Autopilot

road under cloudy sky

( Intermediate Level )

Janie felt her life was at a dead end. The same routine day in and day out. She was single but she felt as if she was married to her job.

When she looks back, to when she was in high school, she yearned to be an adult. No responsibilities for studies or homework.

How different her life would be when she didn’t have to go to school anymore. Freedom. Or so she thought.

She soon realized how much her parents had provided for her. Simple things like the laundry or having dinner every night, never fail.

She never paid much attention to these things. Maybe she was like all other teenagers at the time.

Working nine to five every day, sometimes six days a week. She barely had time for herself. She was usually too tired to go out with the few friends she had.

I am on autopilot, is how she explained her life to her parents.” I do the same thing every day, Mom. From brushing my teeth to making coffee.”

” Most of the time when I head to work my mind is so focused on the things I have to get done that I feel my car drives itself to work.”

“Honestly, I do not know how you and dad managed so many years. You had me and Johnny plus the house and work. And you never complained. I try to be strong like you were but I feel I am breaking inside.”

“Welcome to being an adult, Janie,” is what her mom always said to her. Janie knew her mom meant well and probably she, herself, felt the same but couldn’t do anything about it.

Janie knew she had to do something about this. She was slowly losing herself. Slowly losing the ambitions she once had. She was tired of driving down the desolate highway of life and going nowhere.

Work deadlines needed to be met and Janie knew she couldn’t think about such nonsense. If she was to make it in the adult world she needs to buckle down and focus.

Vacation time was in two weeks. At this time she could reevaluate her life. Was she like all others in the world, working a nine to five job and they too felt stuck? She hoped to find the answers.

The first three days of her vacation was bliss. She didn’t need to set the alarm. She had the choice to get out of her pajamas or not. She didn’t have deadlines to meet.

To her surprise, she woke up at the normal time as she would if she was getting up for work. She tried to sleep in but she kept tossing and turning in her bed.

To add insult to injury, she found herself in that same routine. Starting the coffee, showering, grabbing a small breakfast. Why was this? She was on vacation.

Janie had planned a lunch date with her mom for noontime today. They would meet up at their favorite eatery, The Barbecue Shack, at the mall and afterwards do a little window shopping.

“Hi Mom. It is great to get out. I was going crazy. Here I have two wonderful weeks off and I find myself already bored after three days.” Her mother smiled at this comment.

I used to feel the same as you, Janie. I felt I was stuck. My life wasn’t going anywhere but I soon realized without routine in my life I didn’t have a purpose. I made myself take time out for myself. To do the things I enjoyed.”

“Some people had argued this was selfish of me. I am, after all, a wife and a mom to you and your brother. This time was just for me. Selfish? No, not really. It helped me continue knowing my identity. Who I am and what I love to do.”

“Your father did the same. We spent our time together and then we had our own special time alone. We were much happier as a married couple and as individuals.”

Janie listened carefully. She didn’t have the responsibilities of her mom or had a husband to think about but what she said made sense. What time did she set aside to do the things she loved to do? She hadn’t.

“Mom, you’re right. I haven’t painted since I graduated from the university. I haven’t gone out hiking or even swimming in a long time. I was focused so much on my career I gave up on living.”

It is not that you gave up on you, it is that your priorities are set up in the wrong order. In order to be the best person you can be you must first take care of yourself and enjoy what you love doing. I went many years like you until I discovered this.”

The two finished their lunch, paid the bill and headed out into the mall. Neither one had anything special to say but but each was enjoying the other’s company.

After spending hours going in and out of shops it was time for them to part. Janie turned to her mom and gave her a big hug.

“Mom, thank you. Thank you for today and thank you for your honesty. When I return from my vacation I will have new priorities in place. Work is important but I should come first. Always.”

Written By Angel

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Thoughts From Angel:

I think all of us feel like Janie sometimes in our lifetime. Is the grass greener on the other side? I do not believe it is.. I found that believing in yourself and following your passion you can achieve the necessary balance in life and enjoy every moment.

If you appreciate what I do please support me:

Vocabulary:

dead end – noun: no exit, no way out

yearned – verb: wanting something

never fail – phrase: someone or something always does what is expected

autopilot – noun: doing something without thinking

focused – verb: pay attention to someone or something

complained – verb: dissatisfaction

ambitions – noun: desire and determination to achieve success

desolate – adjective: emptiness

deadlines – noun: the latest time or date by which something should be completed

buckle down – phrasal verb: to finish a task with determination

reevaluate – verb: to look or evaluate again

bliss – noun: happiness or joy

insult to injury – idiom: make an already bad situation worse

eatery – noun: a restaurant or other place where people can be served food

window shopping – noun: just looking at products or items in stores without the intentions to buy

purpose -noun: the reason for which something is done

identity – noun: who or what a person or thing is

responsibilities – noun: a role, job or obligation

priorities – noun: most important

Question ( s ):

Have you found yourself on autopilot?

Do you feel as if you are working to pay bills and not enjoying life?

What hobbies or activity can you start to break up the daily grind?

Charlie, A Boy, A Man, My Dad

silhouette of a man during sunset

( Intermediate Level )

Author’s note: “Those who follow me know my writing is completely fiction derived from life circumstances. Today’s story is true and dedicated to my father who passed less than a week ago. The raw emotions that well up inside you at that moment are sometimes difficult to express. I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you, my readers.”

As my dad walks towards his final resting place, those of us left behind mourn his passing. I reflect on the moments we shared together…

Those heated arguments I had with him as a teenager. I know he wanted the best for me but at the time, I felt he was unfair.

I reflect on the many times I laughed at him when his temper got the best of him. When he saw I was laughing at him it made him even madder…

Great memories!

But most of all, I think of those three tiny words I should have said more often, “Ï love you, Dad.”

My mom said , “He knew.” Still, there isn’t a reason why I hadn’t said it more often.

I told myself over and over again that I wouldn’t grow up to be like my dad. Guess what?

I did.”

I hear myself saying words that he said to me saying them to others. I take a step back and gasp, “Oh, I sound just like my dad!

I was told I was just like him in many ways but truth be told I didn’t believe it. I thought everyone was crazy until I got older…

Yes, I am just like my father.

A great portion of his life was spent in a group home. His life was filled with many obstacles that any young person shouldn’t have to experience.

He kept private, in these matters so honestly, I do not know much about his past. Maybe it was his way of protecting the ones around him, or not wanting sympathy, or it was a way to forget the past…

I will never know. Maybe I should have asked more questions.

When my mom told me he wanted comfort care only, I said, “He needed to fight. Tell him! Tell him to fight! He shouldn’t give up!”

I swore. It was my only response to him saying this .Of course, my mom told my dad I said, “$*#^(@@$&,” and she could see him smile behind the oxygen mask.

Once I was told of his choice of comfort care only he left this world within hours.. It was as if he wanted me to know and somehow be ok with it.

How unfair was it of me to ask such a thing? Ask him not to give up. Just for me. Because I wasn’t ready. Ready for him to go.”

He didn’t want machines keeping his body going. He somehow found peace by wanting to leave this world. He wanted his dignity and to go without suffering.

