When I was a child of 9 years old I was diagnosed with complex partial epilepsy and little would I know that it would take many years to find a drug named Tegretol to find control in my freshman year of high school before I knew what health meant.
My best friend in 5th grade was a blind smart girl named Cheryl Lightcap, and I have always thought she was aptly named. She spoke with a southern accent and sat in the back of the class with her braille machine. That year the book drive came around and I ordered the story about Helen Keller’s life. On the back of the book it had the braille alphabet on it and I would practice trying to read it and was always fascinated by my friend Cheryl who would so effortlessly read pages and pages of heavy brown braille paper.
Her hands were calloused from reading all the books in braille she did. I was so proud to walk with her and amazingly she could touch what I was wearing and know what color it was-light or dark. I would describe what I saw to her and tell her about the day, if it was sunny and what the kids were doing-other than us.
I would bring cook books and read them in a pink book bag and find a table to read in. The kids didn’t like me because I was different and that stayed that way until Tegretol was introduced in my freshman year of high school. I was able to attend school with the rest of the kids, not miss so much school and not have to work quite so hard. Then boys who made fun of me in years past wanted to “be my friend” of which I wanted no part of. I was the same person, just healthier and older.
I always knew it wasn’t our purpose on earth to suffer and that even though we weren’t understood or treated as the same we were the smartest kids in the class and we had each other and hope; I knew though I learned big words at an early age I was still only a child and I had my whole life ahead of me.
I remember for “Show and Tell” one year in Mrs. Acosta’s 3rd grade class playing the piano and showing the kids how it worked. For a day I was treated better than the rest and the kids were in awe and Mrs. Acosta asked me what conservatory I studied at and I told her I learned how to play myself after my mom taught me 4 chords. She looked puzzled. I still play and have written 50 songs on piano that are copy right protected in the Library of Congress and would love the world to hear them one day.
I wish I knew where Cheryl Lightcap is today. I have searched for her numerous times but she probably married and changed her name. I do think of her often and the special times we had together. I also think of the “Gifts She Gave Me”…of courage, wisdom, persistence, perseverance, and somehow it made what I went through not so bad when I saw that she couldn’t see the pictures in the cook books I brought, and how I wanted her to! I remember how Mr. Hill yelled at me for holding her hand and explaining the world to her and always breaking us up. I think Mr. Hill was a PE teacher and shouldn’t have been teaching at all. It seemed he never took one Child Psychology course and had no heart most of the time.
There are many lessons I learned in life.
1. Savor the now and don’t dwell on the past. This is all we have. Give yourself the Present Called Life.
2. Try not to judge others too harshly until you know their story.
3. Make the most of your talents and abilities and down play the rest.
4. Don’t replay negative things others have said about you-it isn’t worth it and it isn’t fair to yourself!
5. Treat others as you want to be treated.
6. Ask others the magic words “How Are You?” and really mean it when you ask them. It probably was the first time anyone asked them all day.
7. Strive to make yourself better, smarter and happier each and every day so you can look back with no regrets.
What lessons have you learned in life so far?
Would you be willing to share a few with the readers of Totally Inspired Mind? I would love it if you did.
Paulette Le Pore Motzko