Special

a young girl in white shirt

( Intermediate Level )

As Miss Jenny arrived all the students but one chimed, “Good Morning Miss Jenny.” Minh was deep in her activity to see her teacher arrive. The system titles her as a special needs student but Miss Jenny just tells her and her classmates she is special.

Most of Minh’s classmates had the compassion to help her feel part of the class. There was one student, Nam, who could care less about her.

Every time the class had an activity she was given a head start or some type of an advantage to allow her to do better than she would otherwise. This just made Nam mad.

“Today everyone will review our vocabulary words. First, let’s play the memory game. I will face all words backward on the board and you will have to find the word I say. If you find the word and use it in a sentence correctly then you will earn your team an extra point.”

Nam let out a sigh, “Miss Jenny I don’t want her on my team.” he pointed at Minh who was still deep into her own activity but looked up at Nam as he talked. “Move her over to the other side. She will make us lose. She is stupid!”

This was not the first insult towards Minh out of Nam. Jenny usually ignored his complaints but today she didn’t. She saw Minh’s face as she realized Nam meant her. Did she understand? Maybe not but Jenny did and it made her stomach sick.

She wondered how Nam came to be who he was at such a young age. At ten years old his innocence was gone. “Well, Nam just because you said that I will move her to the other side and make her the captain of Team Two.”

This made Nam giggle out loud. He won this battle with Miss Jenny. What he didn’t realize was that Minh was very good at remembering things. Especially when it involved visual cues.

Miss Jenny moved Minh to the opposite side of the room and her new teammates welcomed her. Jenny quickly showed her students all the vocabulary words then mixed them up and put them on the board facing backward. She numbered them one through twenty.

“Ok, now let’s have one from each team do rock paper scissors to see which team goes first.” Nam quickly stood up and Minh’s new teammates elected her. The two faced off and Nam won. He was gloating as he went back to his seat.

Seems Team One goes first.” Nam quickly stood as he elected himself to be the first. “Where is the pencil case?” Nam looked at the board and said , “Number eleven.”

Miss Jenny turned over the word for eleven. “Oh, I am sorry it is not a pencil case.” Nam sat down and Jenny looked toward Team Two. “Who will go first here?” Minh shook her head. She didn’t want to go first.

Another classmate raised her hand and stood. “Number seven.” It was not a pencil case. This went on for a few rounds. Each student is trying to find the vocabulary word pencil case.

Finally, a member of Team One found the word pencil case. “Yeah!” Nam was happy his team got the first two points. The extra point for using the word in a sentence.

Minh watched the board carefully as each vocabulary word was turned over in search of the pencil case. As Miss Jenny calculated, Minh knew exactly where each of the following vocabulary words was when asked to find them.

The score now was Team One fourteen points and Team Two twenty – six points with Minh finding or helping her team member find the vocabulary word that was next to find.

Nam’s mood had changed and he was annoyed that his own team hadn’t done better. Miss Jenny had noticed this change and inside she felt this would be a lesson Nam would remember.

She glanced over at Minh who sat there calmly. With only two more vocabulary words to find and turn over it is a given Team Two won this activity. She wasn’t rubbing it in Nam’s face that her team obviously won.

Team One found one of the remaining two vocabulary words and Team two the other. Team Two won!Miss Jenny said. All the team members clapped and showed their thanks to Minh who had helped them a great deal.

As the teacher glanced over at the other team they too were celebrating the other team’s win except for Nam who sat there in silence.

Written By: Angel

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Thoughts From Angel:

This is an actual event that took place in my classroom. Instead of pointing out the fact I let the student realize it himself what a grave mistake he made by judging his fellow classmate.

(Names were changed)

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Vocabulary:

chimed – verb: resounded

special needs student – noun: various difficulties (such as a physical, emotional, behavioral, or learning disability or impairment) that causes an individual to require additional or specialized services

compassion – noun: sympathetic pity and concern

advantage – noun: a condition or circumstance that puts one in a favorable or superior position

insult – verb: speak to or treat with disrespect 

ignored – verb: refuse to take notice of or acknowledge

visual cues – noun: concrete objects, pictures, symbols, or written words that provide a child with information about how to do a routine, activity, behavior, or skill

gloating – adjective: dwelling on one’s own success or another’s misfortune

calculated – adjective: done with full awareness of the likely consequences

annoyed – adjective: irritated

rubbing it in (his/her) face – idiom: to boast to make someone someone feel bad

a great deal – phrase : large amount

Question ( s ):

How would you have handled this situation?

His Legacy Lives On

( Intermediate Level )

The rangers called him Amari. Even in aging, he holds himself with dignity. He is one of the original male lions brought to the protection of the private game reserve.

He and his pride traveled too close to a neighboring village making the people too uneasy. In fear for him, he was relocated within the reserve’s boundaries, where there was safety from the farmer’s wrath.

That was over eleven years ago. Now Amari watches over the savannah that belongs to him. This is where he has lived with his pride and sired many cubs with little to no worries of man.

In his day, he had outwitted many poacher traps and won many battles against intruding males. As an older lion, his battle days are just about over.

His face and body bare the scars of battles past. Even with his days numbered, he will keep protecting his pride and all his young until he takes his last breath.

There was a time when he was one of those young males collecting females from others. He fought and defeated many, killing their young and taking their lionesses with him building his own pride.

Over recent years the savannah’s temperature has continued to rise to make it difficult to hunt. Many of the herd populations, like the zebra and gazelle, have decreased. Their newborns were unable to make the trek across the dry and barren wilderness in search of water. They were leaving carcasses scattered for the scavengers.

Even his own pride suffered losses. Lionesses were unable to find prey to kill leaving them incapable of nourishing their cubs. The cubs become frail and die. As terrible as it may sound, the dead provide some nourishment for her and the others.

Many question the practice the rangers do. They do not interfere with the natural life cycle of any of the game animals found at their facility. In a case of a serious disease, they will administer the proper medication or dispose of those infected.

Is this fair? Some will argue no but without this protection, many would fall to the poacher’s snares or be needlessly killed as a trophy for someone’s wall.

Amari lived his life under the supervision of humans and lived his life to the fullest. His legacy lives on within his young.

Written by: Angel

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Thoughts From Angel:

This story was written so you can debate the pros and cons of games reserves versus living wild and free or in a zoo.

Animal populations around the world are in dire need. Every day another animal is added to the endangered list. Their habitats are being destroyed by man’s developments. Can we not come up with a solution?

Without help from humans, and responsible breeding programs, I believe many animals from around the world would completely disappear.

Vocabulary:

dignity – noun: worthy of honor or respect.

wrath – noun: extreme anger

savannah – noun: a grassy plain

sired – verb: cause a pregnancy resulting in the birth

outwitted – verb: defeat by greater ingenuity

poacher – noun: one who kills or takes wild animals illegally

bare – adjective: a large amount or number of

days (are) numbered– idiom: used to say that someone or something will die, fail, or end soon

trek – noun: journey

barren – adjective: not productive

carcasses – noun: the dead body of an animal

frail – adjective: weak

dispose – verb: get rid of 

snares – noun: a trap for catching birds or animals, typically one having a noose of wire or cord

supervision – noun: the action of watching something

legacy – noun: passed on

Question ( s ):

Share your thoughts: wild and free versus under the protection of game reserves versus zoo life.

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Jia Li

woman wearing eyeglasses

( Intermediate Level )

Jia Li’s dream was to study abroad once she reached the university level. She did very well throughout her educational career and received top scores. Her greatest achievement was an overall band score of 8.0 on her IELTS on her first try.

Unfortunately, her family, mainly her father, had something different in mind when it came to her. She was their only child and she tried to argue her point of view but it fell on deaf ears.

All she could do was dream about what it would have been like if she was able to attend a university in another country. Jia Li dare not disappoint her family. Especially her father. He was the most traditional of everyone she knew.

She asked him once, “Why are you stuck in the old ways, Baba? The world around us is changing.” All she had in response was a stern glare and grumbling under his breath.

She never pressed the issue with him anymore. It was quite obvious how he felt. Her mother always sided with her husband. It was easier for her. So instead she gave up her dream.