He did just this. He is at peace now and will be missed…

“I love you.”

Written By: Angel

Thoughts From Angel:

In loving memory of my father,

Until we meet again……

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Vocabulary:

mourn – verb: feeling of deep sadness or sorrow

reflect – verb: think deeply or carefully

heated – adjective: conviction

truth be told – idiom: truth or real facts spoken

obstacles noun: blocks or blocks or hinders progress

sympathy – noun: sharing feelings of sadness

comfort care – noun:  a form of medical care that focuses on relieving symptoms and optimizing comfort 

unfair – adjective: unreasonable

dignity -noun: sense of pride

suffering – noun: pain or distress

Question ( s ):

No questions this week. Just a time to reflect……..Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to share my thoughts.

Grandpa Dragonfly

( Intermediate Level )

Every weekend little Beth spent the weekends at her grandparent’s 5-acre farm. This was a special time for her. They had a simple house with a few farm animals.

Friday night Grandpa would drive into the city to pick up his granddaughter from school and stop by the ice cream shop to get a vanilla shake that they would share.

“Don’t tell grandma. She will be mad at me for spoiling your dinner. This is our little secret.” Beth would smile. She knew Grandma had figured out, months back, what those two were up to.

Grandpa had surprised her with her own little pony one year. Beth would ride for hours. Using her imagination when she rode. Exploring foreign lands and discovering new civilizations.

Her grandparents had a small pond on their farm. Grandpa had stocked it with a few turtles and fish. Every now and then he would go fishing for that night’s dinner.

Beth would sit on the bench under the tree and just watch. She enjoyed watching the butterflies, frogs, and dragonflies.

Everyone loves butterflies but she had a fondness for the dragonflies. Some were red. Some were orange. And some had no special color at all. They were almost translucent.

We can use those dragonflies for bait. They might help us catch a big fish.’ her grandfather mentioned as he watched his granddaughter .”No Grandpa, they are much too beautiful for a fish to eat.”

Weekends after weekends, summers after summers, never fail, Beth could be found at her grandparent’s. It saddened her that once she started at the university she couldn’t spend as much time there.

Although she couldn’t visit often she made sure to call them at least once a week.” Your grandfather and I know your studies are important. Don’t you worry about us. We will see you on Christmas and spring break.”

Beth was majoring in agricultural business with a minor in animal science. One day she hoped to do research regarding sustainability. Possibly collaborating with others from around the world. Her grandfather was proud of her choice.

Her grandfather believed we should keep the earth the way it was meant to be. “Why do we abuse it so?” he would ask. He never had an answer.

One day when your grandmother and I pass, this small farm will be yours, if you want it. I hope you do.” Logically the farm was well outside the city and once she started her career she knew it would be a commute back and forth but she knew how much it meant to them. “Of course Grandpa. This is home to me as well.”

The years have passed, and the cycle of life moves on. Beth graduated from the university and she started her career as a professor at the same university she graduated from.

Her grandparents were gone now and she moved, as promised, to the farm. She spent much of her free time outdoors tending to the grounds as her grandfather did. He never used pesticides and fed his animals’ organic feed.

“If we are going to eat what we grow or raise, I want it free from everything. We do not need chemicals inside us.” Beth never really understood this concept until she was much older.

Some days were difficult for Beth. Keeping up with her work, research, and the farm. They were related to each other in a way.

She always kept in mind the three pillars of sustainability. Economics, society, and the environment. The data gathered from the farm was valuable in her research.

Could these methods be done on a much larger scale? This was her biggest question to answer. She needed to somehow prove this in her paper.

Many evenings she could be found sitting on the bench by the pond her grandfather started. She was amazed at what her grandfather had accomplished knowing he hadn’t finished high school.

Somehow he knew simple was best. This was evident in the way he lived his life. Sure, maybe it was out of necessity but you never heard him nor her grandmother complain.

One evening, Beth noticed something different. She noticed a beautiful tri-colored dragonfly. It was deep blue, black, and had a turquoise body. Never had she seen such a beautiful dragonfly around here before. The ones she remembers were not as vibrant in colors.

It seemed to appear on those days when she felt frustrated and sat by the pond in deep thoughts. Was this a sign for her? Could this be, somehow, a sign from her grandfather?

Oddly enough, Beth found herself looking for Grandpa Dragonfly, as she named him, each time she sat by the pond.

Out of nowhere, he would appear and just sit there as if he was listening. She would share her day with him. She felt silly at times talking to this dragonfly but she didn’t care. It helped her stay focused on what is important to her and what was important to her grandfather.

She eventually completed her research paper with acknowledgement from colleagues and researchers worldwide. She wanted to share this news with the mysterious dragonfly but he was never to be seen again.

He seemed to have arrived into Beth’s life when he was needed the most and then unexpectedly left. Miracles come when you least expect them. In this case, a dragonfly.

Beth continues to expand on her research and can still be found sitting on the bench by the pond, hoping one day to catch a glimpse of Grandpa Dragonfly.

Written By; Angel

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Twitter: AngelOfTheMorn5

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Thoughts From Angel:

There are so many unexplained things that happen in our lives. Are they miracles? Or just a coincidence? No one knows. If it brings comfort , as it did for Beth, then let it be.

I also have a fond childhood memory of dragonflies.

If you appreciate what I do:

Vocabulary:

spoiling your dinner – phrasal verb: to decrease your appetite

imagination– noun: creative

fondness – noun: affection

translucent – adjective: semitransparent

sustainability– noun: avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance

collaborating – verb: work jointly on an activity

logically– adverb: sound reasoning

commute – verb: travel some distance between one place and another often place

cycle of life -noun: changes in life from birth to death

pesticides – noun: a substance used for destroying insects

organic – adjective: without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents

research– noun: investigation

methods– noun: procedures

evident – adjective: obvious

necessity – noun: need

tri-colored – adjective: having three colors

vibrant– adjective: brilliant

focused – verb : pay attention

acknowledgement – noun: acceptance of the truth or existence of something

unexpectedly – adverb: not expected 

glimpse – noun: a momentary or partial view

Question ( s ):

How important is the environment to you?

Do you believe in miracles? or something you may not be able to explain logically?

Culpability

woman sitting on wooden planks

( Intermediate Level )

Melissa has taken full blame for what happened to her younger brother Frank. He, as any younger brother would do, bugged her to let him tag along with her and her friend to the lake to swim.

She should’ve said no. She should have told him he was too young and she didn’t have time to watch over him. She should have but she didn’t. Now she lives with the guilt.

The guilt that would eat her up inside. The guilt that her parents separated shortly after her brother, Frank, drowned.

Nothing will change what happened but maybe she could make a difference . Somehow. Some way.

Melissa would sit hours ,at the lake, talking to her brother, as if he could hear her. “Frank, I miss you. I miss you annoying me to watch something on TV fully knowing I was deeply interested in what I was watching.”

Mom and Dad aren’t together anymore. Dad is having a terrible time dealing with the fact he lost you. Mom stays to herself and barely talks to me. I only have you ,kiddo. Are you upset with me too?”

She knew she wouldn’t hear an answer. It made her feel better just being there. Her schoolwork suffered and her friends gave up trying to talk or come over.

