Encouragement and mentoring can make a world of difference.
By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | November 12, 2012
The poem below was written by a freckled six-year-old girl while family gathered for Thanksgiving in 1960 North Carolina. The weather was brisk and John Kennedy had just become the 34th president. A bit precocious, the little girl was always “into something.” She was teased by her uncles while aunts tolerated her by letting her try on their costume jewelry and perfume. She loved these gatherings, especially when Aunt Pat and Uncle Pete traveled all the way from Iowa— they were different, they were special.
Children play gay as can be.
They climb trees on their nees
The turcky says gobl-gobl as the
Pilgrim chops off his head whack
When mom and dad sits down
we say gobl-gobl to them.
We are glad that the pilgrims
made Thanksgiving. Becose we get
“TOW DAYS” out of school.
Indians have different dances.
One is called the snake dance.
Another is called the war dance.
And when they started to dance
The drums would say “boom boom
A Prere God is Grate
God is good Let us thank
him for holldays.
My fifty-plus-year-old self smiles at my writing errors and relishes those memories like an ink-stained photograph. It was a time just before the assassination of Kennedy and the death of my beloved grandfather. My parents were both authoritarian and distant— the exact opposites of Pat and Pete.
A child of the thirties, my Aunt Pat put writers on a literary pedestal and often talked about having “a writer in the family.” She took the poem as only a six-year-old could write it to the Morganton News Herald and had them print the poem for all to see. When I saw my poem in the newspaper I was flabbergasted. I had feelings I could not express as a six-year-old because I did not have the words.
My Aunt Pat, with her heartfelt encouragement, had set off a spark in me that could not be extinguished. No, I never became famous but I have always written— letters, short stories, poems, notes, directions, recipes— mostly as a volunteer but always with a purpose.
Most of us are born with the same potential to become something. Most parents are nurturing and want their offspring to become self-sufficient and responsible. We often get busy with work, chores and life that we forget or are just too tired to take the extra steps to encourage.
The word ‘mentor’ sounds complicated and time consuming but it isn’t. Every person reading this can take on the role of a mentor and encourage all kids where they live, work and worship. To a child with overtaxed parents, a few simple words can seem like a present tied with ribbons. Just think, with the small gift of encouragement my Aunt Pat gave me the love of the printed word— my words.
By the way, Pat and Pete have a daughter and— you guessed it— she’s a successful writer in Chicago, Tina Jens. Imagine that.
Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.
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