Column - Thanks for inspirationThe beauty about people who inspire others is that they don’t realize they are doing it. They want no thanks or credit or anything in return.
By: Jo Colvin, Alexandria Echo Press
The beauty about people who inspire others is that they don’t realize they are doing it. They want no thanks or credit or anything in return. They are role models simply because they are – and because they care. My two children are fortunate to have been on the receiving end of this benevolence.
There are no words to express the heartfelt gratitude a parent feels when someone comes into their children’s lives and unselfishly plays a role in helping them become who they are, helping them discover their true passion, and encouraging them to pursue it. If only every child could be so lucky.
My daughter had the usual friends, family and teachers who inspired her – especially her dance teacher, who encouraged her in every way she could, gave her a job and became a lifelong friend. But when she was deciding what she wanted to do with her life, another person stepped in.
Unsure what she wanted to pursue in college, my daughter was considering speech/language pathology. I called Mary, an acquaintance who had been in that profession for several years. Although I didn’t know her that well, Mary agreed to meet us for coffee to share her experiences. Instead of a brief visit, Mary spent an afternoon visiting with my daughter, answering all her questions, not telling her what she should do – just listening and telling her about life as a speech therapist.
I’m sure Mary didn’t think it was a big deal, but those three hours that she gave up for us gave my daughter a purpose. She enrolled in college and majored in speech/language/hearing sciences. She excelled and graduated magna cum laude. When Mary read in the newspaper about her graduation, she sent her a card with a nice note and a gift.
This August, my daughter starts grad school. She is getting an education in a field in which the employment opportunities are promising. Her life is on the right track. Mary’s unselfish thoughtfulness, support and influence will never be forgotten.
And then there’s my son. He’s a musician. He lives and breathes the guitar. It was his guitar teacher, “one cool old dude,” who first inspired his love of music. As he started playing seriously, we became friends with several seasoned musicians in Alexandria, including Mike, Al and Terry. How lucky we were to have met these men.
These 60-ish guys took in this young boy, recognized his passion and budding talent, and accepted him into their circle of music. Busy adults with families of their own, they invited him to play at open mic night, which was where it all started. They let this little kid play with them, encouraged him and shared their musical knowledge. They even let him be the center of attention.
Mike taught him how to play the ukulele and invited us to his home for evening jam sessions. He became a dear friend.
As my son grew into a long-haired teenager, the support never wavered. When they played together, there was no age barrier or generation gap. They weren’t 60-ish men and a 17-year-old kid – they were musicians. And they treated him with that respect and as an equal. My son spent many evenings hanging out at Al’s house jamming. Al and Terry included him in several of their gigs at the local wine bar and resort.
Since my son recently started a band with three friends, Terry has been one of their biggest fans. He had the kids over to his home and spent an evening recording their music. He devoted a page of his website to their photos and two sound clips he recorded. He and Al invited them to join their upcoming performance at Art in the Park. More than anything, they want them to succeed musically and have gone above and beyond to ensure that they do. I don’t know if they realize the impact they have made in one boy’s life, how much they have expanded his musical world, given him confidence and made such a difference.
Mary, Mike, Al and Terry have done much more than help my children, they have taught me a valuable lesson. They have made me realize that we never know the capacity we have for making a lifelong impact on someone else – especially a child. I only hope that one day, I can do the same.
“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.