Prior to committing to writing this post, but having already thought of and settled on a title, I hadn’t even realized that today is actually Wednesday. After realizing it is in fact a Wednesday, I took it as a sign that I SHOULD BE writing this post.
This morning, just moments ago, I became aware of something I hadn’t realized; there was really no way I could have known until it was actually revealed to me. Many years ago, beginning from the Fall of 6th grade, as an 11-year-old, my mom returned to the workforce as a part-time preschool teacher. Having taught numerous years in the past, she left for several years to raise my older sister, Hope and I. Re-entering the workforce was a new venture for her, but one she was excited and hopeful for. Upon arriving at the private preschool, she was introduced to the group of teachers who would become much more than solely her coworkers. They became her friends, her confidantes, her team; the ones who she would confide in, laugh with and sometimes, even cry with. Each of them came from their own unique backgrounds with something different to offer, each of them talented and intelligent in their own right. There was my mom and H (keeping her name to this for privacy reasons) both quiet, reserved, intelligent and poised and wise beyond their years. Then there was C, equally as intelligent and confident and with a unique sense of humor. There was K, the youngest of the group, both kindhearted and spunky. Of course, there was Ro (revealing her name for a reason to be detailed as I continue), the matriarch of the group, the one with a creative tact and ability beyond what I can even place into words; the type of a woman who could take shreds of paper and turn it into a masterpiece. She, who altered my sister’s prom dress, she who provided advice and comfort to those around her, she who would do for anyone, no matter what she, herself had or didn’t have.
The beginning of my senior year was the start of a tumultuous foray into early adulthood, one where I was frequently alone and ill. What truly got me through that year, were the days I would work alongside my mom and her team within the preschool. Being there, helping and teaching the children was the treatment proven most effective for me. Whether it was conducting circle time, dancing and laughing with the children, or helping them stir the batter for the corn muffins we baked, for the several hours I worked, it was as though my problems and worries dissipated and were a distant memory. After graduating high school, I commuted to college and at one point, had Wednesday afternoons completely free. Realizing my abundance of free time, I started to drive directly from my last Wednesday morning class to the preschool, arriving just in time for the afternoon naps to begin and the Wednesday afternoon gathering at the long, brown table in the largest classroom within the school. A school-wide two-hour nap time proved to also be the time when all the teachers would gather together at that long table. On Wednesday afternoons, I became one of them, welcomed in to their table, as one of the “Wednesday Women,” the name I thought of as I sat among them. It didn’t matter of the years that separated us, or my condition or who I was; I always felt accepted. We even took our comradeship outside the classroom on one occasion as we attended karaoke at a local restaurant. Sitting among them, I wasn’t that “damaged,” worried and self-conscious teen, but a woman beginning her college education, poised and ready to take on the world.
Being among the Wednesday Women taught me much more than a classroom ever could. It taught me acceptance, patience, joy, and the importance of maintaining a sense of humor during times that could have broken anyone. Sometimes, it is better to laugh than to waste time worrying about what could or should have been. With this being said, my morning took a dramatic downward turn as I perused social media. Suddenly, I stumbled upon a Facebook post from Ro’s daughter, a woman who I also previously worked with at the school and came to be quite fond of, as we shared my interests and similar sentiments. It was a post detailing Ro’s current battle with Stage 3 Colon Cancer. My heart dropped as I read and took in the words, how she no longer could work, afford to pay her daily bills and treatments. Just a couple months ago, having not seen Ro for many years, my mom and I ran into her in a local home improvement store where she worked for the past several years ago. Seeing her again and hearing her talk felt like a return to the comfort of that table housing the Wednesday Women. Now as she battles for her health, I am at a loss, reading of her struggles and desperately wishing I could help. Unable to help in the financial way she needs, I’m writing this post today, as my form of help, attempting to use my words to summon the care and support she so desperately needs during this time.
Reaching out for help, especially of the financial kind is a very difficult feat for me, one that is a tough pill to swallow, fearing of how it will be received. Though, today I am putting that aside to help another, to help someone who helped me, to help someone who has given so much to her family, friends, and all the children and neighbors she taught and inspired. If you can or if you know someone or an organization who can, please, I encourage you to offer what you can or want to. Please reach out to me directly, if you’d like to contribute or know if someone who would like to.