Jia Li had one person in her life who listened to her and encouraged her. This was her native – speaking English teacher, Rebecca Adams, who had been her teacher and mentor for over six years.

The one thing she didn’t understand was why her father would hold Jia Li back after all she achieved academically. “What is the worst that would happen if you applied to a university and were accepted? You’re the only child and surely he would not disown you.”

“For now I think it is best I stay here and attend at least two years in one of our universities. I will try asking him again towards the end of the second year. Maybe he will soften his view.”

“My job is done with you. You will soon go off to school again and I need to move on. You are this teacher’s pride and joy.” She smiled at Jia Li and told her to keep in touch. This was a promise Jia Li aimed to keep.

The emails came frequently at first. Jia Li made sure to tell Rebecca about her classes and her teachers. As time passed the correspondence was more occasional.

Ms. Adams had returned to America as she felt she was away from her family too long. How long she would stay would be determined in the future. Her parents were getting up there in age so she wanted to stay around for a few years.

Rebecca remembers one of the latest emails from Jia Li. She wrote her father had become ill with cancer, and the doctors said they had done all they could do for him.

She also mentioned that her father had given her added pressure to get married and have a child before he died.

“Rebecca, it is close to the end of my second year and I have sent out applications to many universities abroad. I feel this is my last chance to follow my dream but with my father and his cancer I must stay. My mother will need me.”

When Rebecca read this her heart sank. She knew how long and hard she had worked but she understood. The end was inevitable for her father but it could be the beginning for Jia Li.

She wrote back and gave her deepest sympathies for what she and her family was going through. She ended her email with a few simple lines.

My sweet Jia Li,

I have watched you grow up and become the person you have become. I am so glad I was chosen to be your teacher, your mentor, and your friend.

I know whatever choice you make in life you will surely succeed. I do not truly understand fully why your father held you back from the very beginning.

In my eyes, a parent should want more for their child than they had. Maybe this is one of the subtle differences between our cultures.

I hope you continue to keep in touch as you hold a special place in my heart. Please give my best to your parents.

Forever your friend,

Rebecca

As she tapped the send key Rebecca wondered if her former student would marry and have a child just to make her father happy.

As the months passed, Rebecca went on with her life. She managed to land a position at the university in which she graduated, teaching English to foreign students.

Once in a while, something or someone in her class would trigger a memory of Jai Li, and hoped she was doing well. She knew she would reach out once she could. Right now her family needed her.

The school year ended and Rebecca took her parents on vacation to Florida. Her mother’s sister and her husband had retired there. They spent a few weeks with them then traveled on to Georgia where her father’s brother lived.

It was a nice getaway for all of them. Rebecca would return to work in a month and a half. She was asked to return for another year which made her very happy. Maybe in another year or two, she would entertain working abroad again.

She hadn’t thought about moving out of her parent’s home. It was convenient for everyone. Her parents could rely on her and it was only twenty minutes from work. It was a win – win situation,

When the trio returned from their vacation they all sported a dark tan from the beautiful sunshine of Florida and Georgia. They hadn’t had a family vacation together in years.

While on vacation, Rebecca didn’t check her emails or social media. It was a time for her to detach from everything and unwind. She would have a week before work started up again and she was expecting anything urgent enough to interrupt their vacation.

The second night back Rebecca sat at her computer going through all her emails. She scrolled down and read what she felt was important and the rest she would leave for another time.

She kept scrolling through until one caught her eye. It was from Jia Li. She opened it and began to read.

“I wanted to write you a few shirt lines to let you know I am alright. I am sorry I haven’t written before now but you have always been on my mind.

Sadly, my father passed almost twenty days ago, and towards the end, he wasn’t himself. In my eyes, he had always been a strong determined man but he gave up. He was too tired to fight any longer.

I have been helping my mother deal with things here. They had been married for almost thirty – seven years and knew each other since grade school. She not only lost her husband but her best friend.

I do have a huge surprise for you and I cannot wait to share this news with you. When I have more time I will share this.”

Miss you,

Jia Li

Rebecca read through her email twice and she wondered what the surprise was. It was too soon for her to have a baby but maybe she married and became pregnant to satisfy her father’s wishes.

Either way, she would be supportive and happy for her. It was not up to her to judge something she really didn’t understand.

The final week of her vacation passed by too quickly. Before she knew it she was back at school prepping for the upcoming school year and the students.

She had over three hundred students assigned to her this year. Almost one hundred more from last year. She wouldn’t know until the first week of classes how many actually would come.

The week went by and Rebecca is ready for next week’s students. She made copies of her syllabus and her classroom rules along with the guidelines for the three student essays that they would be assigned.

She sat there going over everything once again and a staff member walked into her room. “Hi Rebecca, there is someone here to see you and I told her classes didn’t start until next week but she is insisting she speak with you tonight.”

“It’s ok. I am just about to leave. I will take a few minutes to speak with her before I head home. Thank you for letting me know.”

Rebecca gathered her papers and her briefcase had headed out. Turning off her classroom’s lights as she left. She couldn’t imagine why a student insisted on seeing her before school actually began.

As she entered the reception area she looked over at a woman sitting with her back facing her. She noticed her long black hair and tiny frame.

Rebecca sat her briefcase on the counter and began to walk over to this woman. As she approached her she gasped, “Oh my. I am so happy to see you.”

Jia Li stood up and gave her teacher a huge hug. They held each other for a long time.

Jia Li stepped back, “Surprise. I finally can follow my dream. It is never too late as my mother reminded me recently. She has gone to live with her sister and told me to get my butt here where I have always wanted to be.

“I had my choice of many universities but I chose here. I was accepted into the Ph.D. program. It is the next chapter in my life!” The two hugged once more. Rebecca grabbed the briefcase and they headed out the door.

Written By: Angel

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Thoughts From Angel:

Many cultural differences are difficult for me to understand but in the same breath I respect them.

If you appreciate what I do and would like to “Buy Me A Coffee”

“I get 100% of all donations”

Vocabulary:

achievement – noun: something done successfully, typically by effort or skill

deaf ears– idiom: no one listens

under his (one’s) breath – idiom: quietly so that other people cannot hear exactly what you are saying

mentor– noun: an experienced adviser or teacher

disown – verb: refuse to acknowledge or have any connection with

correspondence – noun: communication by exchanging letters or emails with someone

getting up there in age – idiom: elderly or becoming old

inevitable – adjective: certain to happen, unavoidable

deepest sympathies – idiom: said as a set response to someone sharing their misfortunes

subtle – adjective: difficult to analyze or describe, distinction

win – win -adjective: denoting a situation in which each party benefits in some way

prepping – noun: he action or process of preparing something

Question ( s ):

What are your thoughts on the plight of Jia Li?

If you were her, would you have followed your dream?

Forgiveness

( Intermediate Level )

As Allison and her husband, Craig, sat in the courtroom listening to the defendant, the defendant who had recklessly chosen to get behind the wheel of his car while he was intoxicated, she wept.

This man had taken the life of their daughter Anna Marie, who just months prior received her driver’s license. She would have started her junior year in high school and had so much promise in her future.

The judge had asked if the defendant wanted to say something before he was sentenced. Mr. Brown shook his head in affirmation.

“Thank you, Your honor. I can give you all kinds of excuses to say why I got behind the wheel that night but I am not. I should have just stayed home but I didn’t.”

“You see, your honor, I lost my wife and our unborn child while my wife was giving birth a month prior to the accident. Complications set in and the doctors tried to save them or at least my wife but they both died.

“I blame myself. I insisted we start our family while we were still young. My wife never really wanted children. However, she loved me and knew I came from a large family and she reluctantly agreed.”

“As the months went by, my wife was actually getting excited about having our child. Our little girl. Once she felt her move in her stomach she felt differently.”

“We started to set up the nursery next to our bedroom. Decorating with pink flowers and lots of teddy bears. We must have worked on it for a week or so and my wife started feeling a bit under the weather.”

She took it easy for a few days. Resting as she felt so tired. I insisted she make an appointment with the doctor as soon as possible, which she did.”

“She was to see the doctor in two days but something happened the night before her appointment. She doubled over in pain and she wanted to go to the hospital.”

Immediately, we headed to the emergency room. Upon arrival, my wife started to bleed and the pain worsened.”

