“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” – Zig Zigler “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” Theodore Roosevelt
We All Need That Someone When I look back at the things I have accomplished during the three-quarters of a century I have lived on this planet, I am truly amazed. Most of these things – like interviewing three presidents and writers such as John Irving, Terry Tempest Williams and Maya Angelou, to leading my newspaper’s coverage of the 2002 Winter Olympics, relate to my career as a journalist. . And the first step on that journey began at the age of 25 when I suddenly wanted to become a writer. Such a thought was so audacious for a high-school dropout with five still quite young children, one still in diapers, that I hid my dream from everyone for two years. I wonder now where I would be if the first person I had told my dream to had been anyone but a statuesque, silver-haired woman, whose sureness of herself scared me — and whom I never called anything but Sister Bright.
Instead of laughing at my dream, she nourished and encouraged it, and in doing so gave a tiny bit of her own self-confidence to me. It was all I needed to step out of the closet and to apply for a reporter’s job at a local Texas Gulf Coast newspaper. What I got instead was a position, at the grand hourly salary of $1.40, as a darkroom flunky – and a promise I could perhaps write if all my own tasks had been completed. That happened in March of 1967, and in August of that same year I was promoted to the position of reporter – and given a 25-cent an hour raise. It was a start. Until her death, Sister Bright and I kept in sporadic touch with each other from wherever we were. Lorine Zylks Bright, who had hidden desires of her own to become a writer, and whom I finally realized fought her own battles of insecurity, finally achieved her own dream when her book, “New London, 1937: One Woman’s Memory of Orange and Green,” was published in 1977. The book is about the explosion at the New London School in Tyler, Texas, which killed 300 school children and teachers before I was born. Lorine’s children were attending the school at the time, but thankfully escaped unharmed.
In an odd coincidence, my granddaughter, Heidi, was teaching at this very same school back in 2006 when I visited Tyler during my RV travels. Together we toured the museum commemorating the explosion and watched a video of my beloved Sister Bright speaking about the event. I had major tears in my eyes Isn’t it amazing how small is the world in which we live in? Amazon has one used copy of the book available for $75. I gave my own autographed copy of the book to my oldest daughter, Deborah, when I took to the road. Like me, she was encouraged by this remarkable woman whose enlightened spirit, I would like to believe, is looking down on us from somewhere peaceful. I wonder how many other women she inspired? And I sincerely hope that everyone has a Sister Bright in their lives.
Bean Pat: Say’s Phoebe http://tinyurl.com/oyoklck Nature is all around us when we just take the time to look.