Friday, September 13, 2013
6-26-13 RMB Thank You Mrs. Brown
6-26-13 RMB Thank You Mrs. Brown
Dear Rita Mae Brown,
Continuing on the gratitude trend…I’d like to express my thanks for a certain Mrs. Brown. Yes, that is really her name. She was my nephew’s teacher, as well as his Speech and Debate Coach.
In addition to being born with my sister’s “adult” common sense, he was born with an exceptional mind. One would think that having such assets makes for an easy life, but everyone has hurdles. My hope is that every student may find their own Mrs. Brown to help guide them over their hurdles.
In High School he joined Speech and later became President of the team. Often I would hear about Mrs. Brown. After a while, I saw Mrs. Brown’s influence in him. The things he relayed to me, her values, her teaching, I could see them in his actions. She had a profound effect on him and others.
He honored me by saying “She reminds me of you”. She helped shape him into the man he has become, one that the family is quite proud of. Eventually, I was able to attend one of his Speech competitions with him and looked forward to the pleasure of making her acquaintance.
I saw her from a distance and the draw she had on her students was obvious. She was surrounded by the team, eager for her attention and direction. She sent them to various rooms to their final rounds of the competition. She took a moment to chat with me. I had the chance to thank her in person for her time with my nephew and her work, as both teacher and coach. And now I am writing about my gratitude for her friendship with my nephew and her contribution to the kind of person he has become…
In his youth, my nephew accompanied me to conventions and trade shows, some for work and some for pleasure. He was always helpful, often escorting direction challenged adults to their cars or conference rooms. After just one look at a map, he can navigate a convention center or airport as if he worked there. We laughed at the LA convention center’s Book Expo America one year, when he was asked to escort the adults to where they needed to be, as he was a still a minor. “Minors are not to be left unattended” the loud speaker boomed on a regular basis. We sent extra, equally direction challenged, adults with him for the return walk.
At a young age, when he took a liking to a certain gaming company’s product, he contacted them and asked if he could assist them with their trade shows. He struck up an arrangement to work with them in exchange for product. He was still a young teen. At one convention in Anaheim California he accidentally left his Speech and Debate jacket.
Travel forward a year and a half…he was walking through an airport in Chicago, on his way to a flight headed to Indianapolis, to work one of the trade shows. He noticed a woman wearing a jacket with a logo that looked, from a distance, like his Speech and Debate Team logo.
Upon boarding the flight he passed the woman in her seat. It was the logo from his California high school team. He determined to chat with the woman when they departed the plane. He found her easily enough. She was among the group of people gathered to represent the gaming company, people from all areas of the country flown in for the convention.
As he approached her, he saw his name on the jacket. “Excuse me, you have my jacket on. I was just wondering how you came by it.”
“This is you?!?” she pointed to his name, “You’re Ray Ibarra???” Then she proceeded to gather the group, “Hey everyone, this is Ray Ibarra.” Apparently others were in on her quest to meet him.
He came to learn that woman wearing his jacket was a Vice President in the gaming company. His jacket had been among the items brought back to their corporate office after the Anaheim trade show. Although trade shows were something she rarely participated in, when she did, she wore his jacket, hoping to meet him. She had heard about him and what she heard, left that much of an impression.
She was two levels above anyone he had ever dealt with at the company. He had no idea how she might have heard about him. He was still in his teens. In the course of wearing his jacket for several months, she met others that had Ray stories; others that knew him or of him and recognized his name, building her interest in meeting him.
He, in turn, was honored to meet her. They had a good laugh about it. She thanked him for his work with the company. He graciously told her to keep the jacket.
This letter is written with gratitude for Mrs. Brown and her influence on my nephew who also became the kind of person that people hear about, want to meet, actively seek, and upon meeting … celebrate the occasion with gratitude of their own.