“All I remember is the doctor saying she was in labor with complications. He took her into surgery hoping to save them both.”

An hour or so passed as I waited outside in the waiting area and the doctor came out and told me that he tried his best but they both had died.”

Mr. Brown’s voice began to crack as he held back his tears. “I lost, Your Honor, the love of my life, and my little girl that night. Life has not been the same since.”

“I cannot bring myself to sleep in the bed which I shared with my wife nor can I walk past the empty nursery.”

“I lost my job after a week. My boss understood what I was going through but he had no choice but to let me go.”

“I lost my willpower to continue living and the only thing that made me forget was the whiskey. It dulled my pain until I sobered up. So for me not to feel my pain I drank again. And again and again.”

Allison’s sobs grew louder. She felt his anguish. Craig put his arm around her and drew her in closer to him.

“That night I had to leave the house. The walls were coming down on me as my world did that night in the hospital. I grabbed my keys to get the hell out of there.”

“The next thing I remember, Your Honor, is waking up with a splitting headache with my wrist handcuffed to the hospital bed. It wasn’t until later that day I heard what I had done and I regret it to this day. I was irresponsible.”

He turned slightly in his chair to face Allison and Craig, “I am so sorry for what I took from you. I am not asking for your forgiveness, just understanding. That night was not who I am.”

Allison buried her face deep in her husband’s shoulder trying to hold back her tears. Mr. Brown turned back around to face the judge once again.

“We will take a recess and continue after lunch. Thank you Mr. Brown for sharing your story. When we come back we will hear from the parents before sentencing” The judge slammed his gavel down. Everyone stood as he left the courtroom.

Lunch break was an hour and a half. Both Craig and Allison didn’t feel like eating. Instead they sat at a local café mulling over if they wanted to speak. Craig felt he wouldn’t have anything nice to say so he opted not to.

Allison, on the other hand, felt she had much to say. Ï am going to speak from my heart.” she told her husband. “Ï believe we owe to ourselves and to Anna Marie.”

For the remaining forty-five minutes they sat there without speaking. Allison sipped her coffee and watched the people pass by the café’s window.

The two walked slowly to the courthouse dreading the afternoon session. This will be the most difficult thing for Allison. Face the man who took her daughter from her and speak.

They reached the courthouse and went inside. Allison looked over at the benches by the courtroom where they were to go to see an older couple sitting there. She figures they were about ten years or so older than her and her husband.

They were holding each other’s hands and talking quietly to each other. She doesn’t remember seeing them in the courtroom earlier.

The bailiff opened the double doors and nodded to both couples. It was the signal that the court session was about to resume. Allison and her husband entered and sat in the seats they had earlier.

The other couple sat behind the defense side of the room. At this moment Alison realized they must be either Mr. Brown’s parents or his deceased wife’s.

Mr. Brown was led into the courtroom. He saw his parents sitting as he entered. His mother looked like she hadn’t slept in days. As he sat his handcuffs were removed.

He turned to his mother and mouthed, “It will be ok Mom. I love you.” He then glanced at his dad. They locked eyes for a moment before he turned back around. This did not go unnoticed by Allison.

Within moments the bailiff was echoing “All rise. The court will now go into session. Please rise as the honorable Judge Smith enters the courtroom.” The judge entered carrying a stack of papers never looking towards the occupants of the room.

As he sat the bailiff was heard again. “Please be seated.” The judge seemed to organize the papers into stacks then he looked up towards the room.

This case was a difficult one for him. He too is a father of two teenage girls and he could feel the pain of both sides in this case before him.

The judge quickly summarized the morning session and then asked,” We will take a few moments to hear from the parents of the victim. After this, I will make a decision in this case..”

Allison took a deep breath and stood to address both the judge and Mr. Brown. She glanced over at his parents who were looking with great sadness in their eyes.

Allison looked down for a moment to compose herself and her thoughts then looked directly at the judge.

“Your Honor, If I was to speak this morning I may have had different things to say to you. My husband and I took this break to do some deep soul searching after what Mr. Brown told the courtroom this morning.”

“We realize, I realize he lost not one but two that were precious to him. Yes, He was irresponsible in getting behind the wheel of his car that night. Sure, he could have sought counseling to deal with his grief, but he didn’t.”

She turned towards Mr. Brown, “I can stand here before you and be angry at you for what you did but I am not. I hurt for you. I know the pain and sorrow you are feeling.

“My husband and I feel the same. I see your parents in the courtroom and I do not want to give them more pain than they feel now.” She glanced back at them and saw his mother’s tears.

“I forgive you, Mr. Brown. Nothing will bring back my daughter, your wife, or your little girl and I am sorry. We are entitled to make a mistake here and there. I hope this is one mistake you never make again”

She looked down again and rubbed the top of one hand then she looked up to the judge. “Your Honor, My husband and I lost our little girl. Our only child but Mr. Brown lost also.”

“I can ask you for the maximum sentence allowed by the laws but I will not. It won’t bring back those who we’ve lost. Instead, I would like to see Mr. Brown begin to heal as we will.”

“His parents have suffered enough too. So I stand here before you asking that he be released with mandatory counseling to help him deal with his loss. My husband agrees with this. We forgive him.”

She sat next to her husband and felt like a huge burden had been lifted. It was time for their journey to healing. Allison and Craig had taken the first step. Forgiveness. Now it was time for Mr. Brown to forgive himself.

Written By: Angel

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Thoughts From Angel:

Forgiveness allows you to move forward in life whether it is forgiving yourself or others.

If you appreciate what I do,” “Buy Me A Coffee

Vocabulary:

intoxicated – adjective: drunk

wept – verb: shed tears

complications – noun: a circumstance that complicates something; a difficulty

reluctantly – adverb: unwilling and hesitant 

under the weather – idiom: ill, not feeling well

sobered up – phrasal verb: to become less drunk

irresponsible – adjective: not showing responsibility

recess – noun: a period of time when the proceedings of a court of law are temporarily suspended

gavel – noun: a small mallet with which a judge hits a surface to call for attention or order

mulling – verb: to think about

opted – verb: to make a choice

speak from my (one’s) heart – idiom: to speak or say something with deep emotional sincerity

bailiff – noun: an official in a court of law who keeps order, looks after prisoners

locked eyes – idiom: to stare into the eyes of someone who is staring back into your eyes

decision – noun: a conclusion or resolution reached after consideration

soul searching – noun: deep and anxious consideration of one’s emotions and motives or of the correctness of a course of action

counseling – noun: assistance and guidance in resolving personal, social, or psychological problems and difficulties, especially by a professional.

entitled – adjective: having a right to something

Question ( s ):

Which is more important to you? Justice or forgiveness?

Would it make a difference if it involved a family member?

Silent World

( Intermediate Level )

I recently had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful and inspirational person whose outlook on life is immense. Her disability never stopped her.

When Agnes was born the doctors discovered she could not hear. To what extent her hearing loss was, they were unsure. The doctor would order testing to be done in the next few weeks.

Her mother was devastated as Agnes was her first child. “Was it something I did, Doctor?” Her mother asked. “I must go home and tell my husband, her father, that our first child is deaf.”

“No one can tell you for certain why these things happen but I can assure you that Agnes will grow up just fine. She will be a bit slower to develop some skills but she will do just fine.”

“You and your husband will have to find ways to keep her interested in learning and I will research this school I recently read about. You can communicate through sign language. It is a visual communication using gestures, facial expressions, and your hands.”

“Once I know about this school and what it offers, I will have my nurse call you and give you the contact information. It would be best if both you and your husband learn this together along with your daughter. This way both of you can be an active part in her development.”

Alright Doctor. I will wait until I hear from your office and go from there. My husband and I wanted to have a few more children but I figure working with Agnes will be time-consuming and having more children may not be the best situation all around.”

“Maybe not right away but I do not see why you couldn’t have more children in the future. Maybe in a year or two. If you work with her and sign her up at this school she will learn quickly.”

Mildred left the office with Agnes in her arms. She blames herself for Agnes even though the doctor was uncertain. She was determined to do everything in her power to give her a fighting chance to be as normal as other children.

This is exactly what she and her husband did. They gave their daughter all the tools to grow up just as normal as others without the ability to hear. They enrolled her in the school as soon as they earned the first year of tuition and she reached age one.

