Archive for October, 2017

When Batlight Calls

October 8, 2017

One day my daughter in law, Hope, called to tell me that the children’s school was having super hero week and, knowing how I love to go see my grands in their second natural habitat, she told me parents and grandparents could go and read the children a story in their classrooms.  I’d read to their cousin, Benny’s, preschool class a while back and shared lots of bedtime stories with all of these beloveds, so she knew I had experience, heart and qualifications for the task proffered.  Also, knowing my love of school activities & being involved in the children’s lives by showing up to their events, she asked if I would like to do this fun sounding job.  
Would I!?! And how!

‘Please, Let them know that’s a resounding, Yes!’

Date and time set, my mind started whirling.  Hmm what to read? Level. Subject. Time needed. I’d be reading to Selia’s 2nd grade class and Jack’s kindergarten. How long? It’s super hero week. Which books? I checked out the artwork projects in the school hallway to get the drift. Did the adult readers dress up? As specific characters children would know? I’m no Batman. I’m just a grandmother with gumption and a love of children.

With it being short notice (no months or ability to make a full costume. And Superstorm Sandy had sadly taken all my stock of Halloween and stage costumes from various shows I’d done over my career.   It was next week!  and on further investigation, I found out it really wasn’t necessary….the focus was on simply reading.

Still….how to make it fun for the children? What books did I have left intact and unsodden by the flood from which I was still struggling to recover? If so, were any of them specifically about super heroes? Hmmm. No books on the totally lost first floor, survived. I looked through the 2nd floor, where what I could put upstairs on the day of preparation for the coming storm, I’d done as best I could. What a wreck to wade through! ”This would take a super power!’ I thought.

The few survivors I could find were old dusty ones from their Dad’s childhood. I kept searching until, lo and behold, I found a slim unopened Amazon book mailer among the piles of pillows, blankets and boxes. Upon opening, I found what must’ve been kept for Christmas or Birthday gift giving.  I’d always shopped well ahead of holidays and celebrations; keeping an eye out for sales! and stacked away the gifts until the fun days arrived. Friends fondly called this yearly clutter, ‘Gramence’s store.’

Staring up at me was a crisp glossy white-jacketed book entitled, “The Invisible String.”  
It had a drawing on it of 2 children and a heart on a piece of string flying above them. I opened and read a most wonderful story of children and loss and how ultimately no matter how far away we all may go or be, we are always connected by love in our hearts.

It was packed with feelings that every human has and I remembered purchasing this gift for the two of my grandchildren who lived through the night of the terror of the giant storm with 100 miles per hour wind whipping and whining in the night; rocking the 7 story building in which we sheltered;  hunkering down in the dark with flashlites when the power went out in the whole town and the ocean roared down every street; smashing into houses and buildings.

People got uprooted and friends and families got separated..in the storm and after.   
Many people had to find other places to live, away from their houses that got damaged in the flood. Kids couldn’t go to their regular schools. They too were flooded and wrecked. Everyone who knew everyone got scattered.

I wiped my eyes touched with tears as I finished reading and wondered if, as lovely as this book about hearts always being connected no matter how far away people can go; the next room, across the world or out of it when they die, might be too heavy for the elementary children of East School of Long Beach New York.  It had just gotten repaired  and opened again and was filling up with students who were returning to their home area as it healed. Yet no matter what other book I found, this slim volume tugged at my heartstrings and its simplicity and comforting truth gave me the courage to choose it.

Now to tie in the fun of the theme. Super Heroes with Super Powers! 
I borrowed a short red cape, I’d given Hope for a prior Halloween Super Woman costume, because she is a super Mom & woman.  I tied it around my neck, scrunchied my hair up in two pony tails; standing out, one on either side of the top of my head, wore red clogs, blue slacks and a bright turquoise, long sleeve top.  
And off I went to school!

Arriving and reporting for duty at the principal’s office, I announced myself ready for heroic reading to class.   
They cracked up at the ‘costume!’ and loved it!  Calling the teacher, for time to read and getting the ok, off I went; cape flying in the hallway breeze. Kids on errands turning like tops,  agog with the sight. Who was this superhero?!

As I knocked on the door, a teacher invited me in, introduced me to the children while another got their students seated in a semi-circle on the carpet of the story-time area of the room; a small chair awaited me at the front of this arc of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed kiddles who chorused “Good morning Gramence!”

I took my place and my grand daughter, Selia, took her special place for the visit, on a little chair next to me, as the privileged page turner.

After the exchange of the ‘hello chorus’ and book title introduction, I took a deep breath, centered and began….’Once upon a time…there were two little children who couldn’t sleep one night. ..who cried for their mother because she was so far away from them…in the living room!  So, their Mom told her not-so-sleepy, sleepy heads about how many ways people can be far apart and still always be close with each other. 
 The children in the story asked lots of questions and so did the boys and girls in my reading circle when the last page was turned.