That day keeps playing in her head over and over again. “Melissa….help…help….” Each scream she had ignored him thinking he was goofing around.

Little did she know he had gone into the water while her and her friends were up by the car listening to music. He went out a little too far where he couldn’t touch the bottom. He panicked.

He was told not to go into the water when she wasn’t there to watch him. Like usual he hadn’t listened. She should have been more responsible.

Years had passed and Melissa moved away to attend college. Somehow, she managed to get through school. Her high school years were a big blur.

Once a year she returns home on the anniversary of her little brother’s death. She sits on the docks and fills her brother in on all she had done over the past year.

The hurt she felt has subsided to a dull pang in her heart now. Her mother has forgiven her for not being more responsible that day.

Her dad, also, had moved back home after a year. Each needed their time and way to heal. Melissa, too, had chosen to volunteer at the local YMCA giving swimming lessons to the youth.

She told her brother once at one of her visits, “See Frank, good things can come out of bad. Mom and dad are closer than they have ever been.

“I am getting stronger as the years pass. I tell the kids that little brothers or sisters can be a pain but you are lucky to have them. I miss you Frank. “

Written By: Angel

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Twitter: AngelOfTheMorn5

Meta Business Suite: Angel’s Thoughts to Pen

Thoughts From Angel:

Guilt will consume every ounce of your being. To heal you must forgive yourself. Forgiving is not forgetting, it is just a vessel to move forward.

If you appreciate what I do:

Vocabulary:

tag along – verb: to follow another

eat her up – idiom: to bother or be obsessed

goofing– verb: spend time idly or foolishly

responsible – adjective: obligation

blur – noun: unclear

anniversary – noun: the date on which an event took place

subsided – verb: become less intense

pang – noun: painful emotion

volunteer – verb: freely offer to do something

Question ( s ):

Was Melissa responsible for her younger brother’s death?

Do you believe time heals all wounds?

Should Melissa forgive herself?

Voices

( Intermediate Level )

At a very early age, Matthew saw things and heard things that others could not. He explained this to his mom and she shrugged it off as having a vivid imagination.

He, too, believed this until he couldn’t ignore it any longer. The voices grew louder and fleeting images appeared. He never feared them. He just didn’t understand why others couldn’t.

It wasn’t until his early twenties that he realized he had a gift and he wasn’t crazy. He kept hearing a man’s voice saying the same thing over and over again when he passed by the corner restaurant.

“Tell her I am ok and I will always be here for you. Tell her this.” Every day no matter what time of the day it was. He finally decided to listen.

Matthew walked into the restaurant and sat at a table. A waitress came and gave her a menu. He was unsure how to start or what to say to her.

Can I get you something to drink?”

Yes. Can I get a vanilla shake?” “Sure, I will be back shortly.” As Matthew sat looking around at the other occupants the voice began again. “Tell her.”

The waitress returned with his shake. “Have you decided on what you’d like to order?” She said as she placed the shake in front of him. “Ma’am, You are going to think I am crazy but please hear me out.”

He looked at her and smiled. “I was told, no demanded, to give you this message. I don’t know who it is specifically but he seems to know you.

Mathew swallowed and began, “Tell her I am ok and I will always be here for you.”The waitress, Julie as her name tag read, was shaken. “Who? Who said he would always be here for me?”

Matthew tried to explain. He told of his experiences in his early childhood to the waitress as she stood hanging on every word he said. He explained, “He has never given me a name and I saw him one time in my mind.”

At that exact moment, he heard that same voice but louder “Tell her it’s her dad. Gary. Gary Richard Brown.” The waitress dropped to her knees.

Gary Richard Brown was her father who had passed away 8 weeks ago. He lost his battle to uncontrolled diabetes.

“Julie, are you ok?” She told him who Gary was and that he had passed. This was a validation to Matthew that he wasn’t crazy. Somehow he was able to hear and see things.

Word had traveled fast in his neighborhood. He was said to be a miracle. He simply explained he was a conduit for those who left this world.

Of course, he was under the watchful eye of those nonbelievers but he continued to do what he did. He never tried to bring attention to himself.

He answered requests for private sessions. He chose not to have any further contact with those who requested a reading until the actual meeting. This way skeptics couldn’t say he was a fake.

Matthew and Julie kept in touch. He would stop by the restaurant at least once a week for a milkshake and a conversation.

Julie was the only one he could talk to about other regular events or things. They would sit for hours talking about their dreams and goals in life. Once in a while, they would catch a movie together.

Matthew never knew why he had this gift. He knew it was important to share these messages with those who were intended to receive them.

He didn’t need to prove anything. He was just their voices. Voices he heard and needed to be heard.

Written by: Angel

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Twitter: AngelOfTheMorn5

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Special note from the author: “I believe if it helps someone move on in their life or have closure, this is what truly counts. Skeptics will be skeptics and believers will be believers. This is their choice. Should we question this? Losing someone or not being able to say good bye can play havoc with your emotions.” – Angel

Vocabulary:

shrugged -verb: dismiss something as unimportant

vivid – adjective: powerful feelings or strong, clear images in the mind

imagination – noun: be creative or resourceful

fleeting -adjective: brief or short

gift – noun: natural ability or talent

hear me out -phrasal verb: to listen to

demanded – verb: insist or require

specifically – adverb:  a way that is exact and clear

hanging on every word – idiom: to listen very carefully or closely to 

diabetes – noun: a disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired

validation – noun: affirmation or approving

miracle – noun: extraordinary

conduit – noun: a channel

watchful eye – idiom: supervise or to watch (someone or something) closely

nonbelievers – noun: a person who does not believe in something

skeptics – noun: a person inclined to question or doubt

fake – noun: not genuine

Question ( s ):

Do you believe someone can speak to those who have passed away? Or are you a nonbeliever?

Have you ever had your fortune told?

How can you explain what a medium does?

Heart of Gold

bed empty equipments floor

( Intermediate Level )

Billy Ray looks back at his life, as he lies in the hospital bed awaiting a donor’s heart. “Why him?” he asks himself. He wasn’t the nicest person in life. He wasn’t successful. He was unmarried and recently lost his job due to his illness.

He knew that by receiving a heart another lost his or her life. How unfortunate for that individual but for him it meant a second chance.

He waited nearly two years for a donor. When he gave up all hope he received the long past due phone call. ” Mr. Gambino this is Nurse Smith. Dr. Abraham asked me to call you.”

“Please immediately come into Clark County Hospital. We have a donor heart for you. It will be here within the hour. We need to prep you for surgery. Do you understand Mr. Gambino? We finally have a donor heart for you.”

He arrived at the hospital within thirty minutes. He changed into a hospital gown and had an IV connected to his arm. He looked around and noticed he had a neighbor in the same room.

In the next bed was a young teenage boy. Billy Ray tried to have small talk with him but he was too frightened to carry on a conversation.

At the age of sixteen, Craig collapsed in PE class. The school sent him directly to the emergency room. His parents were notified to go to the hospital.

The doctors ran a battery of tests upon arrival. “Unfortunately, your son has a very weak heart. We call it hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. It usually shows earlier signs.”