When she turned ten, if still enrolled, she would have the opportunity to stay in the dorms with others like her. It would give Agnes a sense of acceptance the school told her mother.

Now at ninety-three years old, Agnes looks back and realizes the sacrifices her parents made for her. She counsels new parents who have found out that their children are hearing impaired.

With the world of new technology and teaching methods, it is much easier for a child to learn than it was for her. Agnes now uses a special tablet to speak to these parents. Laughing as she remembers how difficult it was at first to use it.

In an interview once, she tells us a story she was reminded of. A story about a single mother who she met about thirty years ago. This woman was a single mother and the cards were already stacked against her for this. She wanted to give her son up for adoption because of his deafness.

She sat down with her tablet and typed away. The words came quickly and with passion,” I understand how you feel. My parents felt the same when they were told of my inability to hear and that was over forty years ago. They didn’t want to give me up but they felt defeated. My mother blames herself for my deafness.” Agnes shutters when she realizes how many years have passed.

“Giving up on yourself and your son is an easy way to get out of a hard place you’re in. The result will be forever. Are you truly wanting to put your son up for adoption?” This mother looked up at Agnes with sad eyes and shook her head no.

In the end, the mother kept her son. Agnes helped her learn sign language and in turn, could help her son learn. This woman’s life was turned around by what Agnes said to her through the words she typed. At the age of ten, the boy came and lived in the dorms.

Agnes wants people to understand the last but not least message: “Even though my world is silent doesn’t mean I am all that different from you. If I made it in this world then anyone can.”

Written By: Angel

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Thoughts From Angel:

I am amazed when people overcome a disability and succeed.

If you appreciate what I do “Buy Me A Coffee.”

Vocabulary:

inspirational – adjective: providing or showing inspiration

extent– noun: the size or scale of something

devastated – verb: overwhelming shock or grief

assure – verb: tell someone something positively or confidently 

development – noun: the process of starting to experience

time-consuming – adjective: taking a lot of or too much time

tuition – noun: a sum of money charged for teaching or instruction by a school

dorms – noun: a residence hall providing rooms for individuals or for groups usually without private baths

acceptance – noun:  the quality or state of being accepted or acceptable 

counsels – verb: give advice

hearing impaired – adjective: people with any degree of hearing loss

cards were (are) already stacked– idiom: a situation in which one person or group is disadvantaged or faces difficult circumstances

adoption – noun: the act of adopting or making it your own

deafness -noun: the condition of not being able to hear

defeated – adjective: demoralized and overcome by adversity

shutters – verb: visible signs of disbelief

Question ( s ):

Do you know anyone with a disability or a handicap?

If so, has it stopped them from achieving their life goals?

Jackson

body of water surrounded by trees

( Intermediate Level )

Kenny and his wife, Jill, had taken their vacation this year at the same time. It coincided with their boy’s summer vacation from school. Michael, ten, would be going to be in fourth grade and Jackson, eight, would be starting second grade in September.

This year, their plans were to camp out at their favorite lake in the mountains. This was a quiet place for them to unwind from their busy city life.

Both Kenny and Jill were attorneys and their schedules were always conflicting with their life at home. Not this year. They are making a point to put their lives and boys first.

Friday after work, Kenny started packing the car with everything his wife had packed. From extra clothing to fishing gear and food. They had plans to leave out at six in the morning since it was going to be a four-hour drive.

This would allow them to arrive in plenty of time to set up their camp and have some daylight hours to enjoy. Michael and Jackson were eager for the next day’s plans and their parents had a difficult time getting them to sleep.

The boys were up at five in the morning and ready to go. “After breakfast guys, mommy and daddy need their coffee.” Kenny smiled at his wife who had just gotten up out of bed ten minutes earlier.

Finally, it was time to leave and the boys were the first to get in the car and have their seatbelts secured. “Let’s go!” They chanted together. “We’re coming.” their mom replied as she checked the door one last time to make sure it was locked.

The four-hour drive went by fast. The boys occupied their time by having car games such as slug bug or how many red cars can you count. Mom didn’t care for the game slug bug since it involved punching the other every time they had seen a Volkswagen beetle. Jackson always cried since his brother punched harder.

Once they arrived they chose to set up camp near the beach area. It was a little rocky but not bad enough to hurt your feet if you went barefoot. This area would allow them great access to swimming or fishing. Whatever they chose to do that day.

The boys ran around and explored their new home for the week as mom and dad set up camp. “Not too close to the water, ok boys. Your father and I are busy setting up and we cannot watch you.”

You heard them in the distance. “Yes, mom.” The boys found an array of bugs as they wandered. These two were just like any other typical boy where ominous creatures intrigued them, picking each up and getting a closer look at them.

Michael would throw each bug once he finished observing it, at his younger brother. “Stop or I am going to tell mom.” Jackson’s threats didn’t scare him. They kept exploring until they heard their mom calling.” Boys. It’s lunchtime.”

Sandwiches and chips were served for lunch. Kenny was hoping to catch a few fish for dinner that night. “Boys after lunch, let’s try to catch some fish for dinner.” Both agreed and a challenge was inevitable.

“I bet you, dad, I can catch the most fish and the biggest” Michael smiled as he challenged his father. “What about me?” asked Jackson. “Of course, you can be part of this too.” dad said as he rubbed the top of Jackson’s head.

As the men headed out to fish for the afternoon, Jill planned on reading her book. A quiet afternoon without the boys and her husband sounded wonderful to her. She had started this particular book over six months back but never found the time to read it with the demands of her family and work.

The trio arrived at the bank of the lake. Michael wanted to get his line in the water as soon as he could. He was determined to win this challenge. Jackson had to have his hook baited by his dad. He was not fond of putting a worm on the hook.

Both Michael and his dad had caught three fish each but Jackson hadn’t caught a single one. He became bored and quit fishing. He wandered off to explore as his father and brother continued to fish.

“We are going to have plenty of fish for tonight and probably tomorrow too,” Kenny said as he looked at Michael. “Where’s Jackson?” He looked but he couldn’t see any signs of him.

“Michael, Where is your brother? Did you see which way he walked? Michael shrugged his shoulders as he uttered, “I dunno.”

“Jackson!,” His father began to yell his name. Nothing. No response. “Michael, grab the fish and take the fishing poles back to camp where mom is. I am going to look for your brother.”

As his dad started to run off he yelled back to Michael, “Let mom know what is happening and tell her not to worry.” Michael grabbed up the fish and the gear and headed back to the campsite.

Hi Honey, where are dad and your brother?” Michael told his mom what was happening and instantly she became panicked. Jackson was only eight. He was her baby.

There wasn’t anything Jill or Michael could do but sit at their camp waiting on any word from either her husband or Jackson.

Kenny searched by the lake hoping his son hadn’t fallen in, no signs of any footprints or him so he began to head towards the woods. He knew Jackson loved animals and could easily be distracted by a bird or a rabbit.

All along he yelled, “Jackson? Jackson? Where are you?” He stopped periodically in hopes he would hear a response or even hear him crying. Nothing.

The sun would be setting soon and the urgency to find Jackson was heightened. Kenny knew he couldn’t go back to camp without Jackson in tow.

Just as he began to give up all hope of finding him while it was still light enough to see, he spotted something ahead near a fallen log. It was orange in color and he couldn’t quite make out what it was.

it was obviously something that didn’t fit into the surroundings. It was too bright in color. He tried to remember what Jackson was wearing but he failed to pay attention.

His footsteps quickened to see what this object was. As he approached a huge sigh escaped him as it was Jackson. He had fallen asleep propped up against the fallen tree.

He bent down so as to not startle him and gently woke him up. “Oh. Hi, Dad.” as he yawned. Jackson was oblivious to how he had made him worry so.

“Well you scared me and I imagine your mom is worried to death. We need to head back to camp so she knows you are ok.”

Jackson stood up and grabbed his dad’s hand. Jackson told his dad about this small red dog that he followed until he disappeared. “I sat quietly hoping it would come out of hiding and I must have fallen asleep.” Kenny listened to his son’s description of the animal and he figured it was a fox.

