You are changed when at 22 your student in your junior English class comes up to you and says, “You don’t know I’m Jewish do you.” You feel like a fool because no, you didn’t know this young man was Jewish. You don’t know any Jews and you are 22 years old—the product of parochial education. You need to bust out into the world.
You are changed when another student comes up to you in homeroom first hour and tells you to be careful after the basketball assembly. It’s 1969 and things are on fire in some neighborhoods. This very tall African American male doesn’t want any harm to come to you because he knows the plan: during your study hall in the cafeteria all the chairs are going to be to thrown through the windows. You are starting to make connections.
You are changed during what is called a Human Relations meeting when the leader accuses your father of raping black women. You burst into tears crying out that your father died when you were a child. You just don’t get it. This guy is trying to break you down, you blonde, white sheltered human being.
You are changed when your students, again, surprise you during 2 different class periods with parties when you depart on maternity leave. They bake cakes and chip in to buy a bicycle for your baby. Now that’s love.
You are changed as a mother by three amazing children, and as a wife by a tender, funny, bright and achieving husband. You embrace your life. But after a while you go looking for something outside your front door and you find another nurturing and giving profession—nursing. More change.
You are changed when you hold the hand and rub the back of 13 and 14 year old teens at Mercy Hospital giving birth for the first and sometimes second time.
You are changed when a pale blonde teen with a loud talking mother tries to let you know that the father of her baby is really her mother’s boyfriend.
You are changed when a newly delivered mom talks about how her check will now go up—this was before Bill Clinton.
And now working at the health department you are changed even more when you walk through the clinic doors each day to see people of all shapes, sizes and colors needing medical care. Thank God for the county and the amazing and giving people that work there day after day doing everything they can to help lives, to save lives.
You are forever changed. It’s a good thing. Very good.