opened this copy, I was impressed to see that they had transformed my Mother’s blogs and her collages into vibrant displays of East Indian culture. …Beautiful, creative, inventive but  "different" than what was expected.

I couldn’t help but to laugh and think that my Mom must have had a hand in this.  As most of you know, my sweet Mother passed just this past November and never saw this Volume II published as it was to be one of her Christmas gifts from her son.  She had a wonderful sense of humor and I thought, “How could every other copy but ONE be perfect?”  I’m sure it was because she wanted her son and all of us to have just one more laugh or “life lesson” on her!
I already had my laugh Mom when I opened your "different" book..."THANKS and I LOVE you too!" 

And the “life lesson?” ...I will offer you this simple quote...

“Never judge someone by the way he looks or a book by the way it's covered; For inside those tattered pages, There's a lot to be discovered”― Stephen Crosgrove