They headed back to camp, hand in hand. Kenny was relieved that everything was fine and his son was safe. It would be a story to tell in the future and most likely become exaggerated each time the story was told.

Written By: Angel

Follow me On:

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Twitter: AngelOfTheMorn5

Meta Business Suite: Angel’s Thoughts to Pen

Coming 8-8-2022: topenwithangel.com

Thoughts From Angel:

I loved to explore the outdoors, like Michael and Jackson. My imagination took me to many far-away places, not just the backyard.

The innocence of childhood is precious.

If you appreciate what I do “Buy Me A Coffee”

Vocabulary:

coincided – verb: occur at the same time

unwind – verb: relax after a period of work or tension

conflicting – adjective: incompatible; contradictory

eager – adjective: wanting to do or have something 

barefoot – adjective: wearing nothing on the feet

ominous – adjective: scary or unknown

observing – verb: to notice

inevitable – adjective: certain to happen

trio – noun: a set or group of three people or things

dunno – slang: do not know

distracted – adjective: unable to concentrate

periodically – adverb: from time to time

urgency– noun: importance requiring immediate action

heightened – adjective: intense

in tow – idiom: accompanying or to follow someone

pay attention– idiom: to concentrate on

quickened – verb: become faster or quicker

worried to death – idiom: extremely anxious

exaggerated – adjective: represented as larger, better, or worse than in reality

Question ( s ):

When you were a child, had you ever become lost?

I Am Me

young woman with pink hair sitting on aged car roof

( Intermediate Level )

“Isn’t it ironic how society or your family tells you how to act, what you should look like, or even what you should become but in the same breath they tell you to be a leader and not a follower?”

“Why can’t I just be me?” She had asked this question dozens of times to her teachers, her parents, or her boss at the burger shop where she worked part-time on weekends. Never once had she received a solid answer to this question?

“It is just how it is. People associate your looks with who you are. We know who you truly are but you are judged at first glance.” this was her mother’s go-to answer.

Those who really knew Shelby knew how smart, kind and honest she was. Others judge her without getting to know her. She felt this was unfortunate for them but it still bothers her. They were the ones who were missing out.

When she was out in any public setting, she tried not to draw attention to herself. It annoyed her but she would tell her friends, “It is what it is and I cannot change everyone’s mind.”

Shelby had a special relationship with her history teacher, Mr. Barkley. He would tell her there were many famous women in history who people thought were odd or silly but they turned out to be movers and shakers in the world. He always had a way of making her feel better.

See, what people didn’t know about Shelby she was in the top five percent of her class and she was in the running for class valedictorian. This honor is given to a student with the highest academic achievements.

Sometime this week or early next week it will be announced. The students had completed their last exams and those marks would be tallied to see who had won.

Shelby was home on Friday night surfing the internet on her laptop. She had finished all her homework earlier and really didn’t want to watch a movie with her parents. She made her rounds to all her favorite social media platforms, making comments or liking her friends’ posts.

Her last stop would be her emails before she showered and headed to bed. She noticed she had an email from her school and was curious.

She read, “Congratulations Shelby! We are proud to announce you are this year’s Valedictorian. You are expected to give the farewell address to the graduating seniors this year, so please prepare for this and allow us to review it before graduation.” It was signed by the principal of her school.

She took her laptop out to the living room where she knew her parents were. She could hear the television still on. “Mom, Dad, I have something for you to read.” She handed her laptop over to her mother.

Both her parents read the email at the same time and her mother squealed with delight. ” I am so very proud of you Honey. I know you’ve been working very hard all year long.”

Shelby headed back to her bedroom. She had showered and lay on her bed thinking of what she would say in her speech. She could be like all others in the past. Wishing everyone the best for their future but she wanted to speak from her heart.

She was up early the next morning and ate a quick bowl of oatmeal. She went to her desk to begin writing her speech. Shelby was old school when it came to writing. She used paper and a pencil.

She started many drafts but found she didn’t like how they sounded. She crumpled up pieces of paper all around the floor by the waste paper basket next to her desk.

Her mom knocked on her door lightly to see if she wanted breakfast with her and her dad. “No mom, I had some oatmeal already.” Her mom popped her head in the door about this time.

“Oh my, what happened here? It looks like a hurricane hit.” Shelby laughed and looked at her mom. “I am not having any luck with my speech. I don’t want to sound like a robot nor do I want to sound fake.”

“Don’t force it, Dear. The words will come to you,” She kissed Shelby’s forehead, picked up the crumpled papers that hadn’t made their way to the trash, then headed out to cook breakfast for her and her husband.

Her mom was right. Shelby took a break and went for a walk. This helped her clear her mind. She sat outside just watching people. Some who walked by her looked and then walked faster or they commented to those who walked with them.

That evening over dinner her mom asked her how the speech was going. “ I took a break. I will go back to writing again after dinner. I will have it done by Monday I am sure of this.”

After dinner, Shelby excused herself from the table. “If you need me, Mom, I will be in my room. I can help you with the dishes.” “No, It will be fine. You need to concentrate on that speech of yours.”

Shelby settled down at her desk and began to write and the words flowed through her pencil to the paper. her. She read it and reread it then shared it with her parents.

They felt she had spoken well and from the heart. She returned to her room and tucked it away until Monday when she would turn it in for approval.

On Monday afternoon the principal had called for her to come to the office. He handed back her speech to her and told her,” It was written eloquently and with great care. Great job!”

The week went by fast enough. Friday evening at seven the graduation commencement would be held on the sports field. Chairs would be set on the field and a small stage would go into place. Many of the seniors volunteered to help set up for the event.

Shelby and her parents had an early dinner on Friday night. After the ceremony, if they were hungry they could go out for dessert and coffee. For now, Shelby needed to get ready and arrive forty-five minutes earlier.

The evening was filled with excitement mixed with sadness. Some of her classmates will be going out of state to attend the college they chose. It was the end of one chapter and the start of a new one for all of them.

“Tonight we are here to celebrate our seniors. It is a time when they find out who they are and take the tools we have taught them and put them into good use. I wish all of them the very best. Without further ado let me introduce this year’s valedictorian, Shelby Mecham.”

You could hear her classmates say,” You go girl!” as the audience clapped. The bleachers were full of family members and friends of the graduating class. Shelby’s parents were on the top row hoping to have a better view.

Shelby stood there with confidence. She put her speech on the podium in front of her and adjusted the microphone.”Thank you all for coming tonight to celebrate with us.”

“As valedictorian, I can wish everyone the best in life and tell them they would be missed. They know they will. As much as we say we will keep in touch with one another our lives will drift apart.”

“During this time of our lives, we discovered who we are and what direction we will choose. Some of us will be wise in our choices and some of us will not.” She glanced around at her classmates and smiled, stopping at those who hadn’t taken high school as seriously.

“It is ok when we fail. We learn from our mistakes. Eventually, we will get it right. If not, we can always live with our parents for the rest of our lives.” She laughed along with the audience.

“If I can give all of you, my classmates and those in the audience, one bit of advice I would tell you not to judge anyone by how they look without getting to know them first.”

“My parents are the best in the world. They let me be me. I have pink hair this week and maybe next week I may have blue. I chose to have artwork on my arm. This is how I express myself. “

“Do these things make me a bad person? Do these things say I will be a bum in society? No, they don’t. They show I have the confidence to be who I want to be.”

“So, the next time you see someone who is like me don’t judge them, instead get to know them. I am standing up here on the stage tonight as this year’s valedictorian. If I was someone that was, in your eyes, a bad person, I would not even graduate. I am me.”

“Let’s get to the ceremony at hand. I know my fellow classmates want to get this chapter closed. Thank you again for coming.” As she ended her address everyone stood and clapped. Her classmates cheered. and whistled.

She glanced to the top row of the bleachers to see her parents smiling and clapping. Her dad blew her a kiss.

Written By: Angel

Follow Me On:

Instagram: morningangel847

Twitter: AngelOfTheMorn5

Meta Business Suite: Angel’s Thoughts to Pen

Coming soon: topenwithangel.com

Thoughts From Angel:

I am far from perfect. I am guilty of judging someone on their appearance or my first impression of them. I can say that most of us have at one time or another in our lifetime. I can tell you honestly I have been wrong on many occasions.

