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Making friends

By Jan Miller Penton

Here it is the middle of July before I can even turn around. The days, months, and even decades seem to fly by at almost lightening speed, and I am reminded of how much our lives can and do change with every year. When I was a skinny, little freckle faced girl with knees that seemed to be perpetually skinned, the lazy days of summer lasted such a very long time.

Our house in Harrisville, Mississippi was filled to the brim with children, and I shared the spot of middle child with my older sister, Carol. She was beautiful, and I was smart, although I suppose she was intelligent, and I didn’t look too bad. But that was the impression that I had anyway, because I couldn’t get enough of books, and she didn’t care a whit about them.

Books have always had a magical mystery for me, and I could spend hours upon hours in a bookstore without an ounce of boredom. My children all feel the same and are all avid readers. I suppose it must be, at least in part, due to all the hours we spent cuddled up together while I read stories. It was part of our evening routine, and the children looked forward to the continuance of our tales during the day which made bedtime something to look forward to rather than dread.

As a retired educator, I see such value in leading children to enjoy reading. That is key to helping them become lifelong learners. With all the misinformation and rewriting of history that is occurring in our lifetime, and even taking books from the school’s curriculum which helped us see life from a different era, it is more imperative than ever to help our youth know that so much can be gleaned from reading an honest account from our past, no matter the author’s perspective.

A young man recently came from New Orleans to install our television, and we got to talking about our life experiences. He so happened to be a young, black father, and I, of course, am a not so young white grandmother. We delved into the things that people were always taught to keep out of polite conversation. You know the ones, politics and religion.

Our conversation flowed quite naturally as we conversed about our families and such. Melvin is the father of three young children, just as I am the mother of three grown children, and we shared about the joys and complications of parenthood.

In a matter of minutes, we both realized that we were much the same in our interests and efforts to raise happy, healthy, and productive children.

Melvin keeps his children close, monitors what they watch on TV, and absolutely abhors the culture of hate among the races that he feels the government is perpetuating. Neither of us could come up with any reasonable explanation, but in a small way we fought back; we each made a friend.

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