Grace

She was  a  beautiful girl.  She had long, dark red hair almost to her waist.  In a few years hair like hers would be the rage.  But in 1962 it just meant she was too poor to go to a beauty shop to have her hair cut or permed.  She had lots of freckles sprinkled all over her face and arms and neck.   Her clothes were obviously hand-me-downs.  She came from a large family.  She wasn’t always clean.  I guess you could say she had a lot of strikes against her from the very beginning.

We weren’t very nice to her.  We didn’t play with her.  We didn’t include her in playground activities.  When we traded papers in class to grade them, everyone always rolled their eyes or did a little cringe if you had to trade with Grace.  You know, like you didn’t want to touch her paper because she had touched it.

One winter when the weather forced us to stay inside for recess,  some of us found a Christmas play written in a woman’s magazine.   We asked our teacher, Mrs. Edman, if we could put on a play.  We began to pick out parts.   Grace wanted to be in the play.  Someone said no.  The teacher intervened and we were given a long talk about treating others as we would like to be treated.  We felt bad for a little while.  We gave Grace a minor part.

I don’t remember if Grace went to school with us for many years.  She was inconsequential to me.  I didn’t pay attention to her.  She was just a shadow in the background.  She didn’t graduate with us.

When I turned 40  I began reading the obituaries on a regular basis.  Parents were dying.  Sometimes young people.  As you get older obituaries become something you read.

Grace, the obituary read.  I checked the date of birth and her maiden name.  It was her.   A dull pain went through my heart, caught in my throat as I read on.  She had died in a nursing home.  At the age of 40.   She had married but her husband had already passed away.  She had a son.  Her son had died too.  When he was just 12.  That’s how old Grace was when I knew her.

All the wonderful things that had happened to me over the years came flooding through me.  Why had I been so blessed while Grace had seemingly not been blessed at all?

Grace is a word you hear in church.  Why had God allowed all these bad things to happen to Grace.   Grace means “unmerited help given to people by God”.   Was that some kind of a  cruel joke?  What had He done to help Grace?  Then again, what had I done?  Nothing.

I felt guilt and shame.  I still do.  I have not forgotten Grace.  I think about her on a regular basis.  Last spring,  I walked through the cemetery near where I grew up.  My mom is buried there.  I walked through to see if the daffodils I had planted at my mother’s gravesite had bloomed yet.  I walked to the far corner of the cemetery where the oldest graves are located. Much to my surprise I found Grace’s tombstone.  It was a nice stone.  It had some plastic flowers stuck in the ground in front that looked pretty new.   No husband was there.  No son.  Some other relatives, perhaps a mother and father were there. Again I wondered.  What was Grace’s story?  Had there been any happiness in her life?  She had married.  She had a son.  Did she have some brief moments of happiness and joy that we all hope to have?  Was she happy despite her circumstances?  Is she happy now?  Did she earn eternal grace from God?

As a teacher, I was often drawn to the children who were neglected or who had difficulty learning.  Many teachers can say that; it’s just part of who we are.   I sometimes think that knowing Grace and remembering Grace made me want to help others.  It made me a more accepting person.   I can’t forget Grace.   I shouldn’t forget Grace.  Her shy smile and freckles should always be a part of me.

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About Life in the 50's and beyond...

Welcome to Life in the 50's and 60's and beyond .... where I write about my childhood memories, music of the 60's and about life in the country. I am a mother, grandmother, farmer's wife, business owner, and retired teacher.
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25 Responses to Grace

  1. Caddo Veil says:

    WOW, this was a hear-tbreaker– beautifully written. God bless you–love, Caddo

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  2. Beth says:

    Ruth, just the fact that Grace is still in your heart means that she did serve a purpose here on Earth in some way, even if it was just to remind others…

    “Amazing Grace…Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear, and Grace my fears relieved. How precious did that Grace appear, the hour I first believed.”

    You are a special person and truly blessed with a heart that overflows with love, care and concern for others! Remember when “our kids” in class said “Wow! You guys have a song for everything!” Sometimes those songs can be bitter-sweet….Powerful stuff!

    I miss you! 😦

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  3. http://barefootbaroness.org/2012/09/20/unspent-anger/ if this is it than I hope you have not given up on your post. I will chat later I am truly working under a defcit this morning I will explain later but wanted you to not have to look further if this is in fact what you were looking for ??
    Hugs to you Ruth~

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    • YES! That’s it… thanks and I hope your day gets better….

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    • It got better yes. it a momentary clog in my inner workings of this life. I had a long distance call from a friend I love to hear from, who has been worried an she called when I was feeling committed else where, wanting to be else where. So messed up both up, Not giving the call the attention I should, Just a self shaking out was what I needed.