If you appreciate what I do “Buy Me A Coffee”

Vocabulary:

in the same breath – idiom: at the same time

associate – verb: connect (someone or something) with something else in one’s mind

go-to – adjective: a person or thing that may be relied on

unfortunate – adjective: bad fortune; unlucky

movers and shakers – idiom: a powerful person who initiates events and influences people

valedictorian – noun: typically having the highest academic achievements in the class

achievements – noun: a thing done successfully, typically by effort, courage, or skill

surfing the internet – (uncountable noun): to browse or move from site to site randomly

farewell address – noun: a speech delivered by someone upon leaving

squealed with delight – verb phrase: make a high-pitched sound when you become excited

old school – noun: something that is old-fashioned or traditional

drafts – noun: a preliminary version of a piece of writing

crumpled up – idiom: to crush a piece of paper until all of it is destroyed

fake – adjective: not real

flowed – verb: a steady stream

eloquently -adverb: persuasive manner

commencement – noun: a ceremony in which degrees or diplomas are given to graduating students

bleachers – noun: noun: a cheap bench seat at a sports arena

podium – noun: a small platform that a person uses to set their papers when giving a speech

Question ( s ):

Have you judged someone on their appearance or your first impression of them?

Were you wrong?

Sarah’s Story Continues

( Advanced Level )

It’s nearly five years since Sarah walked away from her last failed marriage. She no longer thinks about the past but about her future. It’s been rocky at times but she has managed.

For the first few months, she blamed herself for not having the strength to stay and improve things. She felt as if she was a quitter.

Now, she realizes that no matter how long she would have in those relationships, staying it would not have changed the outcome. She had the choice to abide and be miserable and lose herself day by day.

Sarah traveled around a bit until she found herself in a cozy little village called Limone Sul Garda in Italy. She has a small simple cottage which has a breathtaking view of the lake.

It is a perfect place to heal and be who she wanted to be. At first, she took up writing in a journal. Writing about each day’s triumphs. Now she writes stories. She is amazed at how each story evolves from her imagination.

She made a few friends that she occasionally goes to lunch with. A few admirers have asked her for dates but she gently declines. In her mind, she is not ready for any relationship. Not yet, at least.

As she sat at a local café, in the heart of the village, she noticed a group talking with each other. What drew her attention was the passion with which they spoke. Some speak Italian and others English.

She found herself listening intently and curiosity got the best of her. She made her way over to talk to them. She was greeted with many smiles and introductions and was asked if she wanted to join them.

It turns out that this group meets twice a month to discuss a book they’ve read as a group. Today they were discussing a book about starting over in your life. Whether it was after losing a job, losing a loved one, or simply a relationship went bad.

Sarah had not read this book but she knew she could contribute to the conversation from her own experience. It was crazy in her mind how candid she was. Spewing her own experiences to total strangers.

After an hour or so the group ended their discussion as many had to return to their homes for one reason or another. One gentleman stayed behind for a minute to thank Sarah for being there and making the conversation even more interesting.

“It was rather nice having a new perspective on things, Sarah. I hope you will come again. We meet every other Thursday here at this same café.”

Sarah smiled, “I would love to. I don’t know what possessed me to come over to the group but I am glad I did. I had a wonderful afternoon and met many new friends. Thank you and I will be here most definitely.”

As she walked up the hill heading towards her cottage she reflected on what each person had said. Some argued terrific points on the subject. In a way, it helped her. It helped her look at things from a different viewpoint.

The same ritual continued every other Thursday. Now she had the chance to read the same book as the others. She spent most of her evenings either writing her own or reading that week’s assigned book.

Each member took turns recommending a book for discussion and her chance would be coming soon. What she hoped was to finish her own and allow the group to have the first chance to read it.

Maybe it would give her the confidence to publish it. The group had now become her close friends and they were well aware of her past history and specifics that had her end up in this tiny little village.

Lorenzo had been the one who stayed back at that very first meeting to welcome her to the group. They had become very good friends as he needed someone to talk to also.

His story was similar to hers in a way. His first wife was killed in an automobile accident after six years of marriage and his second marriage failed. As he looks back on this, he knew he was the fault for the second marriage failing. He was still in love with his first wife.

Knowing his story made Sarah relax when they were together. She wasn’t ready or didn’t want a relationship nor did he. Just friendship and an occasional early platonic dinner together.

The time came for Sarah’s choice for the group to read. She had finished her very first novel just a few nights before. She read it through once again to make sure it was perfect.

“When we meet again in two weeks I have something different for us to read.” She looked around at the group and saw they were hanging onto her every word. They watched her pull out a bundle of papers from her bag.

She let out a sigh,” Here is something I have worked on for the last year.” She handed each of them a copy. ” It is my first novel. I want everyone to be honest with me when we meet. Either you will love it, hate it, or be on the fence about it.”

Wow, this is something special,” Lorenzo said with a smile. He had no idea that she was writing her first book. He knew she wrote stories but a novel surprised him.

“I think I can speak for the whole group here. We are honored you chose us to have the first glance at your work.” He looked around at the group to see all with smiles and nods.

And Missy, we will be brutally honest with you!” He laughed. Everyone had gathered their copies and headed on their way back to their homes.

Lorenzo held back for a moment. He was always the perfect gentleman and made sure he was the last to leave.

Sarah sat in her living room that evening watching the sun setting. She knew the next two weeks she would be on pins and needles. She valued the opinions of each and every one of her newly found friends. Was she ready to hear what they thought?

Tick.Tick. Tick. As she glanced at the clock on the wall. The last time she listened to the sound of a clock was when she started her own life over. Not knowing what each day would bring. She has come a long way since then.

In a way, this could be a turning point for her in her life. Give her the validation of being someone of importance and not being known as someone’s ex-wife.

She rose early in the morning the day of her book group meeting. She showered and dressed then sat in front of her laptop. Her plan was to write but for some reason, all her words were muted by the expectations of the day.

Instead, she sat out on the balcony looking over the lake, sipping on her morning coffee. She listened to the birds as they flew by. This was her special place. The place where she could clear her mind and absorb the wonders of the day.

She looked down at her watch and saw it was time for her to leave. She took her last sip of coffee and took one last look towards the lake.

“Here I go world. Let’s see what they think.” She locked up her door and headed on her way to the café. Her mind was occupied with thoughts that she arrived in record time.

To her surprise, everyone was there. She glanced at her watch again, “I’m not late, am I?” Lorenzo was the first to reply, “No, we are a bit early. Maybe over the excitement to discuss today’s read.”

She sat looking around at the group. “Well? Let me know what you think?” as she bit the side of her lip. She was ready. She told herself this would be an opportunity to better herself in the future so no matter what they said it would help.

Remembering the passion, months ago which drew her attention to the group, she heard once again here today. Everyone was talking in what seemed chaotic but organized. Each gives their own thoughts on what the character should have done.

Sarah glanced over at Lorenzo who sat there with pride. “See. We told you we would not hold anything back, It is magnificent. The details are written allowing us to be the character and ride the roller coaster of emotions. Well done Sarah, well done,”

“All of you are saying you like my story?” Everyone at the table raised their glass of wine with approval and in unison, they uttered, “Cin Cin“.

Written By: Angel

Follow me on:

Instagram: morningangel847

Twitter: AngelOfTheMorn5

Meta Business Suite: Angel’s Thoughts to Pen

Coming soon: topenwithangel.com

Thoughts From Angel:

Finding yourself is the most challenging thing you will ever do in your life. We can be a best friend, a daughter or son, a wife or husband but when it comes to ourselves, we are complete strangers.