He, too, received the same good news Billy Ray did. “Please get to the hospital as soon as you can. We have a heart for your son.”

As the two lay in their hospital beds the sounds of nurses bustling around. Every so often they came in to take vital signs of each. Asked how they were doing and offered ice chips. “It wouldn’t be much longer,” they would say on the way out the door.

Nearly one hour passed. Dr. Abraham came into the room. “Hello, gentlemen. Today is your lucky day. I and Dr. Ingram will orchestrate your surgeries.”

“We have received the donor’s hearts and everything looks perfect. The nurses will be in shortly and get you ready. You will wake up with a new lease on life.”

The doctor left the room and the two looked at each other. “See you again soon buddy. I will be waiting for you.” At that moment the nurses came in and ushered each in their hospital beds to the surgery rooms number one and two.

“Mr. Gambino, just relax and take deep breaths and count backward from ten. You will wake up in four to six hours with a new heart beating inside you.”

The same thing was happening in the next surgery room. Craig was a little more nervous. His parents said they’d be just outside waiting for him.

We love you” was the last words he heard from his parents. He started counting. “Ten, nine, eight, seven… ”

Each of their surgeries went off without any complications. They would wake up, in recovery, next to each other. Mr. Gambino’s took a little longer. Dr. Abraham had to massage the donor heart to have it begin to beat in its new recipient.

Each of the respective doctors came in to see their patient before they headed home for the night. Tomorrow Dr. Abraham would read a letter to each of them written by the husband and father of the donors.

They rested comfortably during the night. The nurses took turns taking vital signs. It was of great help having both in the ICU.

“Good morning, the doctors both agreed if you are up to it, we will set you up and you can try to eat a light breakfast. They will be in sometime this morning to see you.”

“Craig, your parents will be here in about forty-five minutes. They called earlier to see how you were doing. They stayed quite late and we sent them home to get some rest.”

Breakfast was finished by the time Craig’s parents arrived. Mom gave her son a huge hug and kiss. Unlike most teens, Craig hadn’t pulled away. He actually felt comfortable having his parents there.

Billy Ray had not one person call or show up to see him. He had pushed most away in the years past. He used to have friends and a girlfriend. One by one he eliminated them from his life. Why keep them around if he was going to die soon.

Dr. Abraham arrived just before noon. He looked over their charts and told each of them, “Everything looks wonderful. If this progress continues we can let you go home within the week, of course with limitations.”

One more thing. I was asked to read this letter to both of you afterward. The donors were a mother and daughter who died in a terrible car accident where they both perished. It was the husband who signed the consent to donate their organs.”

He reached into his doctor’s coat inside pocket and took the letter out of its envelope. This would be the first time he would read it. He promised the husband he would read it so now he follows his wish.

“This is very unusual and I have never had to do this before. I saw how important this was to him so I gave my word I would read this to you both.”

He began to read,” I never, in my wildest of dreams, thought I would be writing such a letter. This is not how life should be. Saying goodbye to my wife and my precious daughter.”

“Actually, I do not feel as if I am saying goodbye but, in some strange way, I feel as if I will be saying, hello “

I want to tell you a little about my wife first. She was a magnificent woman. She had a huge heart filled with love for everyone and everything. She never complained and was always willing to lend a helping hand.”

“My daughter was a curious one. She always asked tons of questions wanting to know how everything worked. She was eager to learn new things and loved to sing and dance.”

“As a matter of fact, they were on their way to dance practice when they had the unfortunate accident that ended both their lives.”

“I gave my consent to donate their organs in hopes that their spirits would live on inside the body of others who needed them the most.”

” For those who receive their hearts, I want you to know you have received hearts of gold. Filled with goodness and kindness. You were given a second chance to live. Please, treat them well.”

The doctor carefully folded the letter and returned it to its envelope. He looked up to see Billy Ray burying his face in his hands.

He finally knew what it feels like to love so much and to sacrifice more than he could ever imagine. From this day forward he would not live in self-pity.

He hoped to reunite with his friends and most of all his girlfriend who never stopped loving him.

Craig knew he would not be like others his age. He knew, though, he had a second chance to live life to its fullest.

Written By: Angel

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Instagram: morningangel847

Twitter: AngelOfTheMorn5

If you appreciate what I do:

Vocabulary:

donor – adjective: the act of donating something. For example money, organ or time

unfortunate – adjective: bad luck or unlucky

small talk – noun: a conversation about unimportant or matters

hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – noun: a disease in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick

bustling – adjective: moving in an energetic and busy manner

vital signs – noun: measurements of the body’s most basic functions

orchestrate – verb: arrange

new lease on life -phrase: continue living

ushered – verb: to show or guide

backward – adverb: opposite or forward

nervous – adjective: tending to be anxious

complications – noun: complicates, difficulty

recipient noun: a person or thing that receives something

respective – adjective: belonging or relating

ICU – noun: intensive care unit at a hospital where patients are needing around the clock care

limitations – noun: restrictions

afterward – adverb: later

perished – verb: suffered death

precious – adjective: of great value

magnificent – adjective: impressive

curious – adjective: eager to know or learn something

heart (s ) of gold – idiom: a kind and generous disposition 

burying – verb: to hide

sacrifice – verb: to give or offer

self-pity – noun:  self-absorbed unhappiness 

reunite – verb: come together again

Question ( s ):

Have you or anyone you know signed up to be an organ donor?

Do you know anyone who is on a list to receive a donor organ?

Love Letters and The Book

( Intermediate Level )

While Arthur was away on deployment, he made a promise to Evelyn. He would write as often as he could to her. He would gist with her saying. “I don’t want my best gal to forget who I am.”

Arthur kept to his word. The letters would come on a regular basis. This let Evelyn know her husband was still alive.

The mailman looked out for these letters, too. He knew she anxiously awaited word from him. If she wasn’t outside waiting for the mail, he would take a few extra steps to hand-deliver the letter to her. Walking to her door and knocked.

She would read each letter over and over again until the next one came. This went on for two and a half years until he returned to her arms.

He made fun of her when she showed him she had kept all his letters neatly folded in their envelopes, tied in a red ribbon. “I am home now and safe. You can get rid of those silly old letters. You have the real me.”

“I will do no such things Arthur Munsee. Those are my letters and I will keep them forever. Tucked in the last book we read together before you were deployed.”

When Arthur had passed away, Evelyn kept his love letters to her safely tucked in a book they read She remembers how each would take their turn reading a chapter or two to each other, in the evenings.

Evelyn eventually had to move into a nursing home. Her daughter Elizabeth had a family and a busy career where she didn’t have time to care for her.

Evelyn took only a few belongings with her when she went. Her daughter would close up the house and take the items her mom requested to her in the facility. It was difficult moving into such a place but she knew it was for the best.

The house was left to Elizabeth’s daughter, Emma. Evelyn knew her own daughter would not give up her home and moved back to her hometown. Maybe her granddaughter would love to start her adult life in a small town.

She will graduate from the university this year and start her new independent life. She could certainly move into what was now her home and search for employment.