      I am glad this was the post you were looking for only so you can stop looking I kind of thought it might be.

      Be encouraged always my friend~ BB

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  4. souldipper says:

    Being brought up by a teacher, my siblings and I did not get away with bullying. It was brought to light and we had to look at ourselves – in that light. Consequently we saw bullying before many others did – even from mean teachers, in our youthful opinion. However, there was a farm girl who desperately wanted to play ball, but couldn’t stay after school to play with us. At lunchtime, no one wanted her on the team. The remarks were cruel and uncalled for. I decided to spend recesses teaching her how to play. Then I set up a round of games with only the best players during lunch. She blew me away. She ended up being the best pitcher in the school – even better than the boys.

    I’ve never forgotten her. She set me up for life. She was the promise that it could be done and the impetus for reminding me to give time to others who had the desire.

    I roar when I see anyone being treated like an underdog. But for their sake, the transformation process has often needed to be undercover. Sad.

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  5. free penny press says:

    When we are young, many times we follow the crowd instead of our hearts.. This touched me deeply and I thank you for sharing it with us..

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  6. That is a heartbreaking story, and all too sadly, one that reminds me of a suicide obit of a former classmate.

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  7. It was that very loud indifference that struck me as a child and also that has stayed with me forever.
    I saw then it was so easy to give a smile to the Grace’s in my world. At what little cost? I was lucky in that popularity was not a thing in my small rural school. But we did have a kid whose name was Don. He was reported to be the poorest of the community families. That stuck with me too. What did poor have to do with unclean hands and clothes? How little I knew and how naive. My parents and older brother always said I wear my heart on my sleeve. True most times.

    I befriended Don. He had no idea it turned out that clean hands could make others feel more comfortable. Or other basis common hygiene. No one ever taught him. I realized then how cruel the world is. How do we know Don & Grace’s history?

    How do we know what their dirty hands cost them?

    What a fabulous heartfelt post Ruth You are a courageous lady and I admire you for starting such a great conversation ~ BB

    “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
    ~Maya Angelou

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    • When I retired from teaching that quotation from Maya Angelou was printed on the plaque I received. I can thank Grace for that. Little do we know how people can affect our lives even after 50 years!

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    • i absolutely love that you received this quote a sa gift. how wonderfully appropriate. I am grateful you shared this with me. Ironic that I send yiou the quote taht is part of my signatiure in my email. I copied because it so fit that comment.

      By the Ruth have you seen a question I askedof you on Cyklopp, Rrides Again? I wonder if maybe you are no longer being alerted to messages on the post you had commented on. Let me know, I will wait so I do not repeat myself. It has to do with you maybe doing a guest post.

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      • I think the reply you are looking for is at the end of my blog There is not just One Lovely Blog….. unless I did it wrong… I am not that great at posting links ……Check it out at https://retiredruth.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/ oh i am so confused!!!! most of the time.

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      • Oh Girlfriend this was my bad performance, you are just fine! I don’t know how I did but i have left a comment for you about your grandmothers photo at Ctklopps an dnow this one too> hmmm.. Should I just say shoot mr now? Not shoot me as in a gun, but in a camera, see my red face? I’ll never admit to it so you might want evidence. lol.. good grief!
        I had too many tabs open, commenting on posts pages, as well as on the comments page I tried to pretend that I was capable of multi-tasking. Like I even know what that means….
        I wonder who is going to get a repeat comment?

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        • Boy do I understand this…..I am working on a blog and wanted to link another blog because I was inspired by this particular blog about anger and how we deal with it, and now I cannot find it. Was it you? It is driving me nuts and I just want to abandon the whole thing because I can’t find the inspiration! ggrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr….. Too many tabs open multi tasking…. not for the faint of heart or for those of us over 60! I would love to “shoot” you but alas would probably be out of focus….

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  8. FlaHam says:

    Ruth, we all had a Grace we knew in school, and for the most part we always treated that person the same, no matter where we were. Hindsight is always 20/20 and thankfully so. It allows us to learn and to reflect. This was a wonderful post, thanks — Bill

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  9. Ruth, you reduced me to tears. Thank you for writing this. Grace has grace now.

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  10. I was one of those who always had to make friends with the underdogs…the poor…the different…And later in life I worked with Special Ed Children for 30+ years…I’m not saying I was a better person than others…It was just something I had inside of me…I’m still the one who can be drawn into relationships with what some would call the undesirable…The “different”…people…Some say I’m easily influenced…some say I’m taken advantage of…I say, I have to do what I know in my heart is the right thing to do!”…

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  11. Amy Elder says:

    Sadly, there is always a Grace. I hope as teachers we are looking for ways to help these children who are different.

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  12. Very powerful writing. I think we all had a Grace in our lives that now makes us feel guilty.

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