If you like to support what I do “Buy Me A Coffee”

Vocabulary:

rocky – adjective: unsteady

quitter – noun: a person who gives up easily 

outcome – noun: the way a thing turns out

abide – verb: accept

triumphs -noun: victory or achievement

evolves – verb: develop gradually

occasionally – adverb: at infrequent or irregular intervals

admirers – noun: a person who has particular regard for someone

declines – verb: refuse 

passion – noun: strong emotion

intently – adverb: eager attention

curiosity got the best of her – phrase: to gain or to lose control over someone or something.

contribute – verb: give

candid – adjective: truthful and straightforward

spewing – verb: expel large quantities of (something) rapidly

perspective – noun: point of view

possessed – verb: have

viewpoint – noun: a way to look at something

ritual – noun: repetitive

confidence – noun: self-assurance

platonic – adjective:  intimate and affectionate, non-sexual

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

bundle – noun: a collection of things or quantity of material

on the fence – idiom: not able to decide

honored – adjective: with great respect

brutally – adverb: in a direct way 

pins and needles – idiom: in a nervous state of anticipation

validation – noun: recognition

muted – adjective: not expressed 

expectations – noun: a belief that someone will 

absorb – verb: take in or soak up

chaotic – adjective: complete confusion and disorder

unison – noun: simultaneous, together

uttered – verb: make (a sound) with one’s voice

Cin Cin – saying (pronounced chin chin): cheers (a salute, informal)

Question ( s ):

What is something new you’ve started?

Bus Number 15

parked yellow school bus

( Intermediate Level )

Mr. Frankie, as the students call him, is close to retirement. He had driven for the Arcadian Elementary School District for nineteen years and ten months. When he wasn’t driving he would substitute as the crossing guard at the student’s crosswalk.

Frankie, named after his father, Frank Sr., grew up in the same neighborhood as he worked. Many of his friends, once they graduated, had moved away but he liked his city. Once in a while, they would come back to visit family and friends but this seemed to fade away as each of them started their careers and families.

His father had passed away a long time ago and he felt it was his obligation, as the only child, to help his mom as long as she needed him. She rarely asked for help.

She is a strong-willed Italian woman who did many things for herself. Frankie figures his dad had a lot to do with her being independent. “I will not be around forever. You need to know how to do these things for yourself.”

He smiles when he remembers those words. His mom would get so mad at her husband for what she felt was just being lazy. “Frank, You never want to do things for me! If one of your friends needed you, no problem but when I ask it is a different story!”

Frankie never thought about or planned what he would do once he retired. Honestly, he liked having something to do every day. Weekends bored him.

His mother was in her late eighties now and he didn’t know how much longer she would be around. “Maybe traveling could be an option”, he thought from time to time, “Five days a week and six months out of the year I traveled the same route. Time for new scenery I guess.”

Dinner at home never changed. You would always know what was for dinner by the day of the week. Sounds crazy to most who hear but it was pretty normal for their family You didn’t have to ask or guess what was for dinner.

On Mondays, it was meatloaf, on Wednesdays it was, homemade soup or stew and on Fridays, it was always fish. “Catholics eat fish on Fridays,” his mother would preach.

On alternate days, Tuesdays and Thursdays, a pasta dish was on the menu. Today was Wednesday and Frankie knew it would be be a soup or stew. It didn’t matter to his mom if it was thirty degrees Fahrenheit or ninety degrees, soup was on the menu.

He sat down with his mom for dinner and she gossiped about what her friend had done and what she saw the new man across the road do to a stray cat who had wandered onto his veranda.

She finally stopped talking when she noticed her son quiet and deep in thought. “So what is on your mind tonight? You probably haven’t heard a word I said.”

“I beg your pardon. I have heard everything you said.” He smiled at her and hoped she wouldn’t ask for details. He had no idea what she rambled on about. His last day of work was coming. At the end of this school year, he would retire. This was a week and a half away.

His mom smiled back and continued eating her soup. She looked up at her son and asked, “You look like you have something on your mind. What is it?”

” Ya Ma, I do. In less than two weeks I will not have a purpose. I won’t have to get up and be somewhere. I have no idea what I will do every day.”

“I’ve dedicated my entire life, it seems, to driving a school bus. I never really made plans on what I would do once this day came. Any suggestions?”

His mother stopped eating her soup and wiped her mouth with her napkin, “For one thing it will not hurt you to take a few weeks off or even a month before you decide what is in your future.”

“Twenty years of dedication deserves time off. Don’t you think? Retirement doesn’t mean you crawl up and die. It means you relax more. Don’t be in a hurry to do anything. Enjoy every single day!”

“Ma, you’re right. Besides all these years taking care of you has been another full-time job!” He waited for her response with a huge grin on his face.

“Pffft, If anyone had a full-time job it would have been me and I never received a dime for it. I had you and your father to take care of, the house, and to cook. Your dad never likes sandwiches, remember? He always wanted a hot meal.”

Now that your father is gone I practically do his job also. So not only am I a caretaker. I am a chef, a maid, a chauffeur for my friends who don’t drive and I am a handyman to boot!.

“Believe me, in retirement you will be busier than you ever thought you would be. If your hands are idle then that is your choice.”

Frankie shook his head in agreement. His mom always spoke what was on her mind. She never curbed her tongue. Everyone knew this about her and loved her for it.

The last day of school approached without incident. The staff had pooled their money together and had bought a card, a watch, and had a plaque made for his twenty years of service to their school district.

What his students did for him meant much more than a plaque or watch. Each of them wrote a short note to him and drew a picture. Each gave him a hug and their gift to him as they left the bus.

Some had drawn him as a substitute crossing guard while others drew him sitting in the driver’s seat of bus number fifteen. With the words written, “We love you” or “You are the best bus driver” and even ” You will be missed.”

Weeks had passed and his mother was right. Relaxing for a few weeks wasn’t all that bad. He and a friend actually had time to go to the local pond to fish. He hadn’t done this in years.

So Frankie, what is next for you? Are you going to travel or take up a hobby?” his friend asked.

“Nah. I need to stay close if mom needs me. I’ve been thinking of starting a non-profit organization for the students whose parents struggle from year to year to buy coats, backpacks, and other things needed each school year. I just need to know how to get started.”

“Every year I saw students carrying their books in plastic shopping bags or wearing shoes that were either too big or too small. It’s not their parent’s neglect. They do what they can.”

“I have a friend who works at the mayor’s office. I can give him a call on Monday and see if he has information on what to do.”

“That’ll be great. I want to have everything up and ready before the new school year begins. That means getting donations of supplies or money for us to buy such things. I imagine we would have to add to the list as time goes on but for now we can start small.”

“Sounds great. I will give you a call after I talk with my friend.” They both had gathered up their fishing gear and headed to the trucks. Neither of them had caught a fish but they enjoyed just relaxing and catching up.

Frankie received the information needed to start his non-profit and it was simple enough. He needed to fill out the necessary paperwork , name the organization, and file it with at the county building.

Frankie and his mother were enjoying their fish dinner when he mentioned to his mom. “Everything’s coming together nicely and I will go down to the county office on Monday. I still need a name. I cannot file the paperwork until it has a name.”

His mom looked across the dinner table at him. ” Bus Number 15. That had been your life for twenty years. Now you are starting your next chapter. Sort of an extension of the first. So I feel it is proper to call it that.” Frankie looked down at his plate and then back at his mom, “That has a nice ring to it.”

On the following Monday, the paperwork was filed and it was the beginning of a new journey for Frankie. The word got out and businesses donated to his cause. One business gave him office space, free of charge, in the downtown area, so he could be accessible to many.

Before he headed home for meatloaf Monday, he hung a simple sign on the outside of his new office building. He stood with his hands on his hips and beamed with pride.

BUS NUMBER 15 FOUNDATION

Dedicated

To Helping All Students

and Their Families

Written By: Angel

Follow me on:

Instagram: morningangel847

Twitter: AngelOfTheMorn5

Meta Business Suite: Angel’s Thoughts to Pen

Coming soon: topenwithangel.com

Thoughts from Angel:

There are many families struggling in today’s economy around the world. Prices have increased drastically on everything. If you have a chance and are able to help please do.

If you would like to support what I do “Buy me a coffee.”