As Evelyn went through the packages her daughter brought from home she was missing the most important things to her. Her love letters from Arthur and the book. This is what kept Arthur’s memories alive for her. They were nowhere to be found.

Evelyn called her daughter regarding these missing items. “Mom, I couldn’t find them. I searched. The place where you mentioned but they weren’t there. I will look one more time before I head to the airport. If I find them I will surely bring them to you.”

“Emma will be coming in spring. I can have her look also. I am sure If I cannot find it she can. I am sorry, Mom, but I have limited time .”

Much to her dismay, there was nothing Elizabeth could do about the letters or the book now. She must wait until spring when Emma visits.

The nights were chilly so she kept her mind busy playing cards or helping on a jigsaw puzzle in the common area. Every now and then, she tried to pick up a book to read but it just reminded her of the one missing.

“Elizabeth, you have a phone call. Would you like to take the call here or I can transfer it to your room. It is your granddaughter Emma,” the duty nurse asked. “In my room, Please.” Elizabeth hurried to her room so she could speak with Emma where it was much quieter.

“Hi, Grandma. I will be heading your way on Friday. I have the keys to the house so I will let myself in. I get in late so I will wait until the morning to visit you. Is there anything you want from the house?”

“I cannot wait to see you! I wish I could have traveled to your graduation. As you know, It is difficult for me to get around now.”

“And yes, please find my book. The one your grandfather and I read each night. I know it is in the house somewhere. Inside there are all his letters to me.”

“Ok, Grandma. I will look for you before I come to see you on Saturday. I love you and I will see you very soon. Hugs and kisses.”

Evelyn hung up with her granddaughter and sat there looking at the phone. Some felt her obsession with these letters and the d book were a bit too much. For her, it was much more. She couldn’t explain why to anyone other than it was a memory she wanted to hold onto.

The week moved along slowly. Evelyn spent time sitting outside during the day, soaking up the sun and enjoying nature. She watched a family of hummingbirds frequent the feeders. Each took their turn sucking up the sweet nectar it offered.

She noticed she hadn’t felt herself lately. She tired more easily and her appetite decreased. She chalked this up to the worry of finding the letters.

Emma arrived at, what is now called her home, around half past eleven in the evening. It was an exhausting day for her. She told her mom before she left she was unsure when or if she would come back.

As a newly graduated young adult, she felt it would be a great opportunity to seek work. She wouldn’t have to pay rent since her grandmother left the house for her. She wouldn’t have that worry.

Her mom had done a wonderful job at closing up the house. All the furniture was draped in sheets and all the windows were locked. She called ahead to have the electricity on when she arrived. She found the bedroom that her grandparents had once shared. She pulled off the covering and quickly fell asleep.

Evelyn, on the other hand, was still awake at one in the morning. She had a restless night so she sat at her table playing games of solitaire. She played, what seemed, hundreds of games before she felt tired enough to sleep.

Emma woke at six in the morning. She searched the kitchen for coffee which she eventually found. She never ate breakfast but today she realized she was hungry. She decided to shower and get ready to leave a little earlier to see her grandmother so she could stop to have a bite to eat at the local restaurant.

After her shower, she moseyed around the house. Looking at old pictures on the walls and uncovering the furniture. she marveled at how well kept everything was. Her grandparents had exquisite taste in everything they had.

She dressed and started looking for the book her grandmother spoke of. She knew these items were of great importance to her. She looked and looked for what seemed forever.

The very last place she looked was the bedroom closet in which she stayed the night before. Tucked on the top shelf she saw an overstuffed book with a neatly tied red ribbon around it.

As she pulled it down, she realized this was what was so precious to her grandmother. It was the book and the letters she treasured so much. Her grandmother would be happy to see them once again.

She placed the bundle on the kitchen table and finished getting ready. She couldn’t wait to share this wonderful news and see her grandmother’s face when she delivered it to her.

She was about ready to leave when she noticed she had forgotten her cell phone. She remembered she sat it on the bedside table after turning it silent. She wanted to get a good night’s sleep.

Her cell phone was just where she put it the night before. As she retrieved it she noticed she had several missed calls from her mother. She thought to herself her mother was worried and wanted to make sure she arrived safely.

She listened to the voice mails. Her mother’s last voicemail sounded urgent. “Emma, please call me immediately when you hear this. It is very important that you speak to me as soon as possible.”.

As she walked back into the kitchen, she dialed her mom, “I was so tired when I arrived last night I fell asleep before I called you. I am sorry I worried you.”

There was silence. “Mom? Are you ok? Mom?” Her mother cleared her voice. “Emma, Grandma is gone. She passed. The nurses called me just a few hours ago.”

“Apparently, she had a rough night and couldn’t sleep. When she finally laid down it was about three in the morning. The nurses didn’t see her at breakfast so they checked on her. This is when they found her.

“Oh Mom, I should have gone to see her last night. Even if it was for a brief moment or two. This morning I found her book and her letters. Now, she will never know I found them .”

” I will be catching the earliest flight I can to help make the arrangements. I am so sorry that I had to tell you over the phone. I will see you soon.”

Emma hung up the phone and sat at the table staring at the book neatly wrapped in its red ribbon. She found herself untying the ribbon to get to the letters. Why were these so important to her grandmother?

She carefully unfolded each letter, careful not to damage any in the process. The tears ran down her cheeks as she read through them, one by one.

The pure love that her grandfather had for her grandmother was read in each stroke of his pen. How lucky she was to have experienced such love like this.

Written By: Angel

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Vocabulary:

deployment – noun: movement of military troops

gist – verb: engage in chat

anxiously – adverb: eager

passed away – phrasal verb: die

close up – phrasal verb: to lock all doors and secure a building/ home

facility – noun: a place

independent – adjective: not depending on another for livelihood

employment – noun: paid work

regarding – preposition: with respect to

dismay – noun: distress

common area – noun: property available for use for all tenants

transfer – verb: an act of moving something or someone to another place

obsession – noun:  idea or thought that continually preoccupies a person’s mind

soaking up – phrasal verb: to absorb  or enjoy something that is around you

sucking – verb: the act of feeding/nursing

chalked – verb: that all hope is lost

exhausting – adjective: the feeling of being very tired

moseyed – verb: walk or move in a leisurely

exquisite – adjective: extremely beautiful

overstuffed – adjective:  stuffed or filled to excess 

precious – adjective: of great value

urgent – adjective: immediate action

arrangements – noun: plans or preparations

Question ( s ):

Do you have a possession that is precious to you that you’ve held onto?

Do you think Evelyn passed away due to grief of not having her letters?

Second Chance

( Advanced Level )

Joshua sits, waiting for his parole officer, reflecting on his choices as a youth. How the choices he made went terribly wrong. Ended up being incarcerated at the young age of fourteen.

Now he has the opportunity, to not undo the past, but to keep others from making the same choices as he did.

His release came a little earlier than expected. He had made a deal with the powers that be. Two and a half years shaved off his sentence if he agreed to be a mentor or a big brother figure for young adolescents in his neighborhood.

John, who has been a parole officer for over sixteen years, was on his way to pick up Joshua. He is all too familiar with the troubled youth of his city. Most came from single parent homes or born into families of crime.

