Today I would like to share with you a story from my past that I hope speaks to many of you. It’s about loss, love, and kindness. They are memories that will stay with me forever.
For seven years of my life I lived in Bronx, NY until I left at the age of 10. In my last year of being in the City, I was in the 5th grade at an elementary school that was literally one block from my home. That was where I met Philippe Gaton. Philippe was a Puerto Rican boy with the kindest heart of anyone that I had known. Never had I met someone so pure and so mature. I was a bit of a troublemaker in that I loved wrestling on the playground and playing jokes on my classmates. And when someone took a joke too seriously or if I got myself into trouble with my classmates, Philippe would stand up for me and at times would actually stand between me and the aggressor. There was a time when I had bumped into this grown man, causing him to become verbally hostile. Being a terrified 10 year-old, all I could do was apologize over and over, but it was to no avail. Philippe came out of nowhere and stood between me and this adult man and proceeded to deescalate the situation by talking to the man as if he were an adult himself. He then gently took my arm and steered me out of danger.
Naturally, of course, I developed strong feelings for Philippe. And naturally, I picked on him the most and made fun of him more than anyone. I often chuckle when I think back to our dreams at that point in our lives. I wanted to be a scientist and Philippe wanted to be a professional wrestler (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was big at the time). Being the person that I am and was, I never gathered the courage to tell Philippe how I really felt, but there was an unspoken understanding that we both felt the same way about each other. The word that I can best use to describe him was “good.” His soul, his character, his looks, and his heart were all good.
I passed the 5th grade with the expectation and assurance that Philippe and I would be together the next school year. As classmates and perhaps, even as a couple. That summer my brother and I went away for camp for a two week period. On the day of our return, my mother left her job to pick us up and drop us off to our father who was home as he always was. The cab was late and in a rush, my mother dropped us off at the door and hurriedly got in the cab and back off to work. To this day, I do not understand the rage and fury that my father had when I told him that my mother was not with us because she had to hurry back to work. He destroyed the apartment and nearly broke everything in sight. He was so anxious for my mother to get home that he waited on the corner block before hauling her off. That night they had the worst fight I ever remember them having. I think it was then that my heart severed ties with the man that was my father. And when he exhausted himself and left to the streets, I went up to mother and declared “I don’t want to live here anymore.”
A week later, my mother sent my brother and I to stay with my aunt in South Carolina for the summer. In that time, my mother took what she could and left the Bronx. My brother and I returned to New York but it was to Binghamton where I would be for seven years. And my father knew nothing of it. Moving to Binghamton was a relief because of what I was leaving behind and because of the promise of the better life I was looking forward to. Though we looked over our shoulders often, I didn’t care about what my father thought and how he felt. I only cared that we were free and safe. At the same time, I was sad because I was not able to say goodbye to Philippe. I knew that he would understand what I was going through, and it broke my heart that I disappeared without warning.
Two whole years passed before I saw him again. Although we had left the Bronx, we would visit on a regular basis to see my other Aunt and go school shopping. On this one particular summer day in the City, my mother was craving beef patties. We decided to go to a Caribbean bakery that I had visited all too often when we lived there. For some reason, I decided to wait for my mother in the car. And as I sat listening to my Aunt and cousin talk, I saw Philippe. With a small plastic bag in his hand, he looked like he had just stopped at the corner store and was heading home. Like a dream, I saw him walking slowly towards the car, asking myself if it really was him. And when he came close enough, I threw the car door open and shouted his name.
Philippe stopped abruptly and looked at me. He then said something that astounds me to this day. He had simply said my name. After all those years of wanting to see him, after all the praying and wishing that he would not forget me, that I still meant something to him, he said my name.
Philippe approached the car slowly, respectfully acknowledging my cousin and aunt and turning his attention back to me. The look of shock on his face reflected my own. I don’t remember who reached out first, but I remember grasping his hand. Despite everything I felt and was feeling, all I could say was “I moved.” He asked me where. I told him. He asked me when. I told him. He confirmed that I just finished the 7th grade. And then we didn’t know what to say because all that was needed and wanted to be said couldn’t have possibly been done in the short amount of time we had. So we said goodbye. I slowly closed the car door, and out of the back window I watched Philippe sulk slowly through the crowd and up the hill that I had walked up and down so many times. Just like a dream once again, the world seemed to have been fast-forwarded as he alone moved in slow motion. I watched him walk away from me until I could see him no longer, and still I looked.
“Who was that?” my cousin asked.
All I could choke out was “someone I knew” before I turned around cried with all the strength that was in me. It had seemed that all the pain I had been through, the love, the loss, the unspoken words, and the unrecognizable feelings I had since knowing Philippe came out at that very moment. I had never cried that hard before then.
One night after that I had a dream. Philippe and I were in the 5th grade again and we were on the swings at our school playground just talking while the stars above us shone brightly. We laughed about the old times we had on the playground and in the classroom, and I told him why I moved away. I told him I was sorry that he never knew. I told him that I liked him a whole lot. And then I told him goodbye.
These days, I dream about Philippe once in a blue moon, but we have not reconnected. Like the young 7th grader, I don’t believe he will remember me. But perhaps, as it was before, I may be surprised at hearing him say my name once more. Philippe is not a professional wrestler, but from I gather, he is an aspiring actor. He goes by Philip Gaston now. He has and will always have a special place in my heart.