What I thought might be possibly a tale too serious for young children,  turned into fresh-scrubbed, upturned faces of thought, understanding and inventiveness of their own, as I answered the end-of-story curiosity.  
 Selia was beaming from ear to ear; centered with me in the ‘stage-door-after-show-mob-scene’ on the reading carpet; holding the, now beloved, book up for her classmates to see up close and personal.

Questions, questions, oh, boy, did they have questions! Silly and serious. How far out into space can the invisible string go if you’re an astronaut? Does it work with pets? What about fish or turtles? Or Grandparents who live far way and only get to visit on your birthday?

One boy told us his grandfather had just died. Hearing that the invisible string could never be broken even when some one goes as far away as heaven, he was serious and seriously smiling when he approached me after the reading; adjusting the little yarmulke on his head; he nodded a tone of certainty that he and his grandpa were connected at their hearts. Looking all the world like he was a miniature Rabbi instructing me of his new knowledge; he was firm in repeating his new found positive clarity. Happy in his step, he strode back to his desk to inform his two friends. All three conversing on new insights.

At the moment before I left for my  next class, a tiny, wisp of a girl who had sat at the edge of the carpet circle in complete silence, came up and whispered haltingly in my ear, “The hurricane… broke my house and… we had to move away. I miss it …and my doll and …kitty. My best friend next door had to move away too… I don’t know where she is. Do you think she remembers me? Does she have an invisible string? Do I?… Everything is gone… I’m very sad.”  Visibly heavily burdened,  she barely got out this confidence through tears rolling down her sweet cheeks. Answering her in gentle affirmative; telling her that they both had invisible strings from their hearts to each other and that ‘when she was missing her friend, her friend was probably missing her too,’ evoked one of the biggest hugs I’ve ever received!  
 I enfolded her in my arms, thanked her for her brave sharing and good questions and told her that she and I now had an invisible string and that no matter how far away I was, I would always remember and think of her and that when I did, I’d send love through our special invisible string from my heart to hers…just like I do for Selia and her brothers, Jack and James and cousins, Sofia, Benny and Joey, when I go traveling.

Out of the corner of my eye, I caught both teachers nodding and when I stood at the door to the hall, one said, “ Class, Let’s  all thank Selia’s Gramence and say good bye!” and the other whispered to me, “Thank you. You have no idea what a positive breakthrough you created. That little girl lost everything in Superstorm Sandy. She and her small family evacuated to a shelter and have been displaced ever since.  A shy girl to begin with, she hasn’t talked about any of the losses since. None of us has been able to get her to open up. Did she tell you?” I nodded.yes. “She rarely speaks. This was major. Thank you so much!”

As I waved goodbye and walked on air, down the hall from 2nd grade to kindergarten, I now knew why the Angels kept drawing me back to this book of choice… 
 For this boy and this girl…and for the kids in a community where children had been scattered and were first returning to the homes, schools and safety from which a major devastation had wrenched them.  
 My heart swelled with gratitude for the ‘super guidance.’

My grand son, Jack’s, kindergarten class was equally receptive and the children just hopped in on the reading of the last page with their own delightful additions as to who and what their invisible strings were attached.

Spontaneous happy hugs arose from one child’s assertion that hugs were also part of the whole equation and could be visible AND invisible; seen with your eyes… and stuffed in your pockets for when you went on vacation!  
 Such were the super powers of super heroes like themselves.

What a day in my ‘still struggling to survive 3 years and counting, Superstorm Sandy aftermath, where  not only possessions were ruined, but in the dealing with the wreckage of my own home and life, where they’d been no time or ability to even remember connection to beloved books, teaching and learning.  Fun had faded to a too distant memory.

What a gift these children, this school, this daughter in law gave me… under the guise of helping out a school project; helping children, I got the gift of opening of my own heartstrings!  Purposeful usefulness. Remembrance that, though, somewhat like that tentative little 2nd grade girl had felt, I too, had been storm lost; beaten by weather; stripped of home; bereft of friends being close; wondering if I’d ever see them again; tempest tossed by insurance crookedness and helping agencies hamstringing,’ which had narrowed me down to slim scope of ‘one-foot-in-front-of-the-other-recovery survival.’ This day, gave me back a gift of purpose renewed and clarity.  I was still connected by my own invisible string to people I love and the work I have been given abilities to do which can enrich others.

We all can and do make positive differences and can  be pleasantly surprised by that remembering when we get lost.

We are all worthy and we all have superpowers of our own, which we can choose to implement when need arises.

Children gave me back a clue in their response to a story.

I can now happily say: “My name is Gramence and one of my superpowers Is reading!” What are some of yours?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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