He always told himself it was a vicious circle you cannot get out of. You need money and opportunities to succeed. Not many were given chances so they resorted to a life of crime. From petty theft to sale of drugs.

Upon arriving, John saw a very scared young man now. Not the cocky overconfident teenager who sat before him years ago. Something changes when you are sent to jail. You go into survival mode.

“Are you ready?” Joshua looked up. “Yeah I guess. I don’t know what they expect from me or what I should do.”

“Just be yourself and be honest. If the kids ask questions, be truthful. Let them know it is not worth it. Be their friend. Be their big brother. Some don’t have people who care about them.

The car ride to the city youth center was quiet. Both Joshua and John lost in their thoughts. John was familiar with Joshua’s plight. His father left his mom, Evelyn, when he was seven.

She struggled with raising him alone. She wanted to leave the neighborhood to raise her son in a better environment but it never worked out.

Unfortunately, Joshua got caught up in life on the streets. Initially he wanted to earn extra money so his mother didn’t have to work so hard. He hated seeing his mom work twelve to fourteen hours a day to come home exhausted.

Selling drugs was the easiest answer for quick money. He was told to go to certain locations each time he took a job and the customers came to him. In the end he was apprehended and incarcerated.

Nearly forty-five minutes passed and the two pulled into a parking lot stopping in front of a small building where plywood covered openings, what were once windows. “Okay. We’re here.”

It had been awhile since Joshua had seen the old neighborhood. He was shocked to see how much more run down it looked. He let out a tremendous sigh and got out of the car.

John stood waiting for Joshua and ushered him to go ahead of him. As the two approached the door a group of younger kids ran out and gave him a hug. “Hi, Officer John,” they chanted one by one.

Whenever John had spare time he spent at this makeshift youth center. He played basketball and other activities with the kids. It gave the kids a chance to get off the streets and the temptations in the area that may lead to a life of crime.

The building didn’t have much inside. Whatever sports equipment or supplies they had were from John. He would set aside money each month to buy something new.

Sometimes the building was broken into and everything was taken. This never discouraged him from continuing on with what he did.

“Guys, I brought a friend with me today. He will be helping me here for a while. Everyone say hi to Joshua.”

“Hi, Joshua.” The oldest and tallest kid of the group, Seth, grabbed his hand. “Let’s go play basketball. I’ve been practicing my shots. I hope one day to play for the high school team, like my brother did.”

“He died before he graduated. My mom doesn’t want me to be stupid like my brother so I come here everyday after school and on weekends.”

Joshua thought to himself how matter-of-fact Seth said this. He could have ended up like Seth’s brother. It was a good thing he was caught. It was hard enough knowing what he put his mom through. She had raised him better.

“Sure, but let’s involve everyone. You be one captain and I will be the other. We will pick teams. Officer John will play too.”

John soaked in everything that he saw and heard. This was a great choice he suggested to the judge. He knew he saw something deep inside that tough guy exterior of Joshua’s.

He pleaded with the judge, “This kid deserves a chance. His mother raised him alone for years by herself. He was young and dumb. I see something in him that I hadn’t seen in others. Let him out on early release .”

“I will mentor him and keep an eye on him. He can, also, help me at the youth center. It seems I am getting more and more kids and it is difficult somedays to manage all of them.”

He was pleasantly surprised when the judge agreed. “I believe you know him better than me John. He will be under your supervision for two and a half years. It will be his parole stipulations.

As the months passed by, Joshua found himself enjoying going to the center. Sometimes catching an earlier bus so John didn’t have to go out of his way to pick him up at his house.

He spoke to the kids quite openly about what he did and how he was arrested. He hoped this would keep others from making the same mistakes he made.

“There isn’t any reason to disrespect your mother or father, most of all yourself. If you want something, earn it don’t steal it. If it seems too easy then you are doing it the wrong way and it is probably against the law.”

Learn from me guys. I thought I was tough. I was on top of the world. Well guess what? I was scared. I cried many nights in jail.”

” How could I have let my mom down the way I did. I needed to survive so I could see her again. She never stopped loving me. She was just disappointed in my choices. I am always here to talk to if you want,” as he looked around at all the kids’ faces.

John, eventually, retired from the police force and would, occasionally, show up at the youth center. It is now, Joshua, who looks after the neighborhood kids. Giving them a safe place to hang out.

The youth center was unofficially named John’s Center for Kids. After all, it was he who started it. Maybe, sometime in the future, they would be able to have a new youth center with all the equipment needed.

One day, he too, could give someone a second chance as John gave him. John’s legacy would live on through all the kids who were given a safe place to play and not worry about temptations of the streets.


Written By: Angel

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Twitter: AngelOfTheMorn5

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Vocabulary:

reflecting – verb: think deeply or carefully 

incarcerated – verb: imprison or confine

powers that be – noun: the authorities

shaved – verb: to cut off or crop

mentor – verb: advise or train 

parole officer – noun : officials appointed to supervise the conduct of convicted offenders on probation

vicious – adjective: brutal, non ending

resorted – verb: turn to

petty theft – noun: non violent crime

cocky – adjective: arrogant

plight – noun: a difficult or unfortunate situation

struggled – verb: forceful effort

exhausted – adjective: very tired

apprehended – verb: arrest

run down – phrasal verb: in bad shape, old

tremendous – adjective: huge

ushered – verb: show or guide

makeshift – adjective: temporary

discouraged – adjective: lost confidence or enthusiasm

matter-of-fact – adjective: unemotional

exterior – adjective: outside of something

stipulations – noun: condition or requirement

disappointed – adjective: sad or unhappy

retired – adjective: stopped working

unofficially – adverb: not official or confirmed

legacy – noun: heritage, gift

Question ( s ):

Have you ever given anyone a second chance? Why?

Obviously, Joshua learned from his mistakes as a youth. Do you know anyone who made a mistake and learned from their mistake?

Grafted

green tree photo

( Intermediate Level )

Can you imagine searching your family tree to discover your branch was broken? Does the trail just stop? You are not connected to anyone? Or are you?

Recently, Ryan’s history teacher assigned the students to illustrate their family tree. “The world is a big soup pot. Let’s see how many families originated in another country, and when or if they emigrated here.”

Try to go back as far as you can. Tell us the colors of eyes and hair in your family. Who looks like who. It will be fun to hear your stories!”

Ryan was very excited. He knew his family tree would be immense since he had such a large family. He wanted to use the largest paper he could find to make his tree.

To impress his teacher, he drew a large tree with roots running deep into the earth, signifying the strength of his family.

Both his parents had four siblings each, who married and had children, and as far as he could count, providing he hadn’t forgotten anyone, he had twenty-seven cousins.

He had a few days to complete this assignment so he took his time. He did as much as he could with the information he knew then asked his mom for help with the rest.

Ryan found his mom cooking dinner for the family. His sister was doing her homework at the table and his brother had finished his. He was in the living room watching television.

Mom, I will need your help filling in areas on our family tree. When you have time, can you help?”

Mary was a bit hesitant in answering. She looked at him then quickly looked away, pretending she had to keep her eyes on what she was doing.