Vocabulary:

fade away – phrasal verb: gradually grow faint and disappear

obligation – noun: a duty or commitment

strong-willed – adjective: determined to do as one wants even if other people advise against it

independent – adjective: free from outside control

scenery – noun: landscape or layout

preach – verb: proclaim or teach

alternate – adjective: every other

veranda – non: a roofed platform along the outside of a house, level with the ground floor

rambled on – phrasal verb: to talk or write in a confused way, often for a long time

entire – adjective: with no part left out; whole

chauffeur – noun: a person employed to drive a motor vehicle

to boot – phrase:  to emphasize that you have added something else to something or to a list of things that you have just said.

curbed her tongue – noun : to hold back comments

without incident -idiom: without any unexpected trouble

plaque – noun: small wall sign, commemoration of a person or event

non-profit – adjective: not making money or profit

neglect– noun: the state or fact of being uncared for

catching up – phrasal verb: talk to someone whom one has not seen for some time in order to find out what they have been doing

has a nice ring to it – idiom: to sound nice, good, pleasing to the ear

word got out – intransitive verb: to become known

accessible – adjective: able to be reached or entered

beamed – verb: smiled

Question ( s ):

Are there any organizations in your city to help with families in need? Whether it is food or clothing.

Alphabet Soup

( Intermediate Level )

There are those moments where something, whether it be a particular song or a smell or even something you see, triggers a memory. This is exactly what happened to Charlotte.

She sat down for a quick bowl of soup before she returned to her work online. As she opened the can she realized it was alphabet soup. She remembers how she loved eating this soup when she was young. She smiled and popped into the microwave.

In today’s world, many companies have adopted the hybrid way and the employees can choose which days to work from home and those to work at the actual office. Mondays and Fridays are the days she chose to stay home. This gave her what she felt was an extended weekend each week of the month.

The microwave beeped, as the soup finished heating and she sat down lost in her memories of her childhood.

Both of Charlotte’s parents worked so she spent her days at her grandmother’s until she was old enough to go to school. Grandpa was gone now and her mother thought it would be wonderful for both of them to have each other’s company.

“Charlotte, it’s lunchtime. Come and have a bowl of soup with me. Do you want crackers with your soup?” her grandmother asked as she poured Charlotte a glass of milk.

“If you put crackers in my soup then the letters get lost. How can I spell words with you?”

I guess you are right. Let’s see how many words we can spell before we finish our soup. If I remember, I have the most words!” Her grandmother responded, egging her granddaughter to do her best.

Her grandmother discovered she could buy dried alphabet noodles and pre – cooked them then add them to anything. She remembered that, one time, grandma added these letters to the gravy that was poured over the mashed potatoes.

“Oh, Grandma! You are the best!”

This was how it was for years. It wasn’t until Charlotte was older that she realized that this was her grandmother’s clever idea to get her granddaughter to eat all her meals.

As time passed, Grandma had more difficulty in everything. Her movements slowed and her ability to think of words decreased. Charlotte remembers she was about ten or twelve when she noticed this.

She mentioned it to her dad one evening while they were having their dinner, and he responded,” She is sixty- four now. This happens when we get older. Just try to help her as much as you can.”

The following Monday, Charlotte remembers going to grandma’s after school until her parents came to pick her up. Grandma had already had their snack ready.

She prepared their traditional alphabet soup and a half of a cheese sandwich. Her father’s words resonated in the back of her mind, “Help her as much as you can.” She sat down and started the conversation.

Grandma, I have a big spelling test coming up this week at school. Can you help me study for this? Maybe we can find the letters in our soup!”

“Of course ,I can. What are your words?”

She remembers going to her backpack and pulling out her spelling workbook. She sat back down and started thumbing through to chapter six. “Here they are grandma,” as she slid the workbook across the table to her.

“Ok, Here is your first word, attractive.

“A – t – t – r – a – c- t – i – v – e” Charlotte moved aside vegetables, with her spoon until she found all the letters she needed.

“Very good. Here is another, admire.”

Again, Charlotte found all the letters within her soup. A – d – m – i – r – e. Her grandmother smiled at her.

“What does admire mean?”

I am not quite sure but I know I admire you grandma!”

“Well thank you. Now eat up a little before your soup gets cold.” Charlotte ate, leaving her letters on one side of her bowl.

“Grandma?”

What dear?”

I am worried about you.”

What on earth for?”

Sometimes you forget things and sometimes I notice you have trouble walking.”

“Oh, my dear Charlotte. This happens to all of us when growing older. It is a reminder to us, who are older, to enjoy each day and not to be in a rush.”

“Will this happen to me too?”

“Maybe. It is normal. No need to worry about your old grandmother. I have you to keep me active and keep my mind sharp.” Her grandmother gave her a huge smile and a wink.

They continued eating and going through each of Charlotte’s spelling words. Her grandmother squashed all concerns that Charlotte had about her through her explanation.

Charlotte heard her cell phone ring, which startled her. She realized her whole lunch break was about over. She was so deep in her childhood memories and the alphabet soup.

“Hello.” as she answered her cell. “Hi Char, It’s mom. We are planning on going to Grandma’s house for the holiday. Do you think you can get away from work to come with us? She would love to see you.”

Charlotte’s parents relocated to another city a few years ago due to a promotion her father received within his company. Once Charlotte graduated from college, she too moved to the same city as her parents and secured her current job.

Sure, I have some time owed to me. I just need to make sure it is ok with my boss.”

“Great, we will be leaving on Friday night after your dad gets home. See if you can book a flight on the same plane as us.” They exchanged information on the flight and hung up with each other.

It was time for Charlotte to return to her work. She logged back into her computer and quickly sent her boss a message asking if she could take a few days off. He agreed to let her have off on Friday and the following Monday.

“Great! Thank you. My parents and I will go to my grandmother’s. I haven’t seen her in maybe eight or nine years. Once I went away to college I became too busy in my life.” she said in her message back to him.

She quickly made her reservation for the flight and then texted her mom that everything was a go for Friday. She knew she would have to pack tonight since tomorrow would be a very busy day at work.

The flight was pleasant. Each of them had carry – on luggage only. It was a quick ninety -minute journey. Arrangements were made for a rental car to be waiting for once they arrived.

With luck and not a lot of traffic they would arrive at a decent hour. Grandma was a night owl but dad was not fond of driving when it got dark. She smiles as she thinks about her grandmother’s words,” It is a normal part of getting older.”

As they arrived, her grandmother greeted them on the porch,” Well look who is here. Charlotte. Oh my, how you became such a beautiful young lady. Charlotte smiled and gave her grandma a hug.

“I know grandma, It has been a long time and I am sorry. It doesn’t mean I haven’t thought of you.”

” I know dear. We all get busy sometimes. Now let’s get inside and I made a snack for us. They do not give you enough to eat on those flights to fill you up. ”

After suitcases were put in the extra bedrooms they entered the kitchen to see her grandmother busy setting out bowls and spoons. on the table.

She set a large bowl in the center of the table. Alphabet soup. Charlotte looked up to see her grandmother returning the look. She smiled sheepishly and winked at her granddaughter.

After all these years of separation, it was as if nothing had changed. They talked and talked. Catching up with each other.

“Grandma, look,” Charlotte spoke in a childlike voice. In her spoon she had found all the letters to spell A – D – M – I – R – E. Her grandmother’s eyes softened as she read the word.

Written By: Angel

Follow me on:

Instagram: morningangel847

Twitter: AngelOfTheMorn5

Meta Business Suite: Angel’s Thoughts to Pen

And very soon you can follow: topenwithangel.com

Thoughts From Angel:

Memories are very precious for me. If I had to chose between keeping old memories or making new ones, I would always say, “I would rather keep the old memories.”

I have so many memories growing up ,of those who I loved and now they are gone, that I want to hold onto. These memories remind me of where I came from and it is because of them made me the person I am today.

If you would like to support what I do “Buy me a coffee”

Vocabulary:

triggers – verb: cause (an event or situation) to happen 

adopted – verb: choose to take up, follow, or use

hybrid – adjective: mixed or combined

egging – verb: urge or encourage someone

clever – adjective: intelligence

decreased -verb: smaller

resonated -verb: reverberating sound, hearing over and over again

thumbing through – phrasal verb: to turn page(s) quickly

attractive – adjective: appealing to look at

admire – verb: regard (an object, quality, or person) with respect or warm approval

squashed – adjective: to stop or softened

startled – adjective: sudden shock or alarm

fond – adjective: having an affection or liking for something or someone

sheepishly – adverb: having a sneaky way, mischievous

childlike – adjective: qualities associated with a child

Question ( s ):

Have you ever experienced a memory triggered by a smell? A song?

Do you have a favorite childhood memory of someone you were very close to, like a grandparent?