I opened up the letter hesitantly. It was time to leave for the day. The hubby would be waiting for me at home. I needed to make dinner among a myriad of other chores before I could get to sleep for the night.
Yet, something compelled me to read Johnny’s latest letter rather than put it off. I had asked him about his holidays.
“My Christmas was good my dog died and dad was gone a lot you asked me in my last letter about my dad well he’s a pretty good guy i don’t see him much because he is at work but i know he loves me when my mom had me and my brothers she didn’t want us she would hurt us and be very mean my dad didn’t know where we had gone but he never gave up looking for us he moved heaven and earth to find us and when he did he didn’t give up until we were safely back with him so you see how he loves us? i have never really known a mom, but you are the closest thing i have to a mom i love you”
I sat back in my chair and looked out the windows of my empty classroom. I knew Johnny’s story by now, his dad didn’t have the money to buy him anything. So he wore his shoes until they crumpled apart. He couldn’t afford school supplies or even a lunch. He ate breakfast and lunch at school and often times, those were his only meals.
My heart broke for this little one, yet my resolved thickened. I would do whatever I could to give Johnny success.
I started tutoring Johnny before and after school, he was delighted because it meant extra time for me. I was glad to keep him off the streets a little longer. His writing began to improve. He even turned in papers with punctuation!
By the time the test came around, Johnny was ready. I believed in him and he smiled confidently, because he knew. He didn’t get a perfect score, or even a high score, but when the results came out, we rejoiced because he passed. The boy who spelled his name wrong the first week of school, wrote a two page story and passed!
Mikey moved on to fifth grade and I watched the next year as his teacher judged him the same way I had the first day of school. I know that judgement will follow Johnny all through his schooling, and possibly his life. Yet, I am so grateful that I had a chance to be a part of that life. I know I changed his life, but in reality, he really changed mine.
He taught me how to love, “the least of these”.
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