“Yes, of course. Tonight I still have a few things still to do so how about tomorrow, after dinner? After your dad comes home. What I cannot remember he may remember.”

“Sure. It is not due until Friday so I have another two days. Thanks.” He turned and headed into the living room to watch TV with his brother.

Mary was deep in her thoughts that she hadn’t heard Bob come home. She knew this day would come eventually. She and her husband never told Ryan he was adopted.

They felt at the time it would be easier for him to understand what adoption meant when he was older.

When Mary and Bob married and wanted to start a family they had difficulties. The doctors told them that Mary had only one ovary producing eggs so the likelihood of getting pregnant decreased dramatically.

After four years of trying and wanting a family, they adopted Ryan. He brought so much joy to their life. To Mary’s surprise, she did get pregnant two years after the adoption of Ryan and then again after one year.

All the children were treated the same. It never made a difference to either of them that one had been adopted. Ryan was theirs just as much as their biological children.

After the children went to bed, Mary spoke to Bob about the class project. He sat there listening to Mary’s concerns. “Maybe we should have told him earlier,” she told Bob.

“Mary, Ryan is a smart boy. He knows we love him and so does his brother and sister. I think he will be fine. We never showed any favoritism between them. So tomorrow after dinner, we will sit down with him and help him with his class project and explain why we cannot fill in some areas of his tree.”

That night Mary barely slept. She was worried that her son would be crushed. Finding out his family is not really his family. Would he hate her for not telling him sooner?

The children headed to school on the bus. Bob was about to leave and he turned to Mary, “Honey, it will be ok. Promise. I know you didn’t get much sleep last night so try to rest today. I will be home tonight as quickly as I can and we will sit down together to speak with Ryan.”

The day passed quickly and the children were home. “We are going to have an early dinner tonight. Your dad and I will help Ryan with his project. Don’t eat too many snacks and spoil your dinner.”

Dinner was uneventful as the children had other ideas on their minds. Ryan’s mind was on finishing his class project whereas his siblings had finished their homework and could watch television.

Mom cleared the table and put away the leftovers while Ryan went to his room to gather his project. Mary took a deep breath and looked at her husband.

Ryan came running into the kitchen and set his colored pencils and his neatly rolled-up project. He unrolled his masterpiece and held the four ends down with clean coffee mugs.

“Here it is!” showing his work to his parents. ” He looked up at his dad and said, “Dad who in our family has red hair and hazel eyes like me? I remember many names and filled in many areas but no one has my colored hair. I don’t think anyone on Mom’s side has red hair. “

Bob looked up at Mary and saw she was upset so he began,” Well Ryan, you are the only one in our family who has red hair and those beautiful hazel eyes. you are unique in this respect.” He smiled at Ryan as he spoke.

Bob sat down next to Ryan knowing his son was excited to get his project done before its due date tomorrow. He put his arm around Ryan as he began to talk.

“Ryan, Mommy, and I wanted to have children and start our family. For some reason we had trouble. So, we decided after a few years to go to a special place where we found you.”

Ryan was confused at this point. He looked at his mom. “A special place? What does this mean? I do not understand.”

Mary, who had stood quietly while her husband tried to explain now spoke up,” Your dad and I love you very much. You are our son from the first moment we held you. You didn’t come from my belly like your brother or sister but you are our son.”

Ryan remembered a movie he watched and said, “Am I adopted?” Mary looked at her son then to Bob, “Yes.” Those words sent a shudder through Mary. She never thought of Ryan as that. He was her son.

Their son quietly sat there absorbing everything that was said. He looked up and smiled. “I remember my science teacher explaining this before. Grafting he called it. This helps the new tree grow faster and develop more quickly.”

“Many farmers use this trick to have the best quality trees on their farms. I guess this is how I became part of your family. I was grafted onto your family tree.”

Mary sat down next to her son and slid her arm around his shoulders. “Yes, I believe you made our family better Ryan.”

Bob glanced at his wife as he sat down at the table across from the two. Mary looked up and he mouthed the words, “I told you.”

As Ryan looked at his project on the table he wanted to show his branch of the tree as being something special and unique.

He began to split one branch and show how he became part of the family. He knew once he gave his presentation to the class he would have to explain what adoption is.

With the help of his parents, his masterpiece was complete. Including his grafted limb. He took the news of himself being adopted well.

Ryan couldn’t wait to share this newly found information with his classmates. To know how special he was and how grateful he is to be part of this family.

Written by: Angel

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https://ko-fi.com/morningangel84721345

Follow me on:

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Twitter: AngelOfTheMorn5

Vocabulary:

illustrate – verb: explain or make (something) clear by using examples, charts, or pictures

originated – verb:  specified beginning

emigrated – verb: leave one’s own country in order to settle permanently in another

immense – adjective: extremely large

signifying – verb: indicating

assignment – noun: a task or piece of work assigned to someone

hesitant – adjective: tentative, unsure, or slow in acting or speaking

pretending – verb: speak and act so as to make it appear that something is true when in fact it is not

deep in her thoughts – adjective: preoccupied by thoughts, thinking very hard

adopted – verb: legally take (another’s child) and bring it up as one’s own

likelihood – noun:  probability

dramatically – adverb: in a way that relates to drama 

biological – adjective: genetically related; related by blood

favoritism – noun: unfair preferential treatment

spoil your dinner – idiom: eating snacks or food before an actual meal

uneventful – adjective: not interesting or exciting

leftovers – noun: something, especially food, remaining after the rest has been used or consumed

unique – adjective: one of a kind

confused – adjective: unable to think clearly or understand

shudder– verb: tremble

absorbing – adjective: intensely interesting; engrossing

grafting – verb: insert (a shoot or twig) as a graft

glanced – verb: take a brief or hurried look

mouthed – verb: saying something in a whisper or no voice

presentation – noun: a speech or talk in which a piece of work is shown and explained to an audience

masterpiece – noun: exceptional art or work

Question ( s ):

Do you know anyone who is adopted?

If so, did they know at an early age?

Do you think it was a good idea to keep the information of adoption from Ryan for so long? Or should his parents have told him?

Just Let Me Sing

( Intermediate Level )

Kathryn was a shy ten-year-old little girl. She didn’t have many friends. Her classmates made fun of her speech impediment. She wouldn’t raise her hand in class to answer questions and she sat alone at lunch just watching her classmates play at recess.

When Kathryn began to talk at the age of two her mother thought her stammer was cute and really didn’t see any reason to be concerned. The doctors told her not to worry. “Many children go through this stage when learning to talk.” Once she got a little older they would reexamine the situation.

It wasn’t until she started school that she noticed her daughter’s stammer became more pronounced. By this time Kathryn’s personality changed. She used to be an inquisitive learner. She would ask tons of questions. Now she has retreated into her own little world.

It wasn’t until Kathryn reached the fifth grade when she met her new teacher, did her life change. Immediately, Miss Greenwald noticed Kathryn’s stammer. She, too, had a member in her family with this infliction and had knowledge in how she could help her.

Miss Greenwald took the opportunity to talk with Kathryn’s mother at the meet the teacher night held at the beginning of each school year. She asked her permission to work with Kathryn three times a week, after school, to help her with her stammer.

