Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Very Special Gift

I have not written my blog in quite some time for a variety of reasons. So much has happened this month and the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas have never been my favorites anyway. School is especially stressful the week before the break every year with this year being no exception. I think it has been one of the hardest that I have had since becoming a principal.

Two weeks ago one of the moms at our school was brutally murdered by her ex-boyfriend. Her son attends our school and there are many extended family members who also attend our school. We have had many things happen over the years, but this is the first time something like this has occurred. Each time we have something happen, I always write a letter to the parents in the students' classrooms or to our entire school community depending on the situation. I attended the rosary, but was not able to make the funeral. Several of our staff went to the funeral.

Last Wednesday morning, I received a phone call from our school nurse saying that a mom that so many of my staff members had become close with lost her battle to cancer. She has four young children. The father had called our nurse in the middle of the night and she was there when she died. The family had moved to Arizona about a year and a half ago and did not have any family here. Several of my staff members and parents became her family. They helped take care of the children, took her to doctor's appointments, sat with her when she was in the hospital and visited her at home. Again, a letter was sent home to the families of the students in the classrooms where the children are and a funeral to attend last Monday. It broke my heart to see her four year old son and her seven year old son as pall bearers...

We recently found out that my Aunt Teresa's breast cancer has come back. We are feeling very positive about this. Of course, she has a wonderful attitude and probably the strongest faith of anyone I know.

My cousin, Pat, went with me to Douglas to pick her up over the weekend. Pat lost her husband, Phil, to cancer last January. Over the weekend, we talked about last Christmas when Phil was so sick. We had all of our family Christmas gatherings at her house because of Phil's illness. When I look back on last Christmas, it is with joy and I told her that. Even though we knew he was so sick, we were all together. Phil's last Christmas with us was how we celebrated every Christmas. I have missed talking to him, especially when something funny happened at school. He always enjoyed my stories!

Every few days I send a text message to my cousin, Ana, who recently lost her son, Steven, in a tragic car accident in California. I can't imagine what she and her family are going through and the holidays have to be very difficult, especially this first one. I just want her to know that I am thinking of her. I hope that these messages bring her some comfort.

On Thursday morning, one of my wonderful teachers brought me a gift that is probably one of the most touching and meaningful gifts that I have ever received. Her dear mother who is an incredible human being had written a book about something that happened when she was about six or seven years old just before Christmas. It is advertised as a book for children, but it is much more than a book for children. It is a beautiful story about the power of faith and about Christmas. It takes place in Sacramento, California, where she grew up. I have several cousins who grew up in Sacramento and I have ordered a book for them.

The book's title is Christmas on K Street, by Nancy Gilson Olivas. In the epilogue Nancy writes "As with most people, my life has been filled with great blessings and great sorrows. The sorrows are hard to understand sometimes. They can surely get you off track. But I have always been aware as the years go by that blessings far outweigh the troubles in my life."

This is beautifully said and I needed that book that day! Thank you for the gift of this book, Becky. Thank you for writing this story, Nancy, and for your incredible support over the years.

The last paragraph in the book says, "Believe. Believe in Santa and the message of hope and love he brings to us every Christmas. And if you are so inclined, say a little prayer to Jesus."

I continue to feel blessed for many reasons. The family that I was born into is second to none. My cousins and their families are more than cousins to me. My mother taught me so much and was such a role model as to how you treat people and how you stand up for what you believe in. I feel blessed to have had her in my life for so many years and there is not a day that goes by that I don't think about her and miss her. My Uncle Johnny who lived with us when I was growing up meant so much to me. Mary, the wonderful lady who took care of us growing up, taught me many valuable lessons about life. She didn't have much, but she had love. Every time I make beans or green and red chili meat I think of her and thank her for teaching me this along with so many other important lessons about life. My Aunt Teresa is probably the best person I have ever known. I love her dearly! Having Judy be such a support in my life means so much to me. And of course, what would I do without my children, Kerri and Patrick, and Cameron?

I am also blessed with many dear friends and a job that is not just a job at a wonderful school with an incredible group of people who come to school each day to make a difference in the lives of children, both academically and emotionally.

And as always on December 23rd, I think of my dear friend, Ellen Widmer, on this her birthday. She has been gone for six years now and I miss her kindness, her love of teaching and of all children, but most of all her---friendship. I am thankful that I had her in my life!

In my life, the joys do outweigh the sorrows.........

For those of you who read this blog, I hope that your holidays are filled with joy and peace. Happy Holidays!

7 remarks:

Anonymous said...

Sheila, beautifully said. Thank you for writing your blog. I always look forward to reading it. I am so sorry for the horrific tragedies your school has experienced recently. They could not have a better principal to help them through these difficult times.

Merry Christmas, Sheila!

Love you,

Anonymous said...

Another beautiful blog Sheila! Merry Christmas to you and yours and please know that I have Aunt Teresa in my prayers. Please give her a hug for me.
Love & hugs,

Anonymous said...

Sheila, Your words reflect what is in all our hearts! Love, Ted

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas, Sheila and all.
Beautiful writing that touches our hearts. Hi and hugs to Theresa. Positive prayers are going UP. I'd love to find that book.
Ann...grammyhood is unbeatable!

N-Search of Peace! said...

Finding beauty in the ugliness....

There is no "bah-humbug" here dear friend.....

None at all....

Love and Christmas blessings to you and yours....

Judy said...

4heila, As always--I am late! I loved this posting. You are such a gift in my life.

Lydia said...

I love reading your posts! Our school is a wonderful place and is like a family. We can always count on each other and know that we will be supported through all of our trials. What a great family you have.