Peace and Love,
Many of us believe that everything happens for reason; good or bad, there is a purpose for every event that God allows to happen or not happen. This is definitely something I strongly believe in as well. But I also believe in the fact that just because everything happens for a reason, doesn’t mean we are meant to know what that reason is. It is impossible to get into the mind of God and many of us (including myself) have stressed ourselves out trying to figure out the “why” and “how” and “when.” As Joyce Meyer said, if we were able to get into the mind of God and understand why He does the things He does, he wouldn’t be as great and mysterious. Yes, everything does happen for a reason, but with that belief comes acceptance and trust that everything will be okay and the possession of courage to keep moving forward in the direction we are being led.
Peace and Love,
“You’re the greatest husband in the world.”
“She’s the best mom ever.”
“He’s simply the greatest.”
“You’re the best grandpa in the world!”
These are words that make me smile and sometimes laugh when I say them, hear them, read them, or when they are said to me. It’s because the true meaning of these words make them that much more powerful and sweet.
When something like those words are said, they may not be taken that seriously because one may unknowingly think in the back of their mind that they cannot possibly be the greatest at something in the history of ever and the world. And even so, these words are still gladly accepted because the general meaning is understood.
But the way I feel about it is that to everyone that loves us, we are thus a part of their world, their lives. So within this large world are “mini worlds” that belong to each of us personally. So, to be told that I’m the greatest wife ever means so much because in his world, in his life, I am the greatest, and out of everyone in the entire world, he has chosen me.
Everyone has the potential and power in them to be something great and to do something great. I hope that you are and will be someone’s greatest.
Peace and Love,
In 2009 the Yankees won the world series against the Philadelphia Phillies…mostly because of Hideki Matsui. Now, this is just personal opinion, but I am not the only one that feels this way. That night, Matsui became the first Japanese-born player and full-time designated hitter in the history of MLB to win the world series MVP award. Matsui was my favorite athlete even before this happened, so I was of course extremely upset when the Yankees did not sign him the next season. And although Matsui played for other teams, he remained my favorite player, never forgotten by Yankees fans and non-Yankees fans. And it was yesterday afternoon that Matsui signed a minor league contract with the Yankees, officially retiring as one.
I sat teary-eyed through the entire ceremony not because Matsui is my favorite athlete but because of what he stands for. The best way to describe Matsui is quiet, humble strength. You see, Matsui is the only Yankee to hit a grand slam at his first, I mean first, at bat. He went 4-4 and 3-4 on his first two days back after returning from wrist surgery that had him out for several months. And through it all, Matsui remained humble and a true definition of a team player. He actually apologized for getting injured, and shies away from talking about himself. He has stated that he felt like he didn’t deserve the MVP award, and although most players would name this as their shining moment in their career, Matsui named a victory against the Boston Red Sox as his favorite moment because the Yankees won the game in a total team effort.
The way I feel about it is that one can be a great baseball player and have awesome numbers, but if your attitude sucks and you’re all about yourself then, to me, those numbers mean absolutely nothing. Besides his quiet strength and humility, what I like most about Matsui is that the man has a sense of humor. He is known for playing jokes on his teammates and every once in a while you could catch him making faces at the camera. Oh, how I miss watching him play!
So, how does this relate to education? Well, say there was this great teacher, and you asked him or her what their best/favorite moment was in their profession. What would you think if the teacher said, “Winning educator of the year” as opposed to “Watching my students evolve” or “Seeing my students light up when they understand something” or “One of my students telling me that I’m their role model”? Matsui represents greatness by being great through others. One is a great player and a great teacher through the action, influence, and aid of those outside themselves. With education being more and more about testing and numbers and treating students like they’re all the same, I know that it can be quite difficult to truly teach and help a student.
Matsui represents how a community should be. A community should be, well…a community. This simply means placing others above yourself and being there for them and actually caring. Matsui reminds me of who I am, who I want to be, and who I have to be in order to consider myself truly successful. I am only as great as the impact that my words and life has on others.
Thank you, Hideki Matsui. I hope and pray that one day I can share these words with you in person.
Peace and Love,
Many, if not, practically all of us, have thought about what our goals are and should be in life. There are even some of you who are still struggling with your sense of purpose and goals in this world. When I was much younger, I thought about this briefly until I realized the simple answer: I wanted to live my life for other people. I wanted to impact others and the world in a positive way and make a change for the better. If one were to actually think about it, many of the most valued and difficult careers involve outreach, assistance, and aid to others (teachers, missionaries, doctors, nurses, firefighters, police officers, etc).
This lifestyle of living and working for others is very significant when it comes to leadership. Our leaders should be there for their people and do everything in benefit for them. However, I believe that I am not the only that feels this is sometimes not the case. Should a leader be for themselves or for their people? What does it truly mean to be a leader? These are questions that I indirectly presented to my readers when I wrote Kingdom of the Sun because they pertain so much to our own lives. And so, I wanted my book to be a reflection, and perhaps even a guide, as to what is going on in our world.
I have come realize that each “dead-end” job that I had had reaffirmed my passion because I know that my fire would not be as strong and that Kingdom of the Sun would not have been written if God didn’t put those difficulties and experiences in my life. I may not fully be there yet, but each post I write and each word and theme that I embedded in my book was to inspire you, and touch you, and perhaps even fuel a fire in you as well. You see, I write for you.
“Life for a Life”: Living for someone, a purpose. “For Life”: A way of being and existing, because when I am bettering someone else’s life, it is then that I am alive and truly living.
Peace and Love,