Of course, Kathryn’s mother agreed. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for one hour after school Kathryn would meet with Miss Greenwald. Both Kathryn’s mom and Miss Greenwald had high hopes for Kathryn. If anything, they’re hoping to bring her out of the shell she created for herself.

Kathryn didn’t understand why she had to stay after school three times a week. She had told her mom she felt she was being punished. Her mom reassured her that she was not in trouble. “Miss Greenwald simply wants to see if she can help you, honey.

Reluctantly, Kathryn stays after class on Monday. This would be the first time she would meet with her teacher. She would rather be home in her bedroom with her toys.

Kathryn sat quietly at her desk waiting for Miss Greenwald. She was hoping her teacher forgot. Just as she thought this, Miss Greenwald walked in carrying a pile of papers and a book.

She set her belongings on the desk in front of where Kathryn was sitting and turned the desk around so she could face her. Miss Greenwald gave Kathryn a huge smile and sat down.

Why the sad face? You will love what I have planned for us“, as she organized the pile of papers into different smaller piles. “First of all, let me say you are not alone when it comes to your stammer.”

” Seventy million people in the world have the same as you. That is one person in every one hundred has a stammer. And Missy, this does not include other speech problems such as a lisp or a handful of other impediments. You are not alone in this.”

My nephew, Greg, has a stammer also. He is much older than you and has found ways to control it. This impediment will not go, away you just have to find ways to control it. I don’t want you to hide that pretty voice of yours.”

Kathryn sat there listening to her teacher. Now, she found herself wanting to know more. She isn’t different. She is not a freak as her classmates would call her.

As each after-school session continued, Kathryn’s mom noticed a change in her daughter. She was no longer hiding in her bedroom. She enjoyed spending time with and talking to her mom now.

Mom, Miss Greenwald says this problem will not go away so I need to find ways to control it. I can use some of the techniques she taught me. Slowing down when I talk and thinking about each word I say.”

“I am to focus on her in the classroom and not look at the others. It may take me a little longer to answer but I am not going anywhere anytime soon so those listening need to sit and listen.” She giggled at this last statement.

It is important for you not to help me with words. Let me do it on my own. Miss Greenwald, also, said every Friday we would go to the music room and sing. She said she read where people who have the same problem, as me, sing and their stammering goes away.”

Oh Mommy, wouldn’t that be great if I could sing and no one would know I have a stammer?” Kathryn’s mom stood there listening to every word she said. She was amazed at how far her daughter had come and how much confidence she had now.

Yes, Kathryn it would be amazing to hear you sing. I look forward to this. I hope Miss Greenwald will allow me to come and listen one day.”

The first few singing sessions in the music room were a bit scary for Kathryn. This is the first time she heard her voice through a microphone. She thought it sounded awful.

Next Friday, Kathryn, I want you to do something different. I want you to close your eyes when you sing. I want you to feel the words. All along I asked you to think of each word as you say them but now I want you to feel the words when you sing.”

Kathryn didn’t quite understand what her teacher wanted. Feel the words? She would close her eyes, as her teacher asked, next Friday. Until then she would practice the song Miss Greenwald picked for her.

The song she picked was a song that she felt would mean something very special to Kathryn. It was about a girl finding her voice and not caring what others thought.

Without Kathryn’s knowledge, Miss Greenwald made a call to her mom, “I am calling to see if you would like to come to the music room at school on Friday to hear your daughter sing?”

Without hesitation, she said, “Yes, Kathryn told me what you two were up to. I am so excited! Thank you for everything you have done for my Kathryn. I am so happy to see my little girl enjoying life again!

“One more thing, please do not say anything to your daughter about coming. I am afraid she will be too shy or afraid to sing. She has made wonderful progress and I wanted to share this with you,” Miss Greenwald said with concern. ” See you on Friday at about four. I will have her practice a few times first.”

Kathryn practiced and kept practicing the song. Since she was to sing with her eyes closed she couldn’t read the lyrics. This meant she had to memorize each word.

Monday’s and Wednesday’s after-school classes went without a hitch. Kathryn always tried her best for her teacher. Miss Greenwald told her on Friday they would practice the song to music only. Her voice would be the only voice they would hear.

Kathryn knew the words of the song by heart now. On Friday she would hear her voice put to the music. It was exciting and terrifying all at the same time. “You will be fine. Remember I have been here every step with you and I think you are amazing. I am so proud of you.”

The music room doors were closed and the lights dimmed. Kathryn stood on the small stage reading through the music one more time. “Are you ready?”, her teacher asked. Kathryn sighed and said, “Yes.

The music started. “Listen to the music then start when you are ready.” Kathryn stood there. “Close your eyes. You can do this.” Kathryn closed her eyes and began. With each chord, her voice became stronger as her confidence grew.

“That was amazing Kathryn. Get a drink of water and let’s talk about a few changes and we will do it once more.” They discussed the changes and Kathryn sang one more time. She was amazed. She didn’t have any difficulty with any of the words. Each word flowed without any hesitation.

“Okay, I need to step outside for a moment and make a call. When I get back I will have you sing one last time. I think, now, you understand what I meant by feeling the words.” She smiled and stepped out of the music room.

A few minutes passed and Miss Greenwald returned. “Are you ready?” She turned the lights down once again and Kathryn adjusted the microphone.

When Miss Greenwald left she had made sure Kathryn’s mom had arrived. She instructed her to stay outside the door until she heard the music start. Kathryn would have her eyes closed plus the lights would be down low. She could slip in and sit in the back row.

The music started and Kathryn began to sing. Her voice was beautiful. Her hands moved with each word. Her mom had slipped into a seat and listened. She sat there watching how her daughter stood behind the microphone enjoying what she was doing.

When the song finished Kathryn opened her eyes. She had a huge smile on her face. She saw Miss Greenwald standing directly in front of her. “Kathryn what an amazing job you did with that song. You felt each word.”

As Kathryn smiled back at her teacher her eyes were drawn to a slight movement towards the back of the room. Then she saw her mom. Her mom stood and clapped. The sound of her hands-clapping echoed in the music room.

A huge smile appeared on Kathryn’s face. “See Mommy, just let me sing!

Written by: Angel

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Vocabulary:

speech impediment – noun: a defect in a person’s speech

recess – noun: a break

stammer (also known as a stutter) – noun: pauses and a tendency to repeat the initial letters of words

inquisitive – adjective: curious

retreated – verb: withdraw

infliction – noun: unpleasant situation, circumstance or problem

bring her out of the shell – idiom: to cause someone to be more outgoing

punished – verb: treat (someone) in an unfairly harsh way

reassured – verb: remove doubts or fears

lisp – verb: speech impairment where sounds of letters sound differently such as s or z sounds like a th sound

techniques – noun: skill or ability

confidence – noun: feeling of trust or belief

lyrics

memorize – verb: learn by heart

hitch – noun: interruption or problem

terrifying – adjective: extreme fear

slight – adjective: small degree, inconsiderable

Question ( s ):

Do you know anyone with a speech impediment?

If so, what techniques do they